Personalities and Teamwork

Why Should I Care About Personalities?

When assembling a team, most people aren’t concerned with personalities. To bring up such a topic to an aggressive recruiter is tantamount to mentioning voodoo, astrology, or tarot cards. Personality is nowhere on the radar. Yet, when comparing an effective team to an ineffective team, the differences seem to be supernatural.

There’s hardly any quantitative data to explain why two people with similar skills and experience may have drastically different outputs and achieve disparate results within their teams. Applicant tracking systems and skill matrices, the tools upon which recruiters thrive, don’t even come close to capturing the subtleties of what improves or downgrades a candidate’s applicability. Sometimes all it takes is someone who understands the nuances of personalities.

Companies are slowly adjusting to this trend by adopting personality indicators within their application materials, but that’s still pretty rare. Most often, hiring managers will include verbiage within the job description stating something similar to “must be an energetic and ambitious team player,” but most applicants will read that and just say “yeah that’s totally me.” So how can we optimize our hiring strategy to accommodate the subtleties of personalities? How can we make sure we’re hiring the absolute best person to fill our position?

Understanding Team Roles

The first step is to break a team down and classify its members based on role. Christina Hamlett writes a piece for Chron which does a fantastic job of outlining the roles of which professional teams are comprised. They break down into 4 major functions:

-Ask a lot of questions, perform research, and tend to exercise caution when adopting new ideas-Non-confrontational, often shy about voicing their concerns

-Feel the need to understand plans forward and backwards in order to assure a guaranteed outcome-Dependable and accommodating-Need to make an effort to avoid slowing down progress due to over-analyzing risks-Need to be asked to share their insights regularly

If you have a pretty good command of everyone’s role on your team, managing them becomes much easier. From a hiring perspective, potential roles can be deduced from interviews and used to assess a candidate’s fit with the current team. Furthermore, a proactive approach is to create a “profile” ahead of time of what your ideal candidate will be like, and which role you are hoping to fill. You might not want an Analyst-type to be working on something that requires spontaneity.

The Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator

Since our topic is personalities, we absolutely have to talk about Myers-Briggs. Some people take it really seriously and will try to make assumptions about someone based off their Myers-Briggs type, which is not what it’s supposed to be used for. However, your Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is an extremely useful tool in learning about yourself, and also about your teammates. If you have 5-10 minutes, I highly recommend taking this free quiz to determine your type. This site also provides very useful info about each type, some of which you may not be consciously aware of. For the sake of completeness, I’ll summarize the Myers-Briggs personality profiles:

<!--td {border: 0px solid #ccc;}br {mso-data-placement:same-cell;}-->Introverted (I)orExtroverted (E)Intuitive (N)or

Sensory (S)Feeling (F)orThinking (T)Perceiving (P)orJudging (J)

There are 4 “slots,” each of which has two options. Your MBTI is a four-letter abbreviation denoting which trait occupies each slot. I am extroverted, intuitive, thinking, and perceiving, so my MBTI is “ENTP.” This classification allows for 16 unique personality types.

I know what you’re thinking if this concept is new: “There are way more than 16 types of personalities.” You are correct. This test is meant to understand basic personality concepts in order to understand broader details like what motivates you, how you learn most effectively, etc. But when implemented team-wide, these results are invaluable for leaders especially when determining how to best manage each member of their team.

How Does Personality Affect Staffing?

GDI has been in business for over 25 years, and we owe a portion of our success to understanding the subtleties of personalities and teams. This means working closely with hiring managers to understand the setting, and vetting candidates thoroughly in order to determine their qualitative fit within an organization.

Hiring managers are strongly encouraged to implement some form of personality assessment on their teams. This process benefits synergy and productivity, as well as gaining a more refined perspective into the exact types of candidates an organization is looking for. Is your development team really introverted and analytical? It’s a good thing to know.


by Jack Virag Manager, Client Relations GDI Intotech Inc