How to Manage a High-Performance Team Made Up of Different Personalities
When it comes right down to it, all men aren’t created equal. Now this is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it comes to assembling your business team. Having team members with different backgrounds, as well as skills and specialisations, is what drives innovation and ensures that you have all the bases covered by receiving inputs from all possible sides.
It’s up to you, the team leader or manager, to see to it that everyone on your team is performing their best, contributing all that they can, and is happy while working with everyone else. This, of course, is much easier said than done, as many teams in today’s workplace have members who may be about as alike as chalk and cheese.
How do you keep your team running like a well-oiled machine when its parts don’t seem to fit together? It all boils down to taking a micro and macro view of your team, which means relating to individual team members, and considering the needs of your team as a whole.
Go, Team… Players!
Acknowledging everyone’s individuality is the first step towards unity. While that may seem self-contradictory, it makes sense when you think of it as an assessment of the way someone fits into your team. Getting to know each team member through regular one-on-one’s will enable you to adjust your management style accordingly as both coach and team captain. Many descriptions and evaluations of the various personality types exist (such as this one by Deloitte), but to give you a fresh and hopefully clearer perspective of team dynamics, we have our own sporty take on workplace personalities. We’ll also give you a hint or two as to how you may be able to adapt to each of them or relate to them on a personal level.
- The Most Valuable Player (MVP). These are your super achievers who are very good at what they do. They’re quick on the uptake, able to work independently, and readily learn what they need to, as needed. They are also often able to help others out whilst performing their own tasks and have a healthy amount of confidence in their abilities.
Even if they may not express it openly (or even be aware of it), MVP’s look for affirmation of their achievements. However, there are MVP’s who, knowing just how good they are, might be a bit too confident. If such is the case with one of your own, try having a two-person huddle to remind your star player that everyone else on the team is just as valuable as he is.
- The Defender. These are your introverts, the “strong and silent” types who are great at what they do, but aren’t the type to broadcast it. Because of this, other team members might get the idea that defenders may not be as smart or slacking off. In this instance, communication has a crucial role to play in letting everyone know what everyone else is actually up to.
Bear in mind that it’s not that defenders are stand-offish; indeed, many of them are just naturally diffident—but this does not in any way detract from the often high quality of their performance. As you encourage them to be more communicative and assure them that they will be listened to, be sure to check in with them regularly in a friendly, unobtrusive manner.
- The Cheerleader. These are your social butterflies who get along with everybody and want to make sure everyone is all right. In terms of performance, many of them do tend to be above average and excel at project management. Team members generally feel comfortable around them and may look to them for both work-related and moral support.
Because of the way they seem to know what’s going on with everybody, cheerleaders might give the impression that they are nosy or a source of workplace gossip. They might also seem to be spending more time on the office grapevine than actually working. Again, open team communication and a quick tête-à-tête may be all you need to get them back on track.
- The Wildcard. These are your creatives, the artistic, unconventional types who don’t seem to think in the same way as everyone else, and therefore tend to be a tad unpredictable. Yet, these are the team players who usually (not exclusively) come up with the ideas that could (and often do) make a whole difference to the team’s overall output.
Though they may not always appear to be, wildcards work as hard as anyone and are usually more emotionally invested into their work. Because of this, they need to know that their work is respected or appreciated. As you give wildcards the space they need to ideate and create, channel their energies to make sure that their innovations remain aligned with team goals.
- The Benchwarmer. Let’s be honest, every organisation has them, but don’t let their name fool you—these team players play a role that’s just as important as the rest of the team. While they may not particularly stand out in terms of performance, they are the backbone of your team whom you should be able to count on to give their hardworking best time after time.
While not every benchwarmer has the potential to become an MVP, they have strengths as well as weaknesses just like everyone else. Reach out to them so you can work on identifying these strengths in order to build them up, as well as compensate for the weaknesses where possible. Don’t forget—these team players also have a hand in carrying out your game plan.
United, We Stand
The winning strategy for your personality-diverse team also hinges on how you understand and facilitate the way your team works as a single unit. In writing for Fast Company, Ted Leonhardt points out how it’s possible to set norms or rules of conduct for your whole team that everyone can observe regardless of their individual personalities.
These norms may vary between teams and organisations, but they generally include reminding everyone of the objectives that the team needs to reach together, and that everyone has an important role to play in meeting those objectives. Remind everyone that they need to show respect towards everyone else on the team, and that no one should be left out or left behind.
Assure everyone that they’re not alone on the team and that you and everyone else are ready to help when necessary and to listen when they have something to say. But remind them likewise that everyone is counting on them to perform their tasks well, and to complete them on time.
And just as you continue to build personal, individual relationships with each member of the team, you can also get to know them collectively by working alongside them wherever possible. Also make it a point to celebrate victories (big or small) with them, and to be there for them (as well as learn from it) when things don’t go according to plan.
Leading and managing teams is something we know a lot about at Kaleidoskope, as our trainers have helped key decision-makers as well as those with leadership potential to become better, more effective leaders. Find out how you can hone your own leadership skills along with those of your fellow managers by getting in touch with us at Kaleidoskope, today.
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