October 9, 2015
Personality: What You Need To Know To Build An Effective Team

Team building. Every leader deals with it, and it’s never easy. But what if there was a scientifically proven set of indicators that could give leaders insight and make team building easier?
Well, those indicators do exist—they’re called the Big Five.

What are the Big Five?

The Big Five are a set of personality traits that provide a general framework for understanding and navigating an individual’s personality. The traits—extraversion, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism—give leaders insight into how different people on their teams interact with one another, contribute to team goals, make decisions, manage time, and handle stress.

Why do the Big Five characteristics matter in team building?

When you understand how your team members’ personalities affect your team dynamic, you can make better-informed leadership decisions, build stronger and more productive teams, and create a work environment that is ideal for success. Here are three ways to apply these traits in your team building strategy:

1. Learn the personalities of your team.

Hold a professional development session where you share resources about the Big Five. Discuss how the different personality traits affect the workplace. Run exercises that will introduce your team members to common issues between different personalities and how to address them.

Once your team members are up to speed, either ask them to score themselves for each personality trait (e.g., on a one to five scale) or ask them to take a more standardized Big Five personality test and share their results with you. The results will help you determine who should work together, the roles your employees will thrive in, and how to maximize your team’s productivity.

2. Make personality a priority.

Personality has become more important than ever for organizations looking to hire the right employees. In fact, in an April 2014 survey of more than 500 CEOs, hiring managers, and other decision makers, Hyper Island found that 78 percent of respondents consider personality the most important metric for hiring.

Do you have one or more great employees that you hope new hires will start to emulate? Encourage these star employees to play an active role in guiding your new hires by serving as a mentor.

Consider the personality traits that are most valued by your organization and those that make employees more likely to succeed; then hire candidates who reflect those traits and company values. Once you understand the kind of personalities that succeed, finding candidates with those personality traits and nurturing them from Day One should be your No. 1 priority.

3. Mix your personalities up.

If everyone on your team is open to new ideas and highly agreeable, your team may never get anything done. Consider some team members who are less agreeable or more closed-minded to help rein in the team and keep everyone focused.

If your team is full of extraverts who thrive when they interact with co-workers and may slow down productivity, think about swapping in a few Introverts who tend to stay focused more easily. This will create balance and help the team avoid things like office gossip, one of the top productivity killers according to CareerBuilder’s June 2014 survey.

Your goal should always be to create a mix of complementary personality types that, in the long run, will work together in harmony.

How you put together a team can greatly affect its efficiency, productivity, and lifespan. Take the time to consider the personalities you already have, the personalities you need, and how to best utilize the different personality types on your team, in order to build the most effective team possible.

Has personality played a role in your team building strategy? How do you use the different personalities on your team?

Molly Owens
Molly Owens is the CEO of Truity, a California-based provider of online personality and career assessments and developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment. Learn more about personality type and career achievement and connect with Molly and Truity on Twitter and Facebook.

Other Articles by Molly Owens:

Personality Type And Employee Happiness: 3 Things You Need To Know

4 Personality Traits That All Effective Leaders Share

4 Personality Traits That Make You An Effective Leader