Have you ever met someone and walked away after a few minutes thinking, “Hey, I really like that person” or instead, “Yikes, we are so different.”

Sometimes this happens subconsciously, and whether we’d like to believe it or not, personality plays a huge role in how we interact with one another on a personal level and in a business setting.

I don’t mean to say that we are not products of our environment, culture, or upbringing. Of course we are! And, it’s not that we cannot control our responses in a given situation. We absolutely can. But ignoring the very real impact of our natural personality traits can put us at a disadvantage, especially in a team environment where success depends on collaboration and working towards a common goal.

Here are some tips to help harness the personality types of your team members, so they can be used to empower the team’s productivity:

Employ a personality test 

There are lots of them out there, and you can spend a lot of money on them, but you don’t have to. The most well-known is probably the Myers-Briggs Type Instrument, which breaks people up into 16 potential personality types. A simpler one is the Red, Yellow, Blue, Green test, which breaks us into one of four and offers to-dos and not-to-dos when dealing with each type. Another version of the Red, Yellow, Blue, Green test can be found at:  http://www.balticuniv.uu.se/index.php/bup-archive/doc_download/474-the-rainbow-personality-test

Knowing your colleagues’ personality types can help you interact more effectively with them

Just like with your kids at home, there may be one who will do all his chores in the order asked and then go to bed at 9:00 as requested. However, another one might push back at rigid orders, but will happily submit if you offer the option to take care of his business and get to bed in the next half hour. Your colleagues aren’t your kids, but as adults we all know how we like to do things and how we like to be treated. Meet people where they are personality-wise, and you’ll get a lot better results.

Personality profiling can help maximize everyone’s potential

Not too long ago, personality profiling was more about identifying weaknesses so we could work on shoring them up. Current recommendations, however, focus on just the opposite– playing to people’s strengths rather than overly-focusing on filling gaps. It’s important to continue to improve ourselves, but the truth is nobody is good at everything, but everybody is good at something. The most effective teams are those where everyone gets to do what they do best.

Honesty is the best policy 

When it comes to taking a personality test, there is no right or wrong answer. Each answer is true to the person taking the test.  Therefore there is no right or wrong personality. That said, our culture dictates (sometimes strongly) what types of traits are valued more than others, and that can influence your answers. For this to work, you have to combat those voices. Answer the questions as you truly are not as you would like to be.

How does personality impact productivity on project teams?

At Solarity, I’ve seen how understanding personalities has improved the results of project teams on which I’ve participated. For example, in the Red, Yellow, Blue, Green test, I’m a Red. That’s the Type A, aggressive, big picture person with a strong penchant for leadership. One of my colleagues, on the other-hand, is a Blue, which makes them more analytical, more detail-oriented. This team member keeps me grounded, and so we work really well together. They make sure that I’m not just driving the bus forward, but that I’ve got the wheels pointed in the right direction. By the same token, my Red style helps to ensure that we keep moving and do not get bogged down in minutiae.

It may be tempting (and natural) to gravitate towards people who are like you, but in a team situation, what makes us different is actually what makes us strong. To paraphrase Christian psychologist Dr. James Dobson, if two people are exactly the same, one of you is not necessary.

Think about that while you take your personality test!

About the Author

Brian McBrayerBrian McBrayer, PMP®, is a Project Manager with Solarity, helping our clients achieve their strategic goals by assessing their current situation, defining their desired future state, and then acting upon an approved plan to help them reach their desired outcomes.

Before joining Solarity, Brian was a Project Manager with Tenmast Software, based in Lexington, KY. He is a member of both the global & local chapters of the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. His experience includes project management, sales management & organizational leadership in the software, public safety, & food industries. 

Brian has a degree in Marketing from Morehead State University. He is happily married and has two grown sons.

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