Updated: Jan 4
When I help leaders dive deeper into self-awareness and understand how they work best, one important factor is how they view time and how their point of view and approach to time might differ from, or even conflict with, their team members’ approaches to time. For example, when someone is a natural planner, it can be hard to see value in having no time structure at all, or when someone is a future thinker, it can be frustrating if others want to act primarily on proven past methods and lessons learned.
Here are a few aspects to discover about your team members’ time perspectives that might help you enhance teamwork:
1. Past, Present, or Future?
Some people are driven to collect historical evidence, look at past metrics, and research best practices to determine how to move forward strategically, while others are constantly striving to look to the future to improve based on anticipating changes and exploring new opportunities and ideas. And let’s not forget the people who have a knack for seeing time as a linear construct to map out, plan and integrate across the past, present, and future, who use calendars and timelines as their greatest tools. A person could do several of these things, of course, but it is likely that one of these time points of view is their most productive approach that can be leveraged when their team needs it most.
2. Plans or Deadlines?
When a person looks at their week ahead, it could look like a clear plan with time carefully allotted for each task, meeting, and project, or it could be less structured with lots of room for unknowns and urgent deadlines that drive the course of their day. Neither of these is right nor wrong. However, there is a spectrum of how planned or how flexible a person needs their schedule to be for their most productive workday. Knowing who is naturally more driven by plans and processes or more responsive to urgency and deadlines can help teams leverage the right people for handling emergencies and unforeseen curve balls while also keeping the right people focused on the plan.
3. Long-Term or Short-Term?
Short-term and long-term goals can both have a very significant impact on teams. When teams don’t have a longer-term vision or objective, the day-to-day could lack meaning and purpose for some people. On the other hand, without short-term goals and wins, the long game can be overwhelming for people, particularly in a change effort. Determining how to collaborate on a long-term vision that integrates the talents of the various parties and viewpoints on time – e.g. the future-thinking brainstormers, the integrative planners, the data-driven researchers, and the present-focused quality control experts - in a forum where everyone is heard, can help with arriving at a consensus, motivating people, and enabling people to create the short-term goals that align with the long-term objectives and with their best individual problem-solving approach.
These considerations only scratch the surface of how beneficial it can be to become more aware of how you and your team members view time and approach problem-solving. Increasing productivity and efficiency through process improvement and gathering feedback are common approaches, but taking people’s innate problem-solving strengths into account, including how they plan, view, and grasp time, can be just the advantage you need to successfully implement effective, lasting changes for your team.
If you’d like to learn more about how to assess and leverage your unique strengths and the strengths of your team with the help of Kolbe assessments, you can learn more on the Lead With Harmony website here: Know Your Strengths
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Andrea MacKenzie, Founder of Lead With Harmony, is an MBA, multi-certified coach, Kolbe-Certified consultant, and leadership and team-building expert with over 20 years of combined experience in corporate roles and business consulting. Andrea enjoys working with growth-oriented business owners and executives who advocate for the advancement and well-being of the people they serve, hire, and inspire.
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