Your Birkman Physical Energy score (available to those with Signature Reports, but often broadly associated with red quadrant on the Birkman Map / Grid) tells you about the pace you set for yourself and those around you.

Your Usual score impacts: the speed of your response to requests and instructions, the quickness you expect of yourself when completing tasks, and how you use your energy. Your Needs score indicates: how busy you want to be kept by those around you, and how demanding you like your schedule to be - essentially: whether you have a need to be kept busy, or a need for down time from demands.

I saw this vividly illustrated during a recent Signature Certification programme. Three participants, with high physical energy usual scores, got exercises and discussions done in super quick time. In the practice conversations with each other they ‘raced’ through the scores and kept up the energy and speed of explanations, questions and discussion from beginning to end. Feedback from their partners was good!

Two participants - with low physical energy usual scores - paced themselves, reflected more and took considerably longer to complete exercises. There was a lot more questioning, discussion and consideration. In their practice conversations they went slower, probed further with additional questions, waited deliberately for responses, dwelt longer on each score. The pace was relaxed, lower energy. Feedback from their partners was good!

Experiencing these tangibly different styles both working well, both being effective, reminded me to watch out for my own bias when I facilitate or manage others.

My bias is towards low physical energy; I value time for consideration and probing past the first response, so I generally set a slower pace. My pace is good for those who like to ponder and explore more slowly - they feel rushed if the pace is too fast and quickly feel tired. My challenge is to shift up to a faster pace at times, especially for those with high needs, as they will get restless and frustrated that everything is taking too long! They are ready to sprint!

So, looking out for the signs of others’ stress behaviours - either restlessness and frustration (high need) or fatigue and wanting more time (low need) - can be a helpful way to spot that a different pace may be ‘needed’ and more effective for those individuals. Keep the high needs busy and give the low needs some slack in their schedule!

You can check out your own bias by looking at your scores, and/or by asking those around you how your pace looks and feels to them. You can then start to experiment in making some pace adjustments, just like a pace-setter does!