On this page, we will detail a unique approach developed by the TRACOM Corporation called SOCIAL STYLES® that can be used by Managers and Individual Contributors. It is a framework to improve interpersonal effectivess and emotional intelligence. As a Manager, you can be more effective in your relationships with team members if you learn to focus on their behavior in an objective fashion. SOCIAL STYLES is a structured approach for observing, understanding, and anticipating an individual's behavior. Managing in an all-remote company comes down to trust, communication, and company-wide support of shared goals. Use this page as a frame of reference to help build trust within your teams.
Used with permission of TRACOM Group. All rights reserved. SOCIAL STYLE is a service mark of TRACOM GROUP. The SOCIAL STYLE MODEL is a registered trademark of TRACOM Group. The phrase SOCIAL STYLEs is required to be capaitalized when used due to copyright rules.
Personality assessments are one of many tools to help team members build trust. They are not intended to type-cast team members into boxes based on their results. It is important to remember that it is up to all of us to get to know one another on a personal and professional level instead of using the results of an assessment to make assumptions. Please use this page as a frame of reference when interacting with team members based on their assessed style. The results of an assessment should not put anyone in a box as we all have qualities that make us unique. The assessment does not take the place of Managers getting to know team members, appreciate their unique strengths and full personhood, and explore the ups-and-downs within the relationship. SOCIAL STYLEs is only a tool and we should not resort to type-casting team members based on their results.
As a Manager and team members at GitLab, SOCIAL STYLEs can help strengthen relationships, improve communication, and to predict behavior. As a people leader, you can develop a customized approach to each one of your team members based on their assessed style. This will enable personalization for Managers and Individual Contributors. It is an excellent tool for improving emotional intelligence and building relationships with your team.
"The more I learn about myself, the more I am able to understand others, the more I am able to bridge the gap between us."
Benefits of SOCIAL STYLES:
What separates great managers from good ones is the ability to treat each team member as individuals while focusing on their unique strengths and areas of improvement. People who have different styles have different preferences and ways of working. When managed ineffectively, these differences can be the source of dissatisfaction, conflict, and a breakdown in team effectiveness. However, when managed with skill, team members style differences can lead to creativity, focus, energy, and better performance. A manager can assess team interpersonal interactions by applying the SOCIAL STYLES framework so that the performance of the team can be enhanced.
In the SOCIAL STYLE Model their are two scales of behavior: Assertiveness & Responsiveness.
Dimension of behavior that measures the degree to which others perceive a person as tending to ask or tell in interactions with others. (Ask versus Tell)
Dimension of behavior that measures the degree to which others perceive a person as tending to control or display their feelings and emotions when interacting. (Control versus Emotes)
Behavior: What you say (verbal) and do (non-verbal)
Personality: The combination of ideas, values, hopes, dreams, attitudes, abilities, as well as the behavior that others can observe that encompasses everything a person is.
SOCIAL STYLES: Pattern of actions that others can observe and agree upon for describing one’s behavior
There are four styles related to the SOCIAL STYLE model. Each style represents a particular pattern of actions that others can potentially observe and agree upon for describing one's behavior.
The SOCIAL STYLES Model™ below categorizes the four unique styles: Analytical, Driver, Expressive, and Amiable. Team members can identify what style they may be classified as and adapt their approaches and communication style accordingly to their team.
Strategies to potentially apply when working with a Driver:
Sample Driver Quote
I trust in myself and my skills, results is what counts for me.
Strategies to potentially apply when working with an Analytical:
Sample Analytical Quote
I trust in figures, data, facts, and my own knowledge. I believe in thought-out decisions and actions.
Strategies to potentially apply when working with an Amiable:
Sample Amiable Quote
I lean towards the power of collaboration. I trust in the skills of others and the good in every person.
Strategies to potentially apply when working with an Expressive:
Sample Expressive Quote
I lean on the power of visions, I trust in my persuasive power.
Below are some additional strategies for Managers to adapt and personalize their management style for your teams individual SOCIAL STYLE. Once you know the styles of your team you can tailor interactions and communications with them to strengthen relationships.
The left hand side represents your style while the top represents your counterparts. Alter your style when interacting with your team members and leading others.
|Driving||Maintain peer status, share the resonsibilities of leadership||Shift your focus to a more general outlook, be less formal||Slow your pace and focus more on the relationships||Focus on some detail in relation to the goals|
|Expressive||Shift focus more toward the goal, less generalities. Be a little less casual||Listen more, take notes, don't try to outtalk each other||Slow your pace and focus more on the relationship||Focus on some detail in relation to the goals|
|Amiable||Shift Focus more toward the goal, less generalities||Pick up the pace, focus less on the relationship||Focus more on the issues at hand and less on popularity and networking||Focus less on the relationship and more on details|
|Analytical||Pick up the pace and focus less on details and more on the goal||Focus a little less on detail. Be a little more causal||Focus a little more on the relationship. Be more casual||Try to look at ideas more objectively. You both need to be right.|
Interested in learning about your own SOCIAL STYLE and those of your team? Below are five steps you can take as an individual contributor or a people manager to better understand your people.
Complete the Self-Assessment - Discover yourself using the web based self-assessment. Teams can also inquire about the SOCIAL STYLEs comprehensive assessment from TRACOM for a fee, that provides a comprehensive styles profile for each team member.
Reflection - Reflect briefly on your result. What is your Social Style?
Feedback - Invite your colleagues to give feedback on your style.
Share - Share the assessment with teammates who have not taken the assessment.
Aggregate Results - Maintain a centralized location where exisiting and new team members can view individual SOCIAL STYLEs.
Sample Slack Message for Managers to send to their team to complete the assessment:
Hi Team, I wanted to introduce you to a personality assessment called SOCIAL STYLEs. This is a great way to help us strengthen relationships and improve communication. Take some time to read the Understanding SOCIAL STYLES handbook page. When you are ready, take the free assessment to learn about your own unique style. We will come together as a group later in the week or during our regular meeting cadence to discuss our results. The more we know about each other, the better we can operate as a team!
Once you know your team's SOCIAL STYLE, what do you do next?
Below is an example of Persona that is used to show how SOCIAL STYLEs can be put into practice as a Manager within GitLab. Personas's are a tool to show a representation of the target audience. In this example, we've applied the SOCIAL STYLES framework to a ficitious manager at GitLab and how they could use the assessment within their team to personalize a management approach. Personas are archetypical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group. In this example, Managers. However, we can use personas for any audience at GitLab and beyond.
Use the persona as a roadmap to implementing the SOCIAL STYLEs assessment within your team.
There are three factors that distinguish a crucial conversation form a normal conversation:
Managing Underperformance is an example of having a crucial conversation. Team members and managers can apply the social styles framework to managing underperformance. Managers can break down barriers by getting to know their people on personal level. Different team members (different styles) have different cues when addressing a difficult conversation. Let's take Underperformance, for example, a Manager (Expressive) style has a direct report with an Analytical style. During a meeting to address the underperformance, the Manager shares data on the underperformance while providing tasks with details on how to resolve. The direct report can seem withdrawn and detached. Since the Manager knows this is an attribute of the Analytical style, they can be more likely to resolve the underperformance in a crucial conversation.
There are many applications of the SOCIAL STYLES model for working with teams. From managing conflict to coaching & mentoring, to managing up, to having crucial conversations. The applications are endless.
During Week 1 of our Manager Challenge Pilot, we had a course covering how to Manage Underperformance Using SOCIAL STYLEs. The slide deck and meeting agenda follow along with the session. In addition, we used an interactive polling tool called Mentimeter to ask participants what is the hardest part about having difficult conversations with team members at GitLab.
A recording of the first of two sessions can be found here:
Below are additional resources on social styles for review
The SSOT for the slides on this page can be found in this folder.