You may have found yourself from time to time saying something like, “If it wasn’t for all those people from that other group, we could get something done around here!” Having multiple personalities on a team means that people differ from your point of view, perspective, and approach to solving a problem. That is why sometimes they are, well, a pain in the ass. It is also why they are so valuable to have around (if you can manage the team dynamics).

Having a number of homogenous members of a team may be a great way to eliminate waste or make things more efficient. However, this assumes you are trying to reinforce the status quo. If you are trying to grow your business, beat your competitors, or recruit the best talent, status quo is an ever shrinking piece of the ice flow. It is only a matter of time before you start waving your arms wildly and asking for help.

Many of the problems we have in strategy, prediction, and retention come from trying to avoid the conflict that comes with multiple personalities on teams. It leads to underrepresented diverse populations (race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic background, etc.). It also leads to outdated thinking that is reinforced by collections of people with the same strengths and many of the same weaknesses.

Great teams are diverse in their makeup. They have the ability to engage in positive resolution of conflict. It is their differences that make them powerful, but that is only the case when they can all focus on their strengths in a safe environment.

Here are some steps to consider when building a multiple personality team:

  1. Pick the end result based on what you are trying to accomplish for the CLIENT/CUSTOMER
  2. Walk backwards into picking team members to accomplish that goal
  3. Conduct a team diagnostic assessment to review individual strengths as well as the team as a system
  4. Build the action plan and ownership of key deliverables
  5. Use a coach to manage goal alignment, role clarity, and conflict resolution

Great teams are messy because of their multiple personalities. It is exactly why they can be a competitive advantage if you can coach them properly.

…if you’ve ever tried to disguise an elephant as a rabbit, you know that it almost never ends well. So, why would you attempt to do that same thing on your project team by forcing your most analytical member to handle all of the creative brainstorming, or that notorious procrastinator to keep a close eye on the project schedule? You should instead develop an approach and a plan that plays to each of your team member’s individual strengths.

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