Stress is a very personal thing. What might be stressful to one person, can be motivational and energising to another and comforting to yet someone else.
Yes, stress is very subjective. However, most people would agree that stress concerns how we perceive the demands which we face in life. If we don’t feel up to the challenges, or aren’t motivated by them, they will be stressful and draining. In the short-term this can affect performance and teamwork. In the long-term it can affect health and profit.
An opposite of stress is flow – when you are energised, work seems easy, you are able to give fully of yourself and time goes quickly. You are in your flow when you do something you like and which comes naturally to you. How you can enjoy more flow will depend on your profile – a subject which we will be addressing in this article. Another opposite of stress is boredom. And in many ways, this is simply another form of stress. So the first thing to do to overcome stress and enjoy more flow is to understand yourself better so that there is less boredom, less tension and more playing to your strengths.
I use a variety of psychometric tools and one of them is called Talent Dynamics. This is a simple tool which helps you to understand yourself more fully so that you experience less stress and more flow.
It suggests four main profiles. I will share the main characteristics of each, as well as how each will experience stress and, at the same time, how each causes stress to others. I will finish with a few pointers on how to deal with that particular profile. It is a longer article than usual, so get yourself a coffee and enjoy. Even if you don’t identify with a particular profile, it provides insights into people who might be causing you stress, so it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to read it.
Let’s start with the Dynamo. The Dynamo is someone who is interested in the ‘what’ of life. Task focused, they tend to be creative, competitive, bold and target driven. They tend to be great at creative problem-solving and are usually intuitive.
What stresses the Dynamo?
As the Dynamo doesn’t like detail, anyone giving them chapter and verse on a project will likely notice a significant drop in their interest fairly quickly. Because they are target-driven, they will feel stressed by people who have a more relaxed attitude to commitments, or who spend a lot of time chatting when they ‘should be working’. Because they are task-focused they don’t always appreciate that, sometimes, focusing on the relationship ahead of the task might actually get the task done more efficiently. They will also get stressed by monotony and need variety to keep their levels of motivation optimal.
How does the Dynamo cause stress to others?
Dynamos tend to think fast, talk fast and act fast. They can be impatient with people who can’t keep up or take too long to express themselves. For a detail-oriented person the Dynamo is a challenge because they will only want to deal with the big picture. The detail person doesn’t really understand the big picture until the stepping stones and context are given, something that the Dynamo has little patience for. Easily distracted, they can create confusion or frustration for those who are more structured and reflective.
Another way that the Dynamo causes stress is to have lots of ideas that people struggle to keep up with. The more projects people work on the less productive they are but the Dynamo just loves coming up with new ideas so they can be oblivious to the strain these projects place on everyone else.
Finally, another way that the Dynamo can cause stress is in their communication style. They tend to be to the point which others may find blunt and could cause them to see the Dynamo as unapproachable. So colleagues of the Dynamo may prefer to keep their thoughts and concerns to themselves rather than highlight problems early on, especially if they tend to be the kind of person who uses wordy descriptions and focuses on the problem instead of the solution.
How to deal with the Dynamo?
Never give too much detail or you will lose the Dynamo. Keep to the point. Let them know what is new and exciting about your idea. They respect straight talking, so if you think that their ambitions are not achievable it is important to speak in positive terms, offering solutions or options instead of blocks. The Dynamo needs a roadmap to achieve their results to help make sure that their creations bear fruit. To keep from being distracted on too many projects, keep them focused on the big picture.
The Blaze is very people-focussed in contrast to the Dynamo who is more task-focused. They are interested in the ‘who’. They are very sociable, extrovert and relationships really matter to them. However, they can appear disorganised to the other profiles. They, like the Dynamo, enjoy variety.
What stresses the Blaze?
Trying to get the Blaze to focus on tasks at the expense of people will be very stressful because relationships are so important to them. They will interpret a smile as a sign of rapport so talking to them without smiling will put them on edge and cause them to assume that you don’t like them or are unhappy with their work. Like the Dynamo, they will not be good with too much detail. They will dislike being rushed because they see nurturing a relationship as the most important factor. They love telling stories and interrupting them mid-story is only likely to have them start the story again.
How does the Blaze cause stress to others?
Because the Blaze is so sociable, they will not be very good at keeping to time and can be easily distracted. Targets may be missed because they will be focused on relationships rather than getting things done. They will also tend to be expansive in their communication which can be frustrating to others. They easily feel rejected so keeping rapport with them will be very important for ongoing results and relationship management.
How to deal with the Blaze?
Always respect your relationship with the Blaze – short-circuiting this to get the job done will actually work against you. However, if you nurture the relationship with just a little small-talk and smile while telling them that you need a deadline met, you are more likely to keep them onside. This will be even more effective if you emphasise the impact to other people of any delay. They will need short term goals and friendly meetings to make sure they are on track. Remember that the Blaze wants to please and less haste will deliver better results. Keep them focused with regular meetings and smaller goals.
The Tempo is very much about the here and now and are team-oriented individuals. They are interested in the ‘when’ and ‘where’. They tend to be grounded, calm and caring and are good at implementing. In this way they make a great foil for the Dynamo who are better at creating ideas than implementing them.
What stresses the Tempo?
The Tempo likes to know what’s what so change can be stressful to them, especially if they don’t know why or how it will take place. They like to take their time with things so being rushed will not bring out the best in them. If the team is stressed, the Tempo will be stressed too because they like to ensure that everyone is happy. To implement well they need to have a system or clear instructions to follow - they are not good at winging it. They are very concerned about getting things right so may take longer to make sure that they are doing the right thing and doing it well.
How does the Tempo cause stress to others?
Tempos are less good with the big picture and often require direction so they know they are doing the right thing. Because of this, a boss who leaves people to it will be frustrated at the lack of progress a Tempo is likely to achieve in that kind of environment. Their calmness can be seen as lack of drive and their tendency to caution can be seen as a block when really it’s about making sure no mistakes are made and that problems are avoided.
How to deal with the Tempo?
Good communication and teamwork are key for the Tempo. They will be motivated to do things which benefit the team and to be able to do things at their own pace. If necessary, break things down so they do not appear overwhelming. Give them clear timelines and repeatable processes as well as background information so they understand the context of what they are doing.
Steel really enjoy facts and figures and the feeling of getting everything to balance. The Steel is interested in the ‘how’. They are good with detail and can spot errors very easily. They like systems, are well organised and disciplined and tend to be quite introverted and, as such, tend to be less comfortable in social situations than other profiles.
What stresses the Steel?
Steel will not enjoy an unstructured environment where change happens without apparent planning. They will tend to be frustrated in an environment which is very social at the expense of getting things done and may be uncomfortable in social situations. They tend to be risk-averse so playing things by ear will be very stressful to them.
How does the Steel cause stress to others?
Other people may find the Steel too concerned with detail and structure. Their tendency to see things as black and white can be challenging to others who notice the grey in between. Steel are less comfortable around uncertainty and change which can be frustrating for fast-moving change programs. They may be seen as blocking to the more target-focused Dynamo and there are often conflicts between these opposing styles unless they learn to accommodate each other.
How to deal with the Steel?
Give the Steel as much structure as possible. Communicate effectively but succinctly, making sure there are no surprises and that you give them the detail they need to feel confident about doing a good job. High level strategy will go over their heads unless it is backed up with a structured plan of how to achieve it.
This is a simple outline of four of the main characters (and there are numerous subtypes) but, of course, people are more complex than this. Really understanding yourself and others, playing to your strengths, working out how to work to others’ strengths can make a huge difference in achieving productivity, positive relationships and in keeping your stress levels as low as possible in a chaotic world.
A balanced business needs a range of skills to create, implement, problem-solve and maintain. So each profile needs to learn to work with the others, appreciate their positive qualities and contributions and to ensure that they work with other styles in a productive way.
If you want to learn how to become more stress resilient, give me a call on 0845 130 0854. You'll be glad you did.