Personalities in the Workplace: The Toughest Nut to Crack
Colleagues in the workplace will always have their differences – but ultimately, the best teams are made up of DIVERSE personalities!
Recently, I led a team building event consisting of two half day sessions for the intensive care unit (‘ICU’) of a major hospital. It was a diverse group of roughly 200, representing 21 different professions, and it was the first time they had ever been brought together for a team building event. Like many organizations, they were seeking to boost morale and develop tools they could apply in the work setting to promote teamwork and collaboration.
One of the exercises I used that day delved into Personality Styles. As part of this exercise I divided the room into 4 quadrants according to the DiSC model of Personality Styles:
- Directors: direct and task-oriented
- Influencers: direct and people-oriented
- Supporters: indirect and people-oriented
- Critical Thinkers: indirect and task-oriented
I described each personality style in detail and asked members of the group to go to the quadrant that best described their own personality style. After everyone moved to their quadrant, I went into more depth about the characteristics of each style. I watched with fascination as the groups began their own process of identification by voting out of the group, in a fun way, those of their colleagues who they felt might not have identified their correct personality style – I love it when this happens! It brings even more awareness to the diversity of teams.
Evidently, how we see ourselves is often not how others see us!
Another initiative I had the group undertake was the “Numbers Game”, which is an exercise designed to illustrate the power of effective communication. When I gave instructions on how the exercise worked, one of the attendees pushed back and asked “Why exactly am I circling these numbers?” It seemed this person was simply not prepared to follow my ‘say so’ and comply unless they were first told specifically why they were doing it. In the countless times I had done this exercise… this was a first!
But, being an ‘Influencer’ myself (see above) I welcome interaction and thought “Bring it On!” Her bit of defiance looped me right back to personality styles, and I took a moment to bring her onside by explaining that the exercise helps demonstrate the power of teamwork and effective communication; and, that she should trust me on its merits. Ultimately, she did take part and did agree it was worth the effort! (Can you guess which personality style this person is?1).
As this example suggests, we need to be prepared to flex our style according to those around us:
- Be direct and stick to the facts with Directors.
- Be fast-paced and interactive with Influencers.
- Be patient and understanding with Supporters.
- Be thorough and precise with Critical Thinkers.
Each of the four personality styles has strengths and limitations. Each of us are a unique blend of these styles but we typically have one or two styles that tend to dominate.
Creating greater awareness of ourselves and of those within our team promotes enhanced co-operation and communication, because it enables us to better understand WHY the people in our lives behave the way they do.
Diversity is a strength and we truly are better together.
1 I believe she was a Critical Thinker because she was detail-oriented, focused on the task, and needed to know the purpose with the supporting facts.
More posts? Bring it on!