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3 Smart Ways to Use Personality Testing in Team Building

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Team-based Personality Assessments

The application of personality questionnaires in team building has a long and rich history, pioneered predominantly by Meredith Belbin in the 1960-1980s. Belbin introduced the Belbin Team Role Inventory which formalised the use of personality questionnaires when building teams, providing a valuable launchpad for further study.

Team discussion

Team-based personality assessments focus on two main objectives:

  1. Minimise intra-team conflict and ensure the smooth working of individuals
  2. Maximise team performance by placing people into teams appropriately.

By identifying each team member’s individual team role, managers are able to assign individuals with complimentary interpersonal styles, helping to minimise conflict and maximise productivity.

Belbin posited that nine key team role architypes exist, each expressing a unique interpersonal style when working within a team, which include:

  1. Plant: Creative and unorthodox thinkers who find innovative solutions to complex problems.
  2. Resource investigator: Enthusiastic networkers that focus on the external world.
  3. Co-ordinator: Big-picture thinkers who are likely to take a leading role in managing the team.
  4. Shaper: Industrious and task-focused individuals who strive for success.
  5. Monitor Evaluator: Logical and objective observers who solve problems analytically.
  6. Teamworker: Cooperative and diplomatic listeners who help manage conflicts.
  7. Implementer: Disciplined and loyal individuals who can always be relied upon.
  8. Completer finisher: Perfectionists with a strong eye for detail.
  9. Specialist: Experts in particular fields who provide uniquely valuable insight.

Type vs. Traits

However, unlike TYPE-based personality questionnaires such as the MBTI, the Team Roles Inventory is a TRAIT-based assessment, and thus does not hold these roles to be mutual exclusive personality types. For example, individuals could score highly on several of the roles, such as Plant AND Specialist, and thus display a more nuanced approach to their teamworking. This is because the Team Roles Inventory assessment measures underlying behavioral characteristics which exist on a continuum, much like the Big Five model of personality.

As a result, any valid and reliable personality questionnaire is capable of measuring those key underlying behaviors which determine a person’s team role.

In this article I will outline three highly effective approaches to implementing personality questionnaires in team building. These approaches can be followed using almost any psychometrically robust personality assessment, not just those explicitly designed for team building purposes.

Team building for skill development

Approach 1: Seek a Range of Conflict Resolution Styles

Research clearly suggests that a person’s conflict resolution strategy is closely aligned to their personality. For example, here is list of very personality traits and the corresponding conflict resolution styles that those traits will prefer.

  1. Agreeableness: Agreeable people tend to prefer either finding creative solutions to conflicts that appeal to everyone, or to avoid conflict all together. They also show a lower preference for dominating, and will not try to overpower others during conflict.
  2. Conscientiousness: Conscientious people tend to also prefer finding mutually beneficial solutions, but show a preference against avoidance, preferring to tackle conflict directly.
  3. Extraversion: Extraverts prefer a dominant approach to conflict, seeking to exert their influence and resolve conflict through sheer will. They are the least likely to follow an avoidant strategy, rarely shying away from conflict.
  4. Openness to experience: Those who are open to experience are the most likely to follow an integrated approach to conflict resolution, finding particularly innovative solutions to problems. They are also less likely to show an avoidant strategy, seeing conflict as a puzzle to solve instead.
  5. Neuroticism: Those who are particularly neurotic will focus mostly on avoidant strategies, shying away from conflict whenever possible. They are very unlikely to display a dominant strategy, finding that form of conflict resolution stressful.

Rock-Paper-Scissors

Much like rock-paper-scissors, each conflict style can be beaten by another, helping to quickly resolve conflict.

For example, a dominating strategy quickly overpowers an avoidant strategy, resolving conflict fast. An avoidant strategy combined with an integrated strategy also quickly resolves conflict, as a consensus is reached quickly. However, a whole team of dominators is likely to result in a long, protracted conflict, as team members will simply try to overpower each other in perpetuity. Similarly, a whole team of avoidants will simply ruminate on their grievances, creating an underlying culture of resentment and bitterness.

Clearly, building a team with a wide range of conflict management styles is the best approach, ensuring that different strategies can be applied when the need arises, and preventing a conflict deadlock which occurs when every team member adopts the same conflict resolution style.

By measuring the personality traits of constituent team members, you can ensure that teams aren’t overrepresented by any specific personality trait, maximising the probability of the team utilizing a wider range of conflict management strategies.

Quick team building activity

Approach 2: Match Team roles to the Organizational Culture

Organizational culture is a powerful thing, and misfit to that culture can feel extremely uncomfortable for new hires. Research suggests that organizational culture misfit is a leading cause of employee attrition, resulting in tremendous costs for organizations worldwide.

The Four Architypes

Although organizational cultures are complex, they can broadly be classified into one of four architypes:

  • Clan: Clan-based cultures are close-knit and family-like, emphasising shared values and organizational citizenship.
  • Hierarchy: Hierarchy-based cultures focus on authority, productivity, processes, and systems, following a top-down approach.
  • Adhocracy: Adhocracies are flexible and responsive, emphasising creativity and personal freedom.
  • Market: Market-orientated cultures are externally focused, with greater emphasis on clients and stakeholders than internal staff.

Similarly, team roles can be classified into one of two thinking styles, namely Adaptive or Innovative. Research suggests that Adaptive thinkers, who are focused on reliability, efficiency, and discipline, are likely to prefer Clan or Hierarchy based cultures, and will show greater levels of person-team fit. In the same way, those with an Innovative thinking style, who are focused on creativity and unorthodox approaches to problem solving, tend to prefer Adhocracies or Market focused cultures.

By prioritising broad thinking styles during the hiring process, you ensure that the composition of teams moving forward is well suited to the organization itself. This approach is much safer than hiring based on team role explicitly, as a wide range of roles is desirable for optimal team composition.

For example, in organizations which are Hierarchical or Clan focused, looking for employees who are conscientious are likely to emphasise culture-fit, and thus subsequent team-fit. However, in organizations which are Adhocracy or Market focused, looking for employees who are open to new experiences will likely ensure that they will follow the company ethos of flexibility and creativity.

Team building for fostering cooperation and bonding

Approach 3: Avoid Organizational Cloning and Protect Behavioral Diversity

One of the more common criticisms of commercial personality questionnaires is the threat of organizational cloning, i.e., building an organization of nearly identical personalities. Naturally, this would stifle innovation, and as we have previously mentioned, exasperate conflict within teams. In fact, research does suggest that teams with a wider range of team roles tend to outperform less behaviorally diverse teams.

To avoid organizational cloning and ensure proper behavioral diversity, a wide range of distinct personality types must be onboarded into the organization, and by extension, into teams. This is achieved by using personality questionnaires throughout the employee life-cycle, from initial hire to ongoing development. Having these data allow HR teams to ensure that a wide range of team roles are represented organization-wide, rather than a just narrow subset.

Outside of cognitive ability testing, when using personality questionnaires as part of hiring processes, careful consideration should be given to the specific traits which will comprise a final score.

For example, if you decide that employees being ‘agreeable’ isn’t that relevant to in-role performance or culture-fit, then it should not form the basis of any selection decision. What this does is that any subsequent team will necessarily include people who score high, low, and everything in between on agreeableness – thus supporting behavioral diversity. However, if agreeableness is deemed essential to performance and role-fit, then organizations must decide whether the trade-off is worth it, and whether or not the loss of behavioral diversity outweighs the benefits to candidate quality or role-fit.

Team building day

Summary

To maximise the effectiveness of a personality-based team building intervention, you need to be both general and specific. Although you want a wide range of different team roles and / or personality types on your team, you also want them all to have something in common, and that should ideally be overall culture-fit. But other than culture-fit, when hiring and creating teams, variety truly is the spice of life, and the greater the behavioral diversity, the greater the performance and the lower the incidence of harmful conflict.

In conclusion, organizations should embrace the differences between individuals, and aspire to create teams of unique individuals, rather than mere carbon copies of one-another.

Entrepreneurship

Eight Types of Company Missions These Entrepreneurs Think Are Vastly Overrated

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What’s one example of a common company mission that you think is overrated, and why? What should replace it?

Company mission

These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year, and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.

1. Statements That Mention Being the ‘Best’

The missions that correspond to being the “best” are generic and overrated. Being the best there is at what you do is the pinnacle of success. If you get there, what’s next? Businesses don’t grow when they pursue excellence. They grow by making mistakes, learning from experiences and doing better next time. So, seeking continuous improvement can be a good replacement.

Jared Atchison, WPForms

2. Missions That Aren’t Measurable

Generally speaking, any mission statement that isn’t measurable can cause problems for your business. If you can’t track your progress, your statement is nothing more than words on paper (or a screen). People are more willing to get behind mission statements that focus on tangible long-term goals or aspirations.

John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

3. Statements That Could Apply to Any Company

Many mission statements contain generic terms that could apply to almost anyone. A common example is “We provide the highest quality service,” which is an admirable goal but doesn’t really tell you anything about what they stand for or how they deliver it. Terms such as “integrity,” “excellence” and “industry leaders” are similar. It’s better to pinpoint something more specific that you deliver.

Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

4. Phrases About Pursuing Excellence

“We pursue excellence” is generic and overrated — not to mention, the definition of achieving excellence may vary from one person to another. What will be the metric for achieving excellence? No one knows, as not everyone in your company is on the same page. So, replacing this mission with measurable indicators like sign-ups, conversions and other growth metrics would be a good idea.

Stephanie Wells, Formidable Forms

Developing mission statement

5. Missions That Mention ‘Social Impact’

Many companies use the phrase “social impact” in their mission statement, but the impact is rarely evident. For example, a clothing store may mention that it is committed to helping women in poverty, but it will still charge the same amount for its T-shirts. Instead of writing a mission statement, a company should inform customers about how they are helping the world.

Vikas Agrawal, Infobrandz

6. Missions That Call for Perfection

Nothing is perfect! I’d rather see a mission that pushes others to embrace imperfection and to strive harder to be better every day, knowing that there is such a thing as a bad day. The best thing we can do is to stop aiming for perfection and just be better than yesterday.

Daisy Jing, Banish

7. Statements That Don’t Mention Your Industry or Purpose

I think mission statements that don’t directly mention your industry or what your business does can do more harm than good. Failure to mention these details makes your message seem more like a fluff piece than an actual long-term goal for your brand. Instead, brand leaders should focus specifically on how their company will help the industry evolve.

John Turner, SeedProd LLC

8. Missions That Lack Connection

Companies should be able to use their mission statement to connect with their target audience. However, I have seen a lot of companies create mission statements that are too broad and generic. For example, “Helping businesses grow” is far too generic and does not connect with anyone. However, if it was “Helping small businesses grow with our marketing services,” it would connect better.

Sujay Pawar, Astra

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Entrepreneurship

Want to Start a Business? Read This First for a Reality Check!

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Are you going to start a business and looking for some ideas and tips? Well, you are reading the right blog post, as I will tell you what you might not want to hear, but at the same time, I will give you some reasons why you want to start a business you love – with the right mindset.

Thinking entrepreneur

I’ve heard some cynical comments about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship; one comment says that entrepreneurs are, well, becoming one because they simply can’t get a real job. Another one says that entrepreneurs are a group of people who use their parents and/or everyone else’s money to start a business and have fun with it without thinking of returning any of it.

Some say that entrepreneurship is easy – just get a product people want and sell it for a profit. Right. Some say that entrepreneurship is overrated – you won’t make more than a decent paid job. Right.

It’s sad, really… those naysayer just don’t realise that entrepreneurs and small business are two of the most prominent factors that make the economy moving. Just ask the mentors and experts about what a community could do if small business is not supported by the Government: Crippled. Then the butterfly effect kicks in, and eventually the whole economy of a nation is brought down just because investors, entrepreneurs and business owners are not well-supported.

Yet successful entrepreneurs thrive despite all the unfavourable policies, the naysayer’s boos and jeers, and the non-supportive friends and family, who laugh at their ideas of starting a business out of their garage.

If you are considering entrepreneurship, are you ready for such pressure? You will somehow face people who question your decision jumping into the entrepreneurship bandwagon. The worse part is, those who doubt you often your closest ones – your spouse, your parents, your friends…

Are you ready?

Startups are not for the faint-hearted

We can’t deny the fact that many startups are bound to fail. Well, did you know why many startups fail? There are thousands of reasons, but one of the reasons that I think as the main cause of startup failures is false hopes.

If you are thinking of running a business as traveling all over the world at will, riding a limo sipping champagne, or doing whatever you like in your pajamas or swimming suit – I apologise, but I need to pop your balloon.

Stop dreaming. Start looking into the reality. Entrepreneurship is not easy and if you don’t have what it takes to get a business launched and navigate your vessel through the storm, you’d better get a job.

Entrepreneurship requires to be able to juggle and decide on many things: Balancing your work-life; deciding from many strategic options; choosing between a list of suppliers; and so on. Initially, you need to be able to wear many “hats” – bookkeeping/administrative, marketing, development, production, procurement, and so on.

You need to be open-minded and be prepared for open-ended outcome of your decisions; you need to be ready for any circumstances requiring you to re-focus and re-strategise in the middle of your plan.

And those perks you are having while working for a boss, you don’t have them when you are an entrepreneur: Paid leave, managed retirement planning, and so on. You are literally on your own, supporting yourself with your own resources.

Whether you are a solopreneur or the owner of multi-business ventures employing thousands of staffs while running yours while having fun doing so (like what Sir Branson is doing,) “hard work,” “perseverance” and “delayed gratification” are three of the main “keywords” defining all what entrepreneurs are doing.

Indeed, entrepreneurs are hard worker and passionate about their business. What keep them going is their passion for what they do and their love for everything entrepreneurship, starting up and business ownership.

Entrepreneur dealing with self-doubt
photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

If startup is so difficult, why people are doing it?

Yes, this question is asked by many who are interested in entrepreneurship. This question might be your question.

It’s a fair question: With all the hurdles you need to take on if you are plunging yourself into entrepreneurship, why bother starting up?

There are many answers, but if you asked me, my answer would be this: I love this game.

I love the search of business ideas. I love the many sleepless nights working on my business to see it grows steadily. I love the possibility for me to create something useful for the community – while giving me the lifestyle and financial independent I want for my family. I love the ups and downs of running a business – sure, failing sucks, but I can learn a great deal from it personally and professionally.

I wouldn’t trade what I am doing right now (work at home, surrounded by the people I love) with any high-paying jobs requiring me to work 12 hours a day or more; I love the freedom money can’t buy. I love a business that is built around my lifestyle, not the other way around.

Of course, I don’t love ALL aspects of my business: I don’t fancy the back office operations – bookkeeping, administrative and so on – but you can always hire someone competent to do those for you 🙂

Takeaway

Indeed, entrepreneurship is one of the most risky careers of all. Well, if you want safety and security, just get a job. But if you love the unknowns and embrace risks, entrepreneurship is a path worth walking; it’s rewarding in every sense – financially and emotionally.

So, now you know some facts about entrepreneurship. I do hope you can start a business with the right mindset; I also hope you start your journey with humility; being passionate without arrogance; taking calculated risks, not gambling; eagerness to help others when you have finally reached the top; acknowledging the fact that without God and those people around you – friends, family, fellow entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, etc. – you won’t go far.

Dream big. Start small. Just do it, seriously!

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Entrepreneurship

Measuring the Health of Your Personal Finances

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Measuring the health of your personal finances can be as simple as evaluating four simple parts about your personal finances including the way that your money is spent and the methods that you are employing to prepare yourself for the future. Use these aspects to take an evaluation of your personal finance situations and begin to learn the techniques required to up the health of your personal finances.

Borrow money

How Much do you Owe?

It is important to determine how much money that you owe in debts. The importance of the total number is sometimes surpassed by the interest rates and terms at which the debt has been accumulated. Are you facing a cycle of debt living paycheck to paycheck and using additional sources of credit to repay outstanding debts? It is important to take a plan to get out of the cycle of debt; if you have found yourself becoming overwhelmed.

Establishing a solid repayment plan that includes fifteen percent of the income, every single month to the debts in the order of most expensive to least expensive is techniques that all debtors should take into account.

Are You Living Paycheck to Paycheck?

Are you unable to find room within the budget to establish a savings account and find all of your money being spent before it reaches your pocketbook? If so, than you are more than likely one of the thousands of consumers that are living paycheck to paycheck – and this is an unhealthy indicator of your finances.

Attack your debt with a solid plan and find ways to increase your income to establish a savings account to increase the health of your finances. Use strict budgeting skills for at least one month to establish a little wiggle room in the personal financial situation and get out of the trap of living paycheck to paycheck.

Impulsive shopping is bad spending habit

Are You Spending More than You Earn?

Living outside or above your means can often be an indicator that sometime in the future the finances will be in jeopardy. When a consumer spends more than they make, this money must come from somewhere. Many people use credit to cover the shortfalls in income, which can lead to drastic mistakes being made in the finances and debt being accumulated faster than the consumer realizes. One day, many consumers wake up and realize that they are shocked to living within their means as they have run out of credit.

Go over your finances and create a budget that allows you to spend less than you earn to increase your financial health.

Have you Established a Savings Account?

An emergency fund or savings account is an essential part of the health of your finances as it in part determines the security of your future.

A savings account should be established with at least ten percent of the income every single month, which should be deposited into a high interest savings account. This money can provide an alternative to credit card use and earn money rather than charging the consumer money through the use of expensive credit cards.

Experts recommend that individuals and families have three to six months of expenses saved within the emergency fund to become truly financially healthy. Does this inspire to you start saving?

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