One of the greatest challenges facing organisations worldwide is the issue of teamworking. When done well, teams become far more than the sum of their parts, boosting organisation performance to untold heights. When done poorly, organisational engagement, satisfaction, and morale are likely to take a massive hit, reducing both individual and team performance.
However, teams are simply groups of people, and a large body of academic literature is available regarding group dynamics. In particular, the personality types and traits associated with group members are likely to strongly influence the success or failure of effective teambuilding in the workplace. In this article, I will outline the ways in which personality traits can be utilised to build highly effective teams within the workplace.
First and foremost, the primary consideration when building effective teams is to minimise the probability of harmful conflict. When conflict arises within teams, productivity is placed on hold until a resolution has been reached. Additionally, if resentment continues to linger, this will create an atmosphere of tension and awkwardness, further reducing morale. It is therefore imperative that teams comprise individuals that are unlikely to clash with one another, reducing the frequency and intensity of internal team conflicts.
To achieve this, teams must include a combination of assertive and cooperative individuals. When a team comprises only assertive individuals, this is highly likely to result in long, drawn-out arguments where neither party is willing to back down. Conversely, teams of only cooperative individuals are likely to adopt an avoidant stance to conflict, letting grievances fester over long periods of time, creating a constant sense of tension within the team. Having a balanced team with individuals that display different conflict resolution styles is the key to minimising this phenomenon, maximising the probability of a quick resolution.
Emotional intelligence, unlike cognitive intelligence as measured by ability psychometric tests (i.e. verbal, numerical, and inductive reasoning tests), describes a person’s natural proclivity towards understanding emotion. Individuals with higher levels of emotional intelligence are more likely to effectively read and empathise with other people’s emotions, greatly aiding in relationship building. They are also acutely aware of their own emotional states, which is helpful from a self-management perspective.
As a general role, emotional intelligence within teams is something to be maximised, ensuring that everyone is able to tactfully speak their mind and remain in tune with their fellow team members. Those who score low on emotional intelligence are less likely to feel deeply connected to their teammates, making effective teambuilding hard. Additionally, low scorers are less likely to regulate their own behaviour effectively, making them seem unpredictable and volatile to their teammates. Naturally, building a highly emotionally intelligent team requires alignment from the full talent cycle, from employee selection to personal development.
Lastly, we have the personality trait of extraversion, which underpins how talkative, gregarious, energetic, and interpersonally focused an individual is. Extraversion is a major constituent of the Big Five personality traits, and is also a major dichotomy within the Myers-Briggs typology – as might be seen in a Myers-Briggs 16 personalities test. Introverted individuals, those who score low on an extraversion scale, are more likely to prefer individual contributions, requiring less interpersonal interaction and favouring solitude to a higher degree.
Although it isn’t required for teams to solely comprise extraverts, for optimal smooth running of teams it is advised to have at least a few extraverts on each team. Extraverts are disproportionately likely to take an informal leadership / coordinating role within the team, and thus help keep the team together. A team solely comprised of introverts is likely to represent people working apart from one another, minimising the benefit of team-working more generally. Having at least a few extraverts on the team will negate this, boosting team cohesion.
Teams are comprised of individual human beings, each expressing their own unique behavioural styles, approaches, or characteristics. This complexity is magnified when they are combined together within a team, often yielding unpredictable results. However, the field of psychology has revealed several consistent findings in group dynamics, and certain combinations of personality profiles are likely to yield consistent results – even with more amusing tests, such as a personality Marvel character test. Ultimately, the personalities of team members can be considered the primary determiner of team success or failure, and teambuilding activities must always consider the individual behavioural characteristics of their constituent members. Failure to account for this will result in excessive conflict, poor team cohesion, and reduced effectiveness, to the detriment of everyone involved. However, when done well, teams will thrive, creating a welcoming, enjoyable, productive environment that everyone feels glad to be a part of.