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Understanding Personalities to Build Your Team
We recently held an insightful two-part conversation on our Between the Bytes podcast on why organizations must understand employee personalities to build their teams in the workplace. The second installment with Ben Reese & Christian Arnold from Executech’s training department discussed implementing what your organization learns after administering personality tests.
Forging Effective Teams
We are all different and bring unique skills and traits to the table. The same is true in the workplace, where employees with differing personality types can bring positive contrast to their company’s teams. There are some cases where having too many similar personalities on a team can create gaps. And, of course, employers may have to overcome weaknesses or friction caused by either scenario. The key points to focus on when analyzing personality tests are seeing your team’s strengths, working toward those strengths, and then providing guidance where there is a weakness that enables that individual to excel.
Our Executech consultants go through a week-long boot camp on our company’s IT services, and Ben and Christian look at their personality tests to better train them. Christian explains:
“The test helps us understand how they learn, and we also see whom they’re hanging out with and who they’re comfortable with during the boot camp. We also look at the weaknesses and share those results with them – it’s always interesting to see how they focus on the weaknesses and where they need to improve.”
Those weaknesses give a good idea of where triggers or friction points will be in their relationship within the team. Awareness of those traits is helpful, says Christian.
“It’s not a negative thing; it makes us all easier to work with if we’re aware of our weaknesses.”
Magical Spreadsheets and Stacks
The cascade spreadsheet is one of the tools used with the Clifton Strength Finder. It provides a snapshot of how strengths are distributed between the team, and a pie chart view provides an overview of where strengths lie in the team. These tools can help with team management, giving supervisors the tools they need to help cultivate team members’ strengths and provide support for their weaknesses.
For example, knowing how a person who is a relationship-builder will interact with someone who is very analytical is key to the success of their working together. Identifying the traits that enable them to work well together, understanding the possible friction points, and working toward improving on those is time well spent.
The Myers-Briggs cognitive stacks are equally effective in strategically bringing people together who complement each other. The stack starts with the cognitive function that is most likely used by each personality type, down to the least likely. For example, finding the exact opposite of that personality type, the introvert vs. the extrovert, can be beneficial. Putting those two together in a team enables a manager to use those traits to place people who will work well together strategically. Knowing each other’s strengths helps them meet in the middle by making decisions using that cognitive stack.
Ben and Christian used their personalities as an example. Christian is the “idea guy.” He has the imagination and dreams up new ideas. He admits he could think on an idea all day. Ben is the “get it done guy.” He wants to figure out how to make the dream and visions work. He’s action-oriented. They have learned through working together, and realizing each other’s strengths while owning their weaknesses, that they can divide work based on those strengths and come to a better conclusion. The key is creatively building a team to accentuate their strengths and provide a way for them to be successful.
Is That Sheep Really Black?
How does using personality tests help the black sheep – the one who is not getting along or making decisions that others do not agree with or understand? Learning how they work and studying their personality traits, strengths, and weaknesses gives managers insight into that person. It enables you to put yourself in their shoes. Even though you may disagree with their choice, you can better understand why they chose it. It does not necessarily keep teams from disagreeing, but it can reduce the friction in those disagreements. Finding common ground helps build team relationships.
In a word, it is empathy – developing an understanding of why people come to the decisions and take their actions and what leads to those actions. Getting a handle on that process is key to anticipating the areas of friction that can be avoided in the workplace. That kind of empathy can turn a person who does not seem to fit in into an asset for the team. The different perspectives they bring can make the team’s decisions stronger. It provides balance in a team that is perhaps hyper-focused and effective at one thing but might be lacking in other areas.
What if you’re “stuck” with the team you’ve got? If you cannot make personnel changes and must make the most of whom you have, look to each individual’s strengths and delegate the tasks that line up with them. Admitting your weaknesses and delegating to someone who is strong where you are weak is an excellent start to building a solid team.
Derik, our podcast host, says,
“If you’re not replaceable, you’re not promotable.”
Making yourself irreplaceable stunts your ability to grow as a leader. Striving to be replaceable is vital to your personal growth inside any organization. Learning how to develop others is precisely what a leadership role is. If you want to grow as a leader at any level, no matter what your title, you must find ways to help the people around you grow – and understanding personalities is one way to do so. It will do amazing things for your team – and you.
Need help developing successful IT Solutions or IT Support team? Reach out to us! We’re here to help.
This article was written from one of our Between the Bytes podcast episodes; you can find all our episodes here!