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Leveraging Personality Type to Build Effective Teams

April 4, 2022

By: Wendy Sheaffer

A coworker of mine, we’ll call her Tonya (because that’s her name) always says, “Teamwork makes the dream work,” a phrase originally coined by John C. Maxwell in his book by the same name. We all expect her to say it any time one member of our team helps out another. Nothing beats that feeling when someone jumps in, unprompted, to help get things done simply because they had a minute to ease someone else’s burden. It makes everyone feel good and creates that “pay it forward” outlook.

She also says it when one team member agrees to do something they are good at, to the tremendous relief of someone else who either isn’t good at that thing or hates doing it. It’s the perfect example of team synergy — people using their personal strengths to help the group out as a whole. It makes the team stronger.

Another example of great teamwork is simply when everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing and the rest of the team never has to worry if stuff is getting done. Nothing causes instant cringing and eye rolls than when a slacker is assigned a critical activity that impacts other members of the group. The slacker aside, these examples highlight the power of teamwork and are all possible because the team is (mostly) high functioning. Everyone is productive, efficient, and engaged.

But how do you achieve such nirvana?

That’s a great question with many answers. Teams are made up of people. And people are complicated, messy sometimes, unique. We all march to the beat of our own drummer, and our differences are based upon a multitude of factors. As a manager of said people, you may never uncover them all.

But some, you absolutely can uncover. That’s where a personality assessment comes into play. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could identify the inherent strengths and challenges, the motivators and demotivators of the people on your team? That’s exactly what a personality assessment does. It gives you a map of your people.

What kind of map?

Of course, we are all individuals with varying skillsets, interests, backgrounds, talents, tastes, etc. A personality assessment can’t tell you if your team member likes chocolate versus vanilla ice cream, prefers Hulu or Netflix, has a great sense of humor, is musically gifted, or is a workout junkie. It also can’t tell you if one team member is an Excel master who can create pivot tables in their sleep while another has a keen design eye and uses In-Design just for fun. You find these things out over time through observation and conversation.

What a personality assessment can tell you about are the innate traits and motivators of each member of your team. It can tell you who on your team is a risk taker and who needs security; who on your team craves social interaction and who craves solitude; who likes surprises and who prefers predictability; and who needs structure and who requires independence. This type of information is invaluable for understanding the types of tasks each member of your team gravitates towards, what motivates each person, what upsets them, and how to communicate the most effectively with each person as an individual. You get a roadmap for the level of structure to give each person, how much detail to use and ways to recognize achievements. These are all important for optimizing your team and its productivity.

We all have varying degrees of 4 basic personality dimensions: assertiveness, sociability, pace, and structure. Omnia uses its 8-column bar graph to pinpoint those levels in each person on your team. It’s an easy visual aid.

The Personality Groups — Mixing it up

There are 17 Omnia personality groups that fit into four broad categories: The Analytical Supporters, the Social Supporters, the Social Drivers, and the Analytical Drivers. Everyone on your team fits into one of these groups and the dynamic mix of personalities is what contributes to the synergy that drives your team.

The Supporters

Supporters are natural team players. They are the Analytical Supporters and the Social Supporters. Both groups are eager to contribute to the overall success of the team from the sidelines. These two groups prefer to respond to needs and help everyone else get where they need to go. Rather than boldly taking charge or carving the path for everyone else, they provide the support needed to make sure the path is paved and easy for the team to travel on.

Analytical Supporters are socially reserved, so they draw their energy from work that is solitary and mentally engaging. If you need someone to do research or document findings in your database, someone from the Analytical Supporter group is your best fit. The Social Supporters get energy by interacting with people. They want to respond to needs, but they do not want to be in a corner by themselves. They need interaction and excel at cultivating relationships in a low-key, diplomatic way. Need someone to call your client list regarding a new upgrade? A Social Supporter should jump at the chance.

The Drivers

Drivers are natural leaders. They are the Social Drivers and the Analytical Drivers. Both groups are initiative-seizing, risk-takers. They want to take charge and drive results, and they often want to set themselves apart from the team. Rather than waiting to react to needs, these two groups prefer to make things happen and lead the way.

Analytical drivers are competitive and reserved. They focus on the facts and don’t pull any punches. They have a keen interest in gathering information and they rely on the evidence. They approach everything logically. They tend to enjoy controlling processes and are eager to find the problems that need to be fixed. If you need someone to manage a logistically complicated project, an Analytical Driver is your best bet. Social drivers are competitive and extroverted. They focus on people and connect easily with others. They are good at reading the room to nurture relationships. They tend to enjoy leading through other people and are eager to motivate and inspire the team. Need someone to lead cross-functional teams while keeping everyone in touch and engaged? Look for a Social Driver.

Teamwork makes the dream work!

Having diverse personalities on your team makes it stronger, but to optimize that potential, you need the map of your team. It’s the perfect complement to any team-focused people strategy. To learn more about taking an inventory of your team to leverage their strengths, challenges, and motivators, reach out to us anytime.

Wendy Sheaffer

Wendy is the former Chief Product Officer of The Omnia Group. She is a subject matter expert in behavioral assessments and in using Omnia’s 8 columns as a tool to make more-informed hiring and development decisions and effectively engage staff. For more information, email or call 800.525.7117.

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