Teamwork is crucial to most workplaces. As the saying goes, "A chain is only as strong as its weakest link," so it's important that each individual on a team understands his purpose, function and responsibilities in order for everyone else to do their work effectively.
In her book "Personality Style at Work," Kate Ward shares the four most common team styles that individuals adopt when part of a group. Understanding how you function as part of a team can help improve your experience and help the team remain productive and positive.
A direct team member is typically the person who rallies everyone together and gives structure to the task or objective. This person is decisive, likes action and achieving milestones and is willing to push others and help where needed. The direct team member may engage in conflict, but it's for the greater good. Independence is crucial. She'll listen to all ideas presented but will decide what's best for the goal. However, this person can also be impatient and insensitive when giving feedback and often plays devil's advocate.
Potential roles: Manager, project manager, director, producer
You know the teammate who is full of energy and bouncing off the walls with enthusiasm? That's the team member with a spirited working style. As the cheerleader, this person motivates, excites and inspires others to keep the energy positive. Don't be surprised to hear off-the-wall ideas coming from the spirited team member. He refuses to let the group hit a wall and will always present a solution. However, this person may have trouble sticking to the plan, struggles with deadlines and can be easily distracted.
Potential roles: Account coordinator, marketing specialist, social-media specialist, designer
Someone has to be the glue that holds the team together, despite the inevitable ups and downs. The considerate team member maintains harmony among the others and is usually the best listener in the group. This person is also the most thoughtful and caring when dealing with others. Considerate team members also have the most flexibility when it comes to achieving the objective and are willing to set aside their own agendas for the group. However, this person may be reluctant to express his own feelings and may at times be too passive.
Potential roles: Counselor, human resource generalist, nurse, office manager
Systematic team members get things done. However, these members like clearly defined and assigned tasks and are deadline driven. Consider this person the opposite of the spirited group member. Instead of creativity and innovation, this style is more aligned to precision, accuracy and objectivity. The group can rely on this person to provide a fair and honest opinion. However, this person values data over relationships and may get hung up on her own rigidity and perfectionism.
Potential roles: IT, financial services, data analyst, engineer
Ward warns that teams that work together should be careful to avoid groupthink. "When you seek consensus, make certain that you haven't inadvertently engaged in groupthink instead," Ward says. "Groupthink occurs when the pressure to conform outweighs a team's decision-making process."
Typically, groupthink happens when team members are under pressure to achieve a task or meet a deadline, which means they also limit themselves to viable alternatives and rationalize faulty information in order to finish a project.
The next time you find yourself in a group setting, identify your personality style and how you can contribute to the group. If all members of your team share the same style, you can still step up as a leader and help accomplish the task in a timely manner.
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