How do you make the most of the contrast of your team members?

The best teams balance the different personality types of those on the team. The outgoing, fun-loving team member offsets the focused, detail oriented one, while the get-things-done person equalizes the one who makes sure everyone gets what they need.

It’s like the contrast of a pink pickup truck!

When you are building your team, it is important to pay attention to personality differences. If your whole team consists of people like you, then you will be ineffective in your decision-making and you will not get much done. Having a balance of personality types on your team allows the group to see things from all angles.

As a quick overview, the DISC profile is one of the most common, simple to understand personality profiles. There are generally four different personality types:

  • D – Dominant (described as a lion) – results-oriented, not as concerned with details, all about getting things done
  • I – Influencer (described as an otter) – loves pleasing people, impulsive, not focused on details, quick to make decisions if it means having fun
  • S – Steady (described as a retriever) – hates conflict, loyal, wants to make sure everyone is happy, may take longer to make decisions because they have to consider how everyone will be affected
  • C – Compliant (described as a beaver) – all about the details, analytical, rules are there for a reason, will take longer to make a decision because all angles have to be considered

In the wrong environment, these different personalities can drive each other crazy. The D’s and I’s will be trying to move ahead without thinking of the specifics necessary, and the S’s and C’s will be frustrated because they don’t have time to consider each perspective. It is important to respect the things that each team member brings to the table.

The leadership team of the nonprofit where I work is a perfect example of contrasts. Most of the team are “I / Influencing” or “D / Dominant,” one is an “S / Steady” and two of us are “C / Compliant.” We are currently planning for a large volunteer team that will be helping us at the end of the month.

We first met to brainstorm potential projects – so the I’s and D’s had great, out of the box ideas for things the group could do. The two C’s then took those ideas to work through all the contingencies and particulars, including communicating what steps are involved, what supplies will be needed, and in what order to do some of the tasks. We have met again to review the details, and answer the remaining questions. The C’s will put together the final plan and then on the volunteer day, the I’s and D’s will be the perfect leaders and cheerleaders for the volunteer team. That’s a win-win situation!

Some of the strategies to work well together include:

  • Agree to disagree – you won’t agree, that’s a given. But you need to respect each other’s strengths and use that to the team’s advantage.
  • Voice all concerns – be sure to get any apprehensions or potential problems out in the open, but in a positive way. For each problem, consider possible solutions.
  • Give each person the floor – the I’s and D’s will tend to dominate the conversation, so be sure to let the S’s and C’s have a say.
  • Don’t rush a decision – give the S’s and C’s time to think through contingencies or risk missing something important.
  • Support the final decision. Once the team makes a decision, the entire team supports it.

Understanding the different personality types is half the battle. Once you recognize the strengths of each person, then you can start to build a stronger team and more effective decision-making process by capitalizing on those strengths.

How can you better use the differences of your team members for a stronger team?