The goal of every manager is to build an effective team. When things are running right, working on a team can be an amazing opportunity to connect with others and learn from them—just look at the 1996 Chicago Bulls or the 2012 Avengers. Unfortunately, more often than not can seem like a cruel social experiment personally designed by Lucifer himself.
As you’ve probably realized, the people on your team are integral to the success of your project. Team members’ personalities, skills and abilities, as well as team size and composition are all contributing factors to the way a team operate to achieves its goals. The number one mistake managers make when attempting to build an effective team is focusing too hard on skills while ignoring everyone’s personality. Often, a team that looks perfect on paper can turn toxic if team members’ personalities aren’t compatible.
The fact is, simply hiring people who are motivated, talented and nice won’t always help you build an effective team.
Values fit is the key to a truly effective team
Research shows that diversity or heterogeneity in team personalities will increase innovation. The more varied each team member thinks, the more innovative individual ideas will be. However, you don’t want people to be so different that they can’t reach a middle ground. You’re looking for Values Fit—that sweet spot where team members’ specific personalities and backgrounds mix to create innovative solutions.
Building an effective team isn’t as simple as hiring people with similar strengths, traits or values.
Personality diversity in terms of introverts and extroverts, for example, can make for a truly effective team. On the flip side, a team comprised of dominant and competitive Straight Shooters each trying to set the pace and pull team projects in different directions is just as counterproductive as a team full of the nurturing Caretakers who are introverted and agreeable, and therefore may be prone to sacrificing innovation just to keep the peace.
The right kind of conflict can breed innovation
While too much conflict can lead to team breakdown, some conflict can be helpful—in fact, some suggest that conflicting personalities, though likely to cause more friction, can also trigger creativity and team innovation. The key is to look for the right kind of conflict.
In the workplace, there are generally two kinds of conflict: task conflict and relational conflict. Task conflict refers to conflicting ideas on how to execute a specific task, while relational conflict reflects clashes of personalities within the team. A small dose of task conflict can spark discussion and open communication, which could ultimately lead to new and innovative solutions.
In cases of relational conflict, however, teams are more likely to breakdown, rather than break new ground. For example, rigid team members act as the team’s Dose of Reality can clash with the team’s Innovator, whose ideas can be considered unfeasible and impractical. Unfortunately, relational conflict often results in a breakdown of team communication. In this scenario, team members tend to waste energy on interpersonal difficulties, resulting in a rapid decrease in productivity and innovation.
Cohesion is key
The most successful teams also display a great deal of cohesion. While this may seem to contradict everything we’ve just stated regarding the need for diversity and task conflict, these concepts actually go hand in hand. Cohesion doesn’t mean that all members are the same —rather, a truly cohesive team welcomes each team members’ individual differences, producing something that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Likewise, cohesive teams tend to create an atmosphere where all personality types can feel comfortable communicating. When the group atmosphere is one where every group member feels welcome and open to sharing, more well-rounded and effective solutions can be reached.
On a truly cohesive team, conflict is handled in a way that breeds creativity and disputes are resolved so that no one walks away from disagreements having gained a mortal enemy. On a diverse team, the group’s Conscience and Mediator will fight tooth and nail to maintain the peace and ensure that group harmony is maintained. Unfortunately, there are times when conflict can get out of hand. In these instances, who decides when it’s time to put away the sparring gloves and come to a team agreement?
Leadership sets the tone
Most researchers can agree on one thing: leaders are responsible for pretty much everything that happens on the team. When the ideologically opposed Straight Shooters and Idealists are at each other’s throats, the team’s leader should step in to resolve the conflict. As you may have guessed, team leaders should also foster a welcome atmosphere to aid communication, shoot for the diversity sweet spot when hiring, and be ready to challenge the groupthink if the team has a rather homogenous personality makeup.
In short, leaders should seek to understand individual personality characteristics of everyone on their team and understand how to best utilize those. Understanding and working with the team’s individual differences can be game-changing for a leader —it can help in solving team disputes, negotiating and delegating more effectively, and ultimately lead to a happier, more successful team.
Our Teams feature focuses both on diversity and compatibility, taking into account the unique strengths each individual brings to the table.
Good&Co’s Teams feature allows both managers as employees alike to better understand their role within any given team, and that of their coworkers. Using our psychometric model, we calculated twelve distinct team roles, each characterized by different personality traits. For example, those assigned the Pace-Setter role are often highly confident people who thrive on excitement and new challenges, while those assigned the Nurturer role are polite and empathic.
The assignment of roles is calculated based on team composition. The role one assumes within a team depends on both their personality traits, as well as the personality traits of all other team members.
For example, you may play the role of a Nurturer on Team A, but become the Conscience on Team B. This is no mistake — the algorithm behind our Teams feature is dynamic, taking into account both the personality traits of all team members and how all of these personality types work together.
At Good&Co, we see teams as complex, ever-changing organisms comprised of unique personalities.
What many don’t realize is that not only do the teams within a company have their own unique culture, but that the team’s culture is always evolving based on personnel changes. For example, the addition of a highly competitive person to the nurturing Family Dynasty can transform the culture into a team of Frontier Settlers.
Ready to start building a truly effective team?
Good&Co’s Teams feature provides managers with the insights and tools they need to boost innovation, maintain harmony and build a more effective team by assessing team strengths and weaknesses across three core areas: Innovation, Flexibility, and Competitiveness.
Here at Good&Co, our ultimate goal is to provide managers with the psychometric tools they need to build a more effective team while promoting employee well-being and workplace happiness.
Jelani Banks is an intern on Good&Co’s psychometrics team in London. He studied Psychology and Biology, enjoys reading and watching anything made by Netflix, Marvel or Shonda Rhimes. He spends his spare time staring at small screens and teaching people how to pronounce his home country, Anguilla.