Being in each other’s space for 11 straight days can take its toll on anyone, and we are no exception. I’ve found that for me, it is critical to find some alone time to “recharge my batteries.” Introverts like me prefer to think before speaking, and often find it difficult to have to talk through every thought as it comes up. That for me has been one of the toughest parts of the program. My listen, absorb, consider, respond ways is probably as trying for my teammates as their verbal thinking is for me. By the time I’m ready to share my thoughts, they are ready to move onto the next topic. I’m having to learn to share ideas before they are well-formed; any of my introvert friends are cringing at that just like I do. It wears me out and if I can’t have my quiet time, I risk becoming overwhelmed and not useful.
We also have very different personality types. I love that we almost always contradict the stereotype of our countries. Our German is very unstructured, laid back, and indirect, happy to jump around topics. Our Australian is a focused goddess, looking to build structure around our approach and drive the pace forward. Our American (aka ME) is the listener and processor, trying to interpret what they and the customer say into something tangible. Anyone outside probably expected the German to be structured, the American to be aggressive, and the Australian to be chill. Our talents not only blow up stereotypes, they complement each other’s talents well.
The downside of the different personalities, besides the fact that getting me to speak can be like pulling teeth, is we tend to retreat to our comfort zones. Hollie (Australian) is in pre-sales, so she is strong at getting the customer to talk about their needs. Hartmut (German) is in product management, and he is good at thinking about what needs to be developed. I (yup, the American) am in change management and adoption, so pretty good at figuring out how to help Villgro design an effective change program. However, if we are to grow our knowledge during this engagement, it means we can’t go off into our corners and do what we feel comfortable with, much as I may crave that alone time. We have to guide each other so they know more about what we do, when, and why. SAP did an amazing job forming our teams so we benefit not just from geographical differences, but also skill and personality differences.
Our little sub-team had a very candid conversation this morning about how we were all feeling with our roles and our contributions. Talking about emotions and feelings is even worse for me than speaking in public (and some of you know that is a form of torture that I avoid). However, knowing that I was feeling somewhat frustrated and suspecting that the others were too, it was time to shut the door and get real. The chat was good and had a positive impact on our team dynamic. Hollie and I will remember to help Hartmut understand what customer-facing work is like; Hartmut and I will better support Hollie so she doesn’t feel alone in keeping things on track; Hollie and Hartmut will give me time to process my thoughts and share before jumping onto something new. It’s great to see that we could have such a frank discussion without hurt feelings or negative behavior. That’s another form of growth, right? Look at me – old dog learning new tricks!
So, it is almost 8 PM. Time for this introvert to go hide somewhere to get ready for another full day of interaction and conversation. 🙂