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Team Builders Negotiate Personality Type Differences at Work 8 Ways
Personality type differences among team members can both stir conflict and be useful assets for building good functioning teams. This is where knowledge of personality type can become a helpful tool—a tool for productive conflict management.
A team may have several members who are similar in personality type, and it is likely those members who can more readily understand each other. However, there may just be a few team members who are quite different in personality type from the others. It is these members—even just one or two of them—when added to the mix of the group that can make understanding communication take quite a bit longer to come by ... and thus the potential for conflict. These team members may seem to resist working with the others.
The Myers-Briggs® personality types can provide information about
- the different talents each type has to offer, and
- the skills of other types that team members can learn from.
Where a team is coached on how to apply the knowledge of personality types, they can more successfully manage a team made up of many different types.
Annoying differences are valuable
Teams with a high similarity of type amongst its members will reach quicker decisions, but are more likely to make errors, because of inadequate representation of all viewpoints. Teams with many different types represented by its members, though they may be annoying differences and decisions are reached at a slower pace, they will reach better quality decisions, because more viewpoints are covered.
There are eight different type parameters and each has predictable talents. Each team member's talents can be matched with tasks that fit them. Here are the talents that each personality type has to offer to the team.
Conceptualizes the problem and looks deeply into issues
Knows the situational variables, and makes the social contacts needed for taking action
Knows the facts and realities needed in the planning phase, and works out the details for implementation
Sees the big picture, forges into new areas, and comes up with new possibilities
Spots the flaws and inconsistencies of a plan
Sees the human side, and is persuasive
Systematic, organizes and is decisive
Open and understanding, and is flexible when the system breaks down
These talents are what can at certain times—and in certain relationships and situations—become annoying. Making good use of these annoying traits, however, can look like the following team building assets.
How To Lead A Productive Staff Meeting
#1 - Negotiate Productive Meetings
When huge issues come up for discussion in meetings, the Extravert types talk and talk. The Introvert types can't focus, however, because before they know it the Extraverts are on a completely different topic! The meetings go on and on forever and nothing gets decided.
Put our knowledge of type to use and what can be done to turn this problem into an asset?
- Send out notices listing the issues under discussion in advance. The Introvert types can think about it before the meeting. All can be encouraged to call the discussion leader or boss and the Extravert types will call and talk it out before the meeting. Figuring out what they think before the meeting discussion results in much shorter meetings.
- Help the Introverts participate in conversations and discussions. Once the discussion warms up and likely a thought has formed they want to try to say, give them some room to get into the conversation. Ask the Introvert type "Did you want to say some thoughts?" Even if they have not reached any conclusions, once they get into the conversation, it's not so difficult for them to continue to participate.
#2 - Negotiate Good Decision-making
Weighing in the various perspectives that different types tend to offer can enhance the decision-making process and lead to better decisions than were a decision resting on just one type's perspective. The following can be assets to this process:
- Basic facts and realities are taken into account (Sensing type)
- New possibilities are opened up (Intuition type)
- Project unforeseen inconsistencies or consequences (Thinking type)
- Further values important to those concerned or affected (Feeling type)
How can you manage conflict within your team
#3 - Negotiate Good Implementation of Change
Change seems to be a constant in organizations, often driven by bosses with the NT personality type; Intuition-Thinking. The Sensing type employee can readily "sense" an alienation from the power structure. (Doesn't matter what gender or race, either!)
It seemed to the Sensing types that they were operating in a world of chaos and turmoil, because the Intuition type bosses were constantly driving for change! On the other hand, it seems to the Intuition-Thinking types that Sensing types resist much change.
Intuition-Thinking type bosses could, instead, see the Sensing types on their team as an asset and include some of them in their management circle.
Yes, the Sensing types will seem resistant when they divert discussion from the big picture onto the details. However, the Intuition-Thinking type boss will find it easier and have more patience when this happens once the true importance of these details are seen. The important details actually make all the difference in how well and how fast the new ideas for change would be implemented.
#4 - Negotiate to Inspire to Change
Change, on the other hand, often cannot be envisioned or imagined without the Intuition type. When the way it has always been done stops working, the problem or issue a team has run into requires something else - a new idea for a possible solution!
Sensing - Feeling
#5 - Negotiate Proof of the Benefit of a Change
The Thinking type is more concerned with truth and task. When the boss is a Thinking type, those who are not, cannot just offer opinion based on their sense of how others will value what is being suggested or just request something from the boss just because it seems important. The Thinking type boss needs the FACTS - particularly if he or she is also a Sensing Type!
Say a Sensing type employee who is also a Feeling type, an S - F type, wants to start an in-house company newsletter. This employee could send out a questionnaire to all in the company to rate how useful they thought an in-house newsletter with specific types of content would be. The results of this questionnaire can then be taken to the Thinking type boss and say, for example, that 78% of the employees would find it helpful. The boss may then clearly see the value and be sold on the newsletter idea. Facts like this may also help show the Feeling type's hunch about the newsletter idea is a good one.
(Thinking type help the Feeling type)
#6 - Negotiate a Place for Differing Opinions
Varying opinions and disagreement on decisions can be agony to the Feeling type, particularly when in charge of a meeting or a team. Disagreement is seen as a threat to working harmony in team member relationships.
It is made worse when team members ask privately for the Feeling type's support of their particular opinion. When the Feeling type waffles in an effort not to offend, they may say, "You're the leader. You have to pick a position on this."
Thinking types can help by urging the Feeling type to consider what he or she wants to do, if preserving harmony were ignored for now. When the concern over keeping the harmony is set aside for the time being, all the confusion will disappear the the Feeling type is then able to see what his or her own views are.
Human beings that we are cannot realistically expect to be in harmony when meeting for the purpose to discuss and air various opinions and differing views. That's the very reason for the meeting, because there are no harmonious solutions in the first place!
The Feeling type may as well then go ahead and articulate their own position, then later they can go back and pick up the harmony later. Just because they disagree with people, there doesn't have to be a break in the relationships. Each other's integrity can still be respected.
Feeling - Judging
#7 - Negotiate for Good Meeting Facilitation
The Judging type meeting facilitator who often asks people to get back to the point at hand, or to plan things in a specific time frame can get him or her concerned. The Judging type does not like the feeling of being a taskmaster (especially if she or he is a Feeling type).
The Judging type facilitator might ask for feedback from the group about whether this style of facilitation is annoying to them. Probably 95% of the time they will find their facilitation style is appreciated.
The good feedback will help the Judging type facilitator who is also a Feeling type, an F-J type, only for a while. The imbalance of the taskmaster style of facilitation gets uncomfortable for the F-J and can undermine their self-confidence as the facilitator who tends to be concerned to keep the harmony. The F-J type facilitator needs to tell him or herself that it's not wrong to need some specifics and closure, and that the group is better off because such facilitation of the group brings them "down to earth".
Leadership skills for creating engaged team members
#8 - Negotiate a Good Exploration of Issues
Questions and requests for more information are readily introduced into discussions and meetings by the Perceiving type. This is helpful to the decision or discussion process when an issue or problem requires further exploration. The Judging types in the group would do well to allow such questioning during the exploration stage and hold back on making any conclusions ... yet.
The Perceiving types will, however, actually tend to stay in this question mode. If allowed to continue with their questions, this can keep the group from reaching consensus. When the leader wants to move beyond the exploration stage, particularly if others in the group are getting frustrated and quiet, he or she might redirect the Perceiving type. Call a break, for example, and talk to the Perceiving type questioner and ask something like, "Do you think that maybe if you were not in that room they'd be able to make a decision?" Once realized, the Perceiving type could be asked to pause his or her divergent thinking for the decision stage of convergent thinking!
Finding the Right Balance
Toxic personalities can ruin a workplace!
Balance Out the Team
Teams made up of a variety of personality types can turn annoyance and conflict into productive team work. Not only will the work be productive but it will also provide the various resources that make for more successful work results.
Teams that are not balanced out with the various type resources will be more "one-sided". They will have fewer types and their talents to draw from. One-sided teams may fail if they overlook aspects of problems which other types would have pointed out. If they stay rigidly true to the types on the one-sided team, they will fail to pull in the resources and talents not represented on the team but are needed for the task.
One-sided teams can be balanced out for sucess if they
- find different types outside the team as outside resources, and
- make the effort to use their own less-skilled type processes for the tasks that require them.
© 2010 Deidre Shelden