Tag Archives: Personality

5 People Every Team Needs

Team MtgIt’s clear that successful teams have diversity built in.  They have people with different skills and abilities needed to complete the project.   However, each team needs diversity in personalities as well.  Here are five key people every team needs to help them succeed:

  1. Instigator – This is the person who jumps in and gets things going.  Often they are the first person to offer up ideas in a brainstorming session.  They will tackle the hard tasks so that progress is made.
  2. Revolutionary – Here is the person who loves to challenge status quo and will offer up the off-the-wall ideas that can spark true innovation.  They bristle at “that won’t work” comments.
  3. Devil’s Advocate – This is the one who will question every idea and every suggestion, no matter who makes it.  While this can be annoying it helps identify risks and will improve the final solution.
  4. Cook – They are the key to pulling together all of these different approaches and personalities.  Like a great cook they can take all the different thoughts and ideas and mix them together to formulate a workable idea or solution.  As well, they will help calm the chaos and dissension in the ranks.
  5. Chief – The team looks to this person for wisdom, guidance and arbitration.  They are the ones who will resolve the conflict and make sure everyone is moving in the right direction at the right pace.

Team members may take on each of these roles at different times in a project.  On some teams there are one or two people who stay in one role the entire time.  It doesn’t really matter if people shift in their roles as long as things are progressing.

If not managed well, the revolutionary and the devil’s advocate can become problems within the team and derail the project.  They play critical roles in finding new, innovative ways of accomplishing the goal.  Unfortunately, since these personalities question everything and challenge every idea they can become a negative factor and create chaos.  The cook helps bring everyone together but the chief must insist on problem resolution to keep things moving.  If not balanced these two overwhelm the team and cause the instigator to start acting independently just to get something done.  Now the focus has been lost.

Interestingly the project leader may not be the Chief, often they are, however if they have not earned the trust of the team or are weak in some area another person can end up playing this role.  For the team and for the leader this is less than ideal, yet it will naturally happen.  To see who is acting as the chief look at whom people are asking for help and guidance.  The team leader needs to ensure that they are a safe place for people to share concerns and they must be willing to settle the disputes.  Building consensus is critical for team success.

Enjoy and embrace the variety of personalities on the team.  Encourage each member to assume one of these roles at varying times.  Manage the conflict that questioning behavior can trigger to ensure success.  By effectively managing and utilizing the strengths of each character you will help create a team that can achieve amazing results.

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Infectious Attitude

ConcentrationThe attitude you bring with you to work infects those around you.  This can be a great thing or it can be a horrible influence.  How people see you and how they respond to you is directly related to the attitude you present.  So how do you show up?

Here are several attitude types we experience at work:

  • Pollyanna:  Everything is perfect and everything is wonderful.  This gets exhausting if things really aren’t going well.
  • Debbie/Danny Downer:  Nothing will ever go right, everything is a disaster.  This brings down the energy and effectiveness of everyone around them.
  • Helping Hand:  Everyone can use a helping hand.  This person get irritating because they are too quick to jump in to help.
  • Critic:  There is something wrong with every idea/option.  Perfectionism is hard to achieve on a good day and impossible on a typical work day.
  • Lone Wolf:  Wants to be left alone and stays away from everyone.  This is frustrating because they have knowledge that will help others if it can be pulled out of them.
  • Fence Sitter:  Waiting to see which way things will go before committing.  Getting them to step up and decide to act is painful and time consuming.
  • Hopeful Realist:  Recognizes that not everything is perfect or horrible, focused on getting things done.  By focusing on making things better this person is the easiest to work with because they are excited about what comes next.

If you aren’t sure which of these types’ best represents your work attitude, think about how you describe your day.  Do you use negative terms to describe everything?  Do you paint a positive picture even in the darkest days?  The words you use will give you a clue as to how you are looking at your work world.  If the terms “nightmare”, “disaster”, or “failure” are often in your vocabulary then you are being very negative.  Most people will avoid highly negative people.  No one wants to be pulled down into the sad abyss that is typically portrayed.  Things are hard enough, why focus on the really ugly parts all the time.

Likewise people who are falsely positive can be exhausting.  They refuse to look at what is wrong and that can prevent them from addressing issues.  Most places have things that can be improved.  Focusing on the good and addressing what can be better is more realistic.

If you jump in to help others all the time you aren’t letting them grow and learn for themselves.  People want help, but they also need a sense of accomplishment.  Give them a chance to do things on their own and let them ask for help.

If you are a realist, focus on being hopeful.  Some realists focus on all the things that can go wrong so if you focus on the good and look for ways to make the problems better people will be drawn to you.  Finding solutions and ways to make things better is highly valued by companies and people want to be around those who celebrate success and work towards a better and brighter future.

Each of these types will infect the people around them.  Make sure your infection is one of positivity and hope for a brighter tomorrow.  Your team will thank you.

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How do you Get to the Point?

ConfusionWhen you are communicating information to others how quickly do you get to the point? Do you hit them between the eyes with the bottom line or do you spend 5 minutes laying the groundwork for the decision?  Maybe you fall somewhere in between.  All are valid options and needed in different situations.  The next question is how does your audience respond?  Do they shy away from the blunt data or do their eyes glaze over at the details?  To get your point across you need to tailor your delivery to the audience’s style not yours.

To understand which style to use with your audience you need to have an understanding of their preference and their needs.  What do they need to get from the information and how do they like information presented to them.

Being direct is great when:

  • You have 30 seconds to update your boss before his meeting
  • The person you are sending information to likes bullet point highlights
  • It’s the team’s weekly update meeting where everyone reports status
  • People’s safety is a concern and time is of essence

Being more detailed is great when:

  • People need to understand the reason for a change
  • The person you are sending information to needs the backup as support
  • You are asked how you reached the decision
  • Getting buy-in to a decision is critical for success

When you are going to share information, in response to a question or as part of a routine report, take a minute to consider the needs and style of your audience.  They may want bullet point highlights with the details attached for future reference.  They may need to have all the details so they can answer questions from others.  It varies each time you communicate with someone.

Keep in mind that if you always default to your preferred style people may be missing your point.  If you love to give details, but the person you are talking to needs the three main points you’ve lost them before they get the points.  If you tell some on the top three points but don’t give them the details they need, they could see you as rude or uncooperative.  Either way your credibility and opinions of your ability to communicate has been damaged.

The point of communicating is to share information.  So it’s up to you to adapt to the situation to ensure your message is received.  Pay attention to people’s reaction to how you provide information, this will give insight into how well you are making your point.  At times you must be direct and other times you must be detailed.

photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Quote for Oct 30th

There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.
Malcolm X

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A Thought for Thursday

A question to ask ourselves…

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling.  It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl.

Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots.  She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile.  Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May we all be COFFEE!!

This was sent to me by a friend and I had to share it with all of you.  It’s a great story to remind us that we can choose our response to the things that happen in our lives.  So choose wisely!

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Win Over the Experts

One of my recent consulting assignments  isto standardize some of the documentation throughout the client’s organization.  This means working with people in the US, Europe and Australia.  While many of the people I’ve been dealing with are excited about the project there are a few who are a bit resistant to the change.  These folks created much of what is in existence today and are truly the experts in their fields.  Unfortunately the organization’s needs have outgrown the capabilities of the current format; now there is a global reach needed that can’t be supported.

To be successful I have to get these experts on my side.  Their senior manager has told them it will happen and he wants it done this new way, but that is getting compliance not commitment.  They are working with me because they have to, but they are not very engaged.  It’s up to me to change that!

Here’s how I’m going about getting them on board with the new program:

  1. Use their information.  I’m using what they created in the past to build the new versions.  This shows that their work is respected and is the building block of the future.
  2. Never be negative.  It is so important to avoid criticizing what’s been done in the past.  Focus on what is right about it and how it can help move everyone into the future.
  3. Get their feedback.  To give them a chance to comment I’m meeting with them about once a week.  This gives them time to review what’s been updated and then they have me as a captive audience for feedback.
  4. Sell, sell, and sell some more.  Part of what I’m doing is to show them what’s been done in other areas already and let them see the benefits of the new materials.  Also, I keep reminding them of why this is being done.
  5. Appeal to their loyalty.  These folks love the products they work on and the company they work for, so I am showing them how the updates will be strengthening the branding of the company.  The professional and uniform appearance of the documentation will be seen world-wide, sometimes by customer personnel, and will increase the image of the products.  They like knowing this helps improve people’s opinion of the company and products.
  6. Play to their knowledge.  The biggest factor to my success is the fact that we are using their information to educate everyone world-wide on the applicable products.  Now they will be impacting people around the world without leaving home, their knowledge will have an even greater reach.

So far it’s going pretty well.  Still working on building the relationships and looking forward to what will come in the future.  I remind myself each day to be positive about their contributions so that I can stay focused on what can be instead of the roadblocks that are really just speed bumps in the road.

What things have you done to get an expert on board with a new idea that wasn’t theirs?

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Quote for 6/12/12

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.
Marianne Williamson

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Getting People off the Fence

On every team you have a range of personalities, which is a great thing for finding the best solutions to the problems encountered.  Each of these personalities has pros and cons to them.  Today I am going to take a look at the fence sitters.  These folks are the ones who wait and wait and wait to commit to a course of action.  They are hard to move into action.  However, not all of their impact is negative.  Let’s take a closer look.

Pros:

  1. Need fully developed plans.  The fence sitter wants to know which decision will be the winner.  To get them to move the path forward must be clear and well paved.  This means that the team must fully think through their decisions and manage the associated risks. 
  2. Typically neutral on ideas.  This team member is the one who is looking for both the good and the bad of every situation.  Often they have no bias towards negativity or overly positive positions.  They can provide balance during the evaluation phase.
  3. Good listeners.  Here is the person who wants to hear what everyone thinks before they will speak up.  Their desire to know what the right decision is means they are looking for information so they can be great researchers and sounding boards.

Cons:

  1. Too slow to act.  Waiting until everything is well known and all risks are controlled can mean that action comes too late if required to get them on board.  There are times when action must happen quickly.
  2. Unwilling to speak up.  By weighing all the options before deciding it can be hard for the fence sitter to speak up and voice their opinion.  This can mean that valid concerns go unheard.
  3. Can dampen enthusiasm.  Their reluctance to move forward can dampen the enthusiasm of others who are excited about the possibilities even in the face of all the unknowns.

The best way to take advantage of the pros and minimize the cons is to get the fence sitter to ask questions of the team, find out what they need to know to commit and place deadlines on getting to the next step.  These things will get them involved, help manage their concerns, encourages them to share their ideas to minimize risk and yet keeps a sense of urgency in front of the team and holds them accountable for a decision.

You may need to draw a line and tell the team it’s decision time so speak now or forever hold your piece.  It can be tough love at times, however getting the fence sitters involved and engaged can lead to better decisions.

Please share what you have done to get people off the fence.

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Handling Know-it-All’s

How many times have you run into a person who has all the answers?  They can tell you how to do and why their way is the only way to go.  These people can be real challenges when they are required to work in a team environment. 

First they kill the innovation of the people around them.  When they are always sharing what they think and how they would do things others have no reason to speak up.  This limits the number of new ideas that are generated so the team becomes less productive.

Secondly they can kill the morale of the team.  Being part of a team where being part of a team where your ideas are not welcomed causes people to disengage from the organization.  The know-it-all saps all the joy of being a valued team member from those around them which can lead to more clock watching and less innovation.

Lastly, by being vocal about their superior ideas and product they eventually generate enough annoyance that people in the organization see them as a negative factor.  They can become the person others avoid whenever possible.  As this negative impression grows it hurts the reputation of that individual and the team as a whole. 

So what can you do with a person like this?

  1. During team meetings thank them for their contribution and then solicit input and ideas from the rest of the team.  Show that you value their ideas and you value the ideas of those around them.
  2. Respecting the input of the other team members will help keep morale from being dragged down by the know-it-all.  When possible have others be in a lead role on a project so that everyone knows that as a manager you value everyone on the team.
  3. Counsel the know-it-all in a private setting to encourage new behaviors.  Make sure that the counseling is objective and focuses on professional improvement instead of telling them they are wrong.  Telling them what is wrong with their behavior will make them defensive and closed to improvement.  Done properly getting them to focus on how they can be better can help them change.
  4. The next step may be to move them into a role that requires less team involvement and gives them more professional independence.  It will be important to make sure they have regular contact with their manager to ensure behaviors are appropriate for their position.
  5. If they continue to be a drag on the organization, the last available option is termination.  There are times when no other option will work for the overall good of the organization.

So if you are dealing with a know-it-all on your team, reining them in is critical for the effectiveness of the team and organization.  This is a situation that is challenging to any manager, yet when managed well the reputation of the manager and team improves.  Help the person grow professionally as long as the organization does not suffer.

Photo from iStockPhoto.com

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Leadership Articles

Today I want to share some of the interesting articles I have been reading on leadership topics.  Enjoy!

  • 10 Strategies for Building Confidence in Others at http://leadershipfreak.wordpress.com/.  This is a great summary of things a leader can do to build their team member’s confidence.  I’m going to put Joel Garfinkle’s book “Getting Ahead” on my reading list.

What articles have you read recently that have contributed to your leadership learning?

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