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Making It Work
How To Play To People's Strengths And Personalities To Build A Great Team
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Evangelia Leclaire image
Evangelia Leclaire

I spent over a decade of my career recruiting, hiring, and training high-performing teams, and what I know for sure is that personalities matter just as much as skills. Most hiring managers will hire based on personality, competencies, values, character, and attitude. Whether you're a hiring manager, recruiter, or team leader/member, it's important to understand and play to the strengths of your own personality as well as those of your teammates to be most effective at work.

6 Tips for Building a Team Based on Personalities

Here are my top 6 tips to building a supreme team based on personality traits.

1. Use personality assessment tests.

Tools like Myer’s Briggs and DiSC® profiles will give you valuable insight to develop an effective team, including a person’s natural strengths, character traits, intrinsic and extrinsic motivators, verbal and written communication styles, how they may act when stressed, and how they like to be rewarded and recognized. Certain personality types are better suited for specific roles, and these assessments even help identify which activities may cause a person to gain or be drained of energy.

2. Don’t judge solely on personality assessment tests.

This isn’t meant to generalize. If a person is of a specific personality type, it doesn’t mean that she or he cannot thrive in areas outside of the scope defined by the personality assessment test. More often than not, you’ll be able to see that person’s traits fit within several of the other personality profiles. There can be aspects of one’s personality that are the most dominant when at work, and others that are more dominant life in one's personal life. 

For example, the Myer’s Brigg’s personality test asserts that extroverts are naturally inclined to network, present, persuade, and speak publicly, but this doesn’t mean that introverts cannot succeed in roles that require them to deliver presentations, speeches, networking, and the like. It may just take a bit more energy for an introvert to engage in those type of activities.

3. Identify the role of each position within the company and team.

Then list out the values, skills, character, and personality traits of the ideal candidates for each position. 

If you are hiring for a specific role within a team in which every team member has similar responsibilities, such as that of a sales representative, then take into consideration the personality type that is best suited for that position. The personality type that is more likely to succeed in a sales role is much different from the type best suited to a data analysis role. A person that may fit the personality profile for a sales position is extroverted, persuasive, energetic, and has the gift of gab, whereas the individual who fits the profile of a data analyst may be more of an introvert who has a methodical, calm, and steady approach to how she or he works.

4. Consider how personality traits correlate to roles.

Here is a breakdown of some common roles within a company or team and a list of personality traits that are best suited for that role. Note that this isn’t a comprehensive list, but it could give you a general idea.

CEO: Visionary, Forward Thinking, Strategic, Influential

Human ResourcesRelationship Focused, Team-Oriented, Understanding, Mediator, Level-Headed, Calm, Cool and Collected

Sales and Customer Service Representatives: Extroverted, Relationship Focused, Networkers, Fast-Action, Influential, Persuasive, Expressive, Energetic, Quick-Thinking, Adaptive, Attention-Seeking, Interactive

Managers, Project Managers, Administrative, Operations, and Finance: Logical, Driven, Efficient, Orderly, Detail Oriented, Strategic, Process-Oriented, Structured, Efficient, Good at follow-up and follow-through, Enforcer

Creative Teams: Innovative, Initiators, Spontaneous, Perceptive,

Analytical, Technical or Research Teams: Detail Oriented, Logical, Process Oriented, Numbers Driven, Factual, Methodical, Reserved, Introverted, Analytical,

5. Envision how team members will work together.

When building a team to manage a project in which each team member has separate roles and responsibilities, identify your ideal team players and picture the best-case scenario for how they will interact and work with one another. Similar to hiring for a particular role, define the roles of each team member, along with the core skills, attitude, and personality types of those who would effectively drive the team and project forward.

As an example, most teams have a directive to carry out a vision and achieve project goals and milestones. It’s a given that you would want to have team members on the project who have the skill-set to complete it. Ideally, you also have a team leader who inspires a compelling vision, as well as a project manager who can see the vision and help break it down into detailed action steps and hold the team accountable. According to the Myer’s Briggs Assessment test, leaders who carry the (N) intuitive personality trait are most often visionary and forward thinking. They have the ability to drive a team forward by inspiring a compelling vision, but they may get frustrated in the weeds and details. In this case, it's important to have a person with the (S) sensory personality trait on the team who has an ability to understand the big picture and break it down into action steps, process, and systems.

6. Discuss team members' roles and strengths. 

In the initial phase of building a team, dedicate a team meeting to discuss one another’s roles, personality types, and communication styles (verbal, written and when under pressure).

By understanding people’s personality types within a team, we’re better equipped to communicate with them in a way that they best receive and process information. We can begin to see and understand the patterns in how different personalities may act when stressed and why people behave a certain way. As an example, an efficient director who is leading a team meeting may prefer laser-like focus and to get to the point quickly. That style may not bode well with other creative or expressive personality types. However, in sharing one’s styles, the goal would be to create more opportunity to understand, appreciate and harness one another’s natural strengths within the team.

By understanding and assembling teams based on personality types, we are equipped to hire teams that complement one another’s strengths and pair the right people up to cancel out each other’s weaknesses. Through understanding one another on this deeper level, it can also help us to not take another’s behavior or style of communication personally. It will help increase the effectiveness of team performance, communication, and cross-collaboration.

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Evangelia is an expert career coach at The Muse and founder of Career Ready Set Rock an independent consultancy for millennial women, moms and moms-to-be who want to make more moves, money and meaning in their lives and careers. Although Evangelia swears by strengths assessments and action plans, at heart she believes that the greatest life blessings and lessons come from being present, surrendering and having faith.  

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