Does a curveball question get you the insights that you need?
I was asked by a potential client this week, “if your company were a person, what personality would they have?"
This is not typically the sort of question that I enjoy answering.
It reminded me of an interview question that I was once asked - “if you were an animal, what animal would you be?” It wasn’t something that I had ever given much thought to, but I went for a shark. The hiring manager took this to mean that I considered myself to be a tough, no-nonsense winner, ready to adapt and rise to the top. I had actually meant that I am a good swimmer, enjoy my own company and can be more than a little irritable when disturbed.
So how do I see my business in human form and is this equally as open to misinterpretation?
I answered the question with - calm, quiet, unflappable, solutions driven, in the background getting the job done. It doesn’t sound very punchy and is possibly not something that a potential client with a pressing problem to be solved wanted to hear. But equally, it is true, this who we are and it is what we do.
A quick search on the words that I used told me that my business (in human form) is likely to be an ISTP (Introvert, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving) personality according to Briggs Myers' theories of personality type.
Having looked into this a little further, I am inclined to agree. ISTP’s typically -
- Do, rather than talk about doing.
- Don’t fight for the floor.
- Quietly gather information to reach a conclusion.
- Are persuasive.
- Allow others to relax and shine as part of a team.
- Are highly efficient.
- Quickly visualise the end goal.
- Focus on solutions rather than problems.
- Are practical, realistic and action oriented.
- Are highly logical, objective and observant.
- Are great in a crisis.
- Don’t over complicate things.
- Have nerves of steel.
- Are great troubleshooters and perform best under pressure.
Would I have thought of this list at the time of being asked the question? No, probably not, but at least I’ll know should there be a next time.
Is this how our clients see us? Looking at their feedback, yes, I would say that it is. We are a company that works in the background to allow our clients to shine, but is a lack of dynamic promotion a flaw in our own sales strategy? Possibly, well a lot of people would say certainly.
It’s true that we don’t fight for the floor, we don’t run ad-campaigns, we don’t make blanket promises. We don’t do this because all business needs are different, all of our clients are different and one size does not fit all in our business.
We focus more of our time on asking people if they have any needs, rather than telling them how and where we have supported others. Not helpful for driving our sales, but wonderful for client satisfaction, repeat business and referrals.
Do businesses have personalities? Of course they do, they are run by people. Will those personalities change over time? Yes; new people bring a new personality to the proceedings. Will we become more punchy and dynamic in putting our solutions in front of customers? I never say never, but it’s unlikely.
And back to the shark; would others have offered the job to a quiet, solitude seeking good swimmer? I am told by many, that they wouldn’t have as it would not have been the answer that they were looking for and where time is precious, the interview would have been quickly wrapped up. The interview was not quickly wrapped up though, we spoke for a further 2 hours, developing a real understanding of how each of us worked, exploring how we would work with each other and how we could each adapt to bring out the best in one another.
We worked together successfully for many years with mutual respect, a great working relationship, common goals, solving problems and exceeding targets.
We’re all busy people and yes, sometimes we need a shortcut to speed up and aid in the decision making process. Just make sure that the shortcut doesn’t prevent you from developing a wonderful business relationship.