Working with a team of people can be exhilarating—and challenging. Aside from the chemistry of personalities and work styles that affect a group dynamic, there’s also the territorial play. We don’t mean to get all Wild Kingdom on you, but we humans are territorial beings. In the biz world, this means that when individual roles and responsibilities aren’t well-defined, individuals get testy, the team dynamics go haywire and the project suffers as a result.
Popular theories say a high-performing team is comprised of both distinctly defined roles and a well-rounded collection of personality archetypes. Here’s a guide to 7 personality types that complete a successful team.
Common wisdom: Before you begin any project, have an established leader. This person is responsible for mediating conflicts, facilitating communications between team members, and keeping everyone on course. The leader will schedule and guide the course of meetings, but that doesn’t mean being the only speaker, or leading all the meetings. A good leader knows how to delegate and let go of the reins.
You can recognize leadership qualities in people who have strong communications skills, a clear and expansive vision of the project’s end-result, and the ability to motivate others.
The team player
Team players are identified by their enthusiasm to work together for a common good. They’re usually eager to help, willing to compromise and diplomatic. They might not the biggest initiators in the world, but you can rely on team players to follow-through on tasks and to willingly settle conflicts with their calming demeanor (they’re sort of like the glue of the group). This type doesn’t exclude other roles from being strong team players, but the team player archetype values group camaraderie and success over the individual prize.
The researcher types—who show up in sales, IT, support, marketing, content, etc.—are always asking questions and then finding their own answers. If you need more information to complete your project, it’s important to have a strong researcher who can get it for you. Their special talent: Researchers ask the overlooked questions that can avert a future impediment. This natural private eye knows the quickest way to the best resources and is the person everyone goes to with the most puzzling questions.
Most projects, especially in technology, need a subject matter expert. This is the person that possesses intimate knowledge in a field that your project encompasses. So, if you’re on the marketing team within a group that is working on new mobile software, you need a developer to go to who will explain the necessary technical details and offerings—and make sure you’re accurately representing the product in your messaging. Depending on the end goal, you might want to sign up some designated experts to contribute to the project.
Planners are naturally self-motivated. They’re also driven to organize processes and give order to the world around them (good news for others working in their orbit). You don’t have to worry about planners being people-pleasers; they’re more dedicated to making decisions for the good of the project over winning a popularity contest. If you have a natural planner on your team, trust that their skills will deliver your project in the estimated period of time. Natural planners love lists, charts, and calendars. They’re punctual, able to see the curve in the road (and incoming curve balls) and often have strategies for improving a process or increasing team efficiency.
Creative types have a tendency to get caught up in their world of imagination, problem solving, and conceptualizing. They might not always be the clearest communicators, diplomats or deadline-makers, but pair them with a savvy planner and you could almost spin gold! These creative types don’t just live in the likes of art and copywriting departments—they could be in accounting, sales, you name it. Every team benefits from a creative thinker in the group—someone who can deliver fresh ideas and solutions that let the team’s work stand out from the crowd.
To spot a creative, look for the original thinker, the person willing to turn the status quo on its head and come up with a new approach to a long-standing goal.
Communicators are often thought of as the salespeople, marketers, writers and leaders. Those are communication jobs. We’re talking about the natural communicators—not just the talkative ones (that’s often part of it), but individuals who are naturally inclined to reach out to others and share information with the entire team. Communicators are also good at persuading just about anyone to jump on board and give the team the help it needs. Your communicator might be the person with the longest list of contacts, and knows someone for just about anything you need.
Teams aren’t perfect universes, and we don’t always get to work in a group that has one of every one of these personality types. But recognizing people’s strengths (either on your existing team or while interviewing potential candidates) is a worthwhile first step in creating a well-rounded team.
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