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State Fair Animals and Work Team

The Minnesota State Fair begins in just over a week, so I thought I would continue my blogging theme with a fun post about how state fair animals are like the perfect work team. I know, comparing barn animals to people seems like a stretch, but bear with me! The MN State Fair animals are teeming with their own personalities and purposes. They are as diverse as the people who love and care for them. If you’ve ever walked through the chicken barn, you’ll know what I mean! Such variety, even among members of the same species.

Here are 6 distinct personalities that you’ll find in the state fair barns, as well as in a well-balanced work team:

The workhorses

These are the people who dive headlong into their projects with fervent dedication. They may not dwell on logistics or alternative routes—they just do. These go-getters can be compared to people who lead with red energy on the Insights Discovery wheel (for more on the Insights system, click HERE). They forge ahead fearlessly and set an example of “go get ‘em” leadership for others to follow.

The loyal ones

Many pets are fiercely loyal to their owners. They would do anything to protect them and keep them out of harm’s way. Loyalty is one of the ten attributes of an excellent leader (as you’ll find in my book, The Ten-Minute Leadership Challenge) because it is a necessary trait for those who want to succeed within an organization. Loyalty doesn’t mean that people can’t challenge ideas or systems—it does mean that they’re dedicated to their company and will do whatever they can to help it succeed (including challenging faulty aspects of it).

The social ones

We’ve all seen animals who absolutely revel in attention. They just want to be part of a pack—whether among people or their fellow species. In the same way, your extroverted team members thrive when they’re closely collaborating with others. If you want them to be productive, don’t force them to work alone! They’ll do much better (and be happier) if they’re able to bounce ideas off of others and talk things out.

The thinkers

Some animals are quiet and pensive. They take in the world with their silent observations and surprise us when they flawlessly navigate an obstacle course or solve a puzzle. A good team is comprised of at least a few analytical types. These people are data-driven and like to thoroughly think through issues before acting.

The ones that make a squawk

It’s okay to have squeaky wheels on your team. These are the ones who will keep things honest and be the voice of others who are too afraid to speak up. These vocal individuals may even identify problems that could affect your customers or clients, which is always great to catch before anything goes wrong “in the field.” There is a fine line, however, between articulating thoughts and opinions and complaining. As long as the “squawkers” don’t cross the line into griping and grumbling, it’s useful to recognize their opinions and address them.

The givers

Many animals take care of us. They give us milk, wool, eggs or just plain camaraderie. In the same way, there are those in the workplace who are advocates for others. They make sure everyone’s voice is heard and that others are treated with respect. It’s great to have these empathetic personas on your work team. They foster an atmosphere of inclusivity that is often lacking in the workplace.

 

With a little imagination, we can draw comparisons between the animals of the state fair and your perfect work team! Do you have a good balance of workhorses, loyal ones, collaborators, thinkers, squawkers, and givers?

 

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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apples oranges

Your workplace is diverse, whether you know it or not. You may all be similar in appearance, but what about your interests? Work styles? Ways of thinking and doing? Diversity goes beyond ethnicity, gender, culture, and age. It also has to do with diversity of thought and behavior.

Such a mix of perspectives can be healthy for an organization, but only if it’s leveraged correctly. If the minority voices are constantly silenced by the majority, then any diversity your organization may have will not be used effectively.

Understanding and accepting differences in others is fundamental to the success of an organization. It’s what leads to great idea-generation, creativity, and an energized workplace. As a leader, your goal should be to encourage all voices to be heard, and all individuals to be valued.

But where to begin? Insights® Discovery (a tool for understanding and developing unique personalities) provides us with a great model to follow to embrace workplace diversity. Here are their five steps:

  • Build Self-Awareness: Every person brings a unique set of knowledge, experience, capabilities and behaviors to the table. Organizations can and should help their people fully understand themselves and recognize their individual capabilities. We can’t really begin to understand and accept others, unless we know ourselves.
  • Gain Understanding: As individuals, we need to understand ourselves, understand others, and be understood by others. This means approaching diversity with an open mind—a willingness to learn about your co-workers and how they think and perceive the world.
  • Adapt and Connect: Organizations should help their people adapt and connect to get the most from their teams. Adapting and connecting helps you achieve better engagement and interaction with others. Yes, connecting with people who think differently than you may stretch your comfort zone, but you’ll probably be surprised by how much common ground you share.
  • Find Value in Diversity: Insights calls this phase “Moving from frustration to fascination.” Instead of being frustrated by others’ differences, learn about them. Appreciate what they bring to the table and how it adds richness to your work experience. Make your work environment an inclusive one in which differences are appreciated and valued.
  • Leverage differences: The best teams are comprised of a diverse group of people who can bring out the best in each other. This can only happen through honest, open dialogue and a work environment that encourages diversity of thought and perspective.

HOW can you make your workplace open and inclusive? Stay tuned for next week’s blog!

Want more information on how Insights® Discovery can help your workplace? Contact me today!

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