Deadline approaching and all eyes are dependently watching you and your team. Stress level rising or are you riding the confidence knowing that you have a harmonized team up for the challenge? Bolstering a successful project is the leader’s ability to control emotions, as Stu Schlackman points out in Many Individuals, One Team. Here he explains how identifying the personalities of a team is another factor not to be undermined.
Most people know the left-brain versus right-brain theory of personality: some are more task oriented (or left-brain dominant); others are more relationship oriented (right-brain dominant). There are also numerous personality tools, such as MeyersBriggs, DISC, and the Social Styles, that accurately address individual temperament and behavior models. Understanding these different temperaments — and which team members are which — is a key step in building a high-performing team.
When you learn about the personality types of your team members, you’ll understand why some people make decisions quickly and others more slowly; why some prefer small talk when starting a conversation while others prefer to get right down to business; why some approach work methodically while others are less organized; why some are detail oriented while others are more interested in the big picture.
Some conflicts may be resolved just by knowing and respecting these differences: when Bob breezes by you in the hall, don’t take it personally — he just doesn’t enjoy small talk. Understanding the preferences and priorities of those around you helps to build trust. And when people tension goes down, productivity goes up.
The four personality style colors are blue, gold, green, and orange. The motivators, communication models, and characteristics of each style varies, and these differences can create conflict. But once you understand the style of each of your team members, you can better understand how to leverage individuals’ strengths to maximize the team’s performance
- Blues. Blue team members seek to build relationships and encourage friendly dialogue and open discussion. Blues are good at reading the emotions of other team members and will listen to their concerns. They are the peacemakers and arbitrators.
- Characteristics: Loyal, friendly, conflict adverse, creative, compromising
- Motivated by: Recognition and appreciation for their contributions
- Communication style: Small talk; prefer to focus on the other person
- Decision-making style: Make decisions based on consensus and others’ feelings
- Golds. Gold team members are task oriented and measure worth by accomplishment. They like to lead, focus on the overall mission, and will urge other team members to work hard. To function well, golds need to have schedules, plans, and procedures.
- Characteristics: Well organized, process oriented, methodical
- Motivated by: Recognition and appreciation for their dependability and organization
- Communication style: Formal, balanced, and controlled conversation; agenda driven
- Decision-making style: Need a reason to make a decision
- Greens. Green team members don’t like routine and prefer to work on specific jobs utilizing their expertise. They typically avoid socializing and tend to work alone. They will ask questions, scrutinize facts, and explore theories. Despite their initial views on any subject, greens will listen to well-reasoned, rational, and coherent arguments.
- Characteristics: Analytical, detail oriented, visionary
- Motivated by: Praise for their insight, intelligence, expertise, and potential to come up with new ideas
- Communication style: Succinct, with little small talk; inquisitive
- Decision-making style: Want as much information as possible before making a decision
- Oranges. Orange team members add spark to the team. They embrace risk, are quick to make decisions, and are good at troubleshooting and solving crises. Viewing rules and guidelines as restrictions to getting things done, oranges focus on the big picture, not the details. They will maneuver people to their advantage and focus on results.
- Characteristics: Bold, direct, straightforward, easily bored
- Motivated by: Praise for performance and achievement
- Communication style: Action oriented; like to be the center of attention
- Decision-making style: Often make quick decisions using gut instinct
When all four personality styles are aware of their — and their team members’ — characteristics, the team’s ability to interact and function will improve. Blues are uniters; let them set up and manage events. Golds are organized and are good at directing processes. Greens are detailed oriented. Oranges energize the team and drive projects toward completion.
Once your team is aligned, Oranges will realize that Greens are slower to make decisions. Blues and Golds will avoid risks while Greens and Oranges will take risks. Golds will create rules and processes. Blues will follow those rules and processes, Greens will question them, and Oranges will work around them. But each personality will understand the others’ behaviors and thus be able to function better as a team and to resolve conflict more efficiently.