Many companies come to Applied Vision Works wondering how they can make their teams more cohesive. A lot of managers looking for tips on team building are dealing with it from a reactive point of view. Usually, they’re trying to solve problems that already exist in the teams they’ve created. Their teams might be failing to collaborate, lack a common vision, or not know how to communicate. The fact is many of those problems will exist before the team ever starts working. Successful team building needs to start from the bottom up, by using personality types to create the perfect team.
One of the most trusted types of personality testing is Myers-Briggs. It’s actually so effective that almost 90% of the Fortune 100 companies use it when filling roles in their management.[1. “At 60, Myers-Briggs is Still Sorting Out and Identifying People’s Types,” Nov. 2003, http://www.workforce.com/articles/at-60-myers-briggs-is-still-sorting-out-and-identifying-people-s-types] These companies know that the first step to building their teams is knowing their workers’ personalities.
Myers-Briggs starts off by establishing four dichotomies, which are mainly four pairs of opposite preferences that test takers must choose between based on a set of questions.[2. “The Myers-Briggs Foundation,” http://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/] Now, it should be noted that ‘testing’ is a bit of a misnomer. In Myers-Briggs, there’s no right or wrong. It’s just a matter of preference. Each of the dichotomies exists on a spectrum, and most people’s preferences and tendencies will gravitate towards one end more dominantly than the other. The four set categories include introvert versus extrovert, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling and judging versus perceiving.
All together, these different Myers-Briggs attributes can create 16 different personality types. Each personality is listed as a four letter combination of the top preferences from each of the four categories. While none of these personality types are right or wrong, some are better suited to certain roles than others.
Establishing your team means creating roles ahead of time, with a focus on the personality types that will fit these roles. We find that for the most part, teams will be made up of a leader, a second in command, researchers, organizers, and outreachers.
Team leader – Most might assume that the most important category to consider for the leader of a team is whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert, assuming that extroverts are better leaders because they’re more comfortable with people. However, introverts are known to perform well in leadership roles, due to their ability to delegate. In fact, President Barack Obama is an introvert.[3. “7 Famous Leaders Who Prove Introverts Can Be Wildly Successful,” http://www.fastcompany.com/3032028/the-future-of-work/7-famous-leaders-who-prove-introverts-can-be-wildly-successful] What you really need to be concerned with when choosing a leader is whether they prefer intuition over sensing. Intuitive people like to look at the bigger picture of the information they receive, while sensing people prefer to simply take information at face value. For leadership roles, you really want someone who has an eye on the future, towards how what they know now will change over time. Intuitive people are predictors and you want predictors leading your team.
Second in command –The second in command on your team is someone who will deal with day to day tasks, and handle things in the leader’s absence. The most important factor to consider in choosing a second in command is how well their personality will complement those of their leaders. In this case, opposites will attract. If your leader is an extrovert, you want a second who is an introvert. If your leader intuitive, you want a second who leans towards sensing. Making sure your second is the opposite personality type of your leader is a good way to ensure that all areas will be covered.
Researchers – Every team needs facts and data to work. The researchers on a team will be responsible for giving facts, solid proof, and verified information to guide the team’s events. These will be the individuals who gather data from databases, manage focus groups, or review any information that is collected and prepare it in a way that is easy and concise to read. Examples of researchers might include data analysts, software developers, and others in technically-focused jobs. This is an ideal role for someone who prefers thinking over feeling. Thinking types collect and absorb information straightforwardly, while feeling people tend to put an emotional slant on the data they collect. If you need information from a verbatim perspective, then a thinker is your best choice for the role.
Implementers – Your implementers are the people who are going to plan the roll out of your ideas. They’ll come up with step-by-step guides, create user manuals, and manage the implementation schedule to ensure that the time it takes to complete the project is managed effectively. Some examples of implementers might include project managers, program developers, and administrative assistants. In this role, you’ll want someone who prefers judgement over perceiving. Despite the name, people who prefer judgment aren’t judgmental. Instead, they are people who prefer following rules, regulations, and procedures. They are organizers, while their counterparts, perceivers, tend to be less rigidly organized and just go with the flow, preferring to create the rules as they go. If you’re managing a major project, then you’ll need people who can roll out the project efficiently. Judgment types are known for their efficiency and analytical nature.
Outreachers – Your outreachers are the people that you’re going to need to get your ideas out and make people participate in the change. If you’re in a position where you need to gather support for a cause, then you’ll want an extrovert in the role. Some examples of outreachers include sales staff, customer service representatives, and marketing managers. Extroverts are charismatic, enthusiastic, and are great at reading people. When you need to put a public face on your project, an extrovert will be better for the role. Introverts tend to be more inwardly focused and are not as comfortable talking to people, while extroverts live to interact—in fact, they’re energized by it. To get people behind your cause, creating a team of extroverted outreachers is your best bet.
Of course, like personalities, none of these rules are static. Some cases might require that a team leader be more focused on sensing over intuition, while others might demand researchers that are able to understand the emotions behind data. The point of personality testing is to allow you to know who you are pairing together, regardless of how you choose to do it.
One of the most important things to remember is that you can’t change an individual worker’s personality type. It’s not possible to get an introvert to become an extrovert for one project, and vice versa. That doesn’t necessarily mean that personalities are static; people who are born introverts may become extroverts over time. The thing to remember is that it’s never an instant change. Trying to force a personality to fit a different mold will almost surely end in failure. Instead of trying to make individuals fit a certain personality, it’s about making personalities fit a team.
By building your team from the bottom up, with a focus on personality, you can head off common team problems before they even start. At Applied Vision Works, our Teamship challenge activities can make the most of your team’s productivity. Get the most impact out of your teams by letting us help you build the perfect group.