Building a Winning Team is Not a Personality Sweepstake

Building a Winning Team is Not a Personality Sweepstake

June 10, 2020

SumTotal Regional Vice President, Asia & A/NZ Rhys Hughes examines the different personality types that make a winning team, and shares how to nurture each type to get the best performance from everyone.

By Rhys Hughes

The importance of team dynamics and personality types has been long established – everyone knows the impact of having too many ‘alpha’ personality types in a meeting. On the other hand, if nobody is prepared to take responsibility and set a direction within a team, it can be just as difficult to succeed. Successful teams need a range of personality profiles to work effectively.

One of the challenges of creating teams is that people have the tendency to form homogenous subgroups of members with similar skills, social backgrounds and age groups. In today’s organisations and businesses, leaders need to seek a heterogeneous team composition.

Composing a winning team requires recognition of people’s different personality types and an understanding of how these fit into the team dynamic. As well as being an effective way of finding suitable talents, considering personality profile is also helpful for employee development and helps to set suitable incentives to motivate people on a more personal basis.

Typically, people are categorised into six groupings or ‘roles’ based on their personality. These determine how they contribute best to a team and their motivations within the workplace:

The Leader

A dynamic individual with the confidence to provide their team with clear direction and purpose. They hold the ability to solve problems, remove obstacles, and take responsibility if things go wrong. They inspire team contribution, leading by example to be successful.

Motivated by autonomy, the Leader enjoys proving themselves every step of the way by being tested with new challenges and greater responsibility. They long to lead and inspire a team who trusts in their guidance and actions.

The Clown

Humourous and reconciling, NASA and other researchers agree, every group needs a clown. Happy to listen and help solve their team member’s personal problems, they have the ability to resolve tensions and pave the way to re-focus the attention back on a common goal. Their laughter and encouragement of recreational activities, in addition to the actual work, supports team solidarity.

Motivated by positive feedback and the trust of their colleagues, the Clown cares about what others think of them. Whilst their extroverted character may worry their team leaders and HR managers, when given the time, they prove their worth and show their value to the team.

The Specialist

Experts in their field, the Specialist often has the technical or business capabilities necessary for the task and objectives set for them. However, this can mean they have tunnel vision, unable to lose sight of their specific task or think outside the box. Communication can be tricky for the Specialist, often finding it hard to comprehensively explain their thoughts to ‘non-experts’. However, they are valued for their knowledge and as such, most teams have at least one or more specialist.

Specialists attach great importance to being appreciated for their technical expertise. However, it is just as important to support their integration into the group with a view of the overall goal. Communication training can help specialists to find their ideal place within the team, which will motivate them further.

The High-Performer

Always ready to roll up their sleeves and deliver maximum performance, every HR manager is on the lookout for a High-Performer. They are a lover of challenges, responsibility, and independence. A team leader in some groups, they have a tendency to be mentally agile and responsive to changing demands and structures. In some situations, they prefer to steer clear of the overall management in order to concentrate on concrete results and success. However, they are guaranteed to work hard to achieve this.

Regular acknowledgment and rewards in recognition of their exceptional performance can help in retaining the High-Performer. They thrive when provided with continuous and varied projects and challenges. They also respond well to development opportunities and exciting career prospects.

The Expert

With a wealth of experience, the Expert can contribute their knowledge to help solve any problem. A calming influence and trusting member, they are happy to share their extensive knowledge with the rest of the team.

Eager to help share their expertise with others, the Expert is motivated through development opportunities such as mentoring new employees or playing a key role in exchanges with other departments. They wish to be valued in the team for the experience and reliability they contribute.

The New Member

Bringing valuable know-how and a fresh perspective, the New Member can provide inspiring impulses for the team’s task. However, their arrival can also lead to unrest in the team, changing the dynamics of the group.

Starting in a new team is easier with a good induction plan and mentorship. Having a clear description of their responsibilities within the team and communication of the team’s goals can motivate the New Member to get the ball rolling. Furthermore, regular feedback, especially with regard to performance and career goals, is an important drive when starting out.

Find the Balance

Building a winning team, that is successful and productive, is achieved through an effective combination of varying personalities. While these roles are informally assigned, a team thrives when each individual unconsciously fulfils their functional role within the group. For example, if the Leader is not in a position of responsibility, then conflicts are likely to arise.

It is crucial that leaders assess whether a person’s personality is suited to a specific position. Equally important is the consideration of their profile in terms of employee development, targeted support, motivation and feedback. Modern talent management systems support an ongoing dialogue and feedback, the development and pursuit of career goals, and access to learning material to develop each employee’s skills. As with anything in life, balance and diversity contributes to a winning team and allows individuals to complement, rather than conflict, with those around them. The benefits of recognising and utilising people’s personality types are plentiful.

(Ed. SumTotal Regional Vice President, Asia & A/NZ Rhys Hughes says he has direct selling / leadership expertise across most major industry verticals in APAC, coupled with a strong network of Tier 1 to Tier 3 System Integrators/ Resellers & Managing Advisory firms. Hughes has a Bachelor of Commerce (Marketing Management/Corporate Law) and Bachelor of Arts (Double Major Psychology & Political Science), from the University of Melbourne.)


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