A Good Fit on a Good Team

Excerpt from Chapter 6 of “Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work” by Lee Caraher (Bibliomotion, 2014).

Fit matters.
—Lee Caraher

Millennials have watched their parents negotiate their own work lives, and they know already that they don’t want to work with people they don’t respect or want to spend time with. “The team around me matters a lot,” says Jennifer, age 29. “People want to work around people they like, who make them better, who work well together. We want to have good relationships with all of the people we work with.”

Sorting out fit starts with knowing what your company’s values are and what your culture really is. It’s also important to show people how they can fit in now and in the future.

Values need to be declared, socialized, and reinforced. And they need to be explained: How would someone work within the values of your office regarding the way they collaborate with colleagues, hold a standard of work, communicate with customers, and service clients? If your team doesn’t have clear values, this is the time to co-create them, so you can improve the way people work together and better determine who fits into your company as you grow and change.

Define Company Values
The most important piece of declaring company values is including everyone in the process. Co-creating company values with your teams ensures that people really understand what those values mean and how team members bring them to life and are invested in them (or not).

Besides co-creation, common tenets in the methods I have used are:

  • Include everyone in the discovery process.
  • Identify and synthesize four to six commonly held beliefs.
  • Use memorable phrases to describe your values. “Excellence” is trite if you can’t describe what it means specifically to your organization.
  • Define how you will know if the company and the people are living and working within the values.
  • Define how you will socialize and reinforce the values so they are constantly communicated and part of the social fabric of the team.

Personality Matters
Remember that one person’s star is another’s misfit. For example, someone who likes to work alone and then report in won’t fit well in a team that works collaboratively in person and crowdsources its ideas and decisions from the group.

Think about who is on your team and who else you might need to round it out. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, abilities and opportunities, and natural tendencies. Understanding the different personalities or profiles on the team not only helps people work together better, it also helps determine strengths the team lacks. Filling these gaps on the team when you make new hires improves efficiency and productivity.

Consider adopting a personality indicator system that helps everyone understand themselves and one another better. Once understood, these can help you make adjustments to maximize everyone’s contributions.

A couple of years ago, everyone at my company completed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Strength Finders assessment, and assembled and shared our team pro- files based on the results of these tests. It was enlightening in so many ways.

Most startling, we discovered that fully half of the staff are introverts, people who work better by absorbing information,
mulling it over, and then responding. This is in stark contrast to extroverts, who often work well in the moment.

It’s unusual in a public relations and marketing firm to have more than 20 or 30 percent of the company test as introverts, and we have fully 50 percent of the people testing not just as introverts, but as strong introverts. And 12 percent of our people throughout the organization are INFJs, which make up only 1 to 3 percent of the general population.

With this information in hand, we looked at some of our processes and figured out quickly that some of the things we were doing, including the way we were approaching brain- storming, were best suited for extroverts. Wake-up call! I set up the company to work for me, a strong E NFP— no wonder some people felt like they weren’t contributing as much as they could.

We also have several ESTJs, strong personalities that can be perceived as insensitive unless they are understood on teams with their opposite types, INFPs and ISFPs. While everyone liked and respected one another, the two groups were having a hard time understanding why the other couldn’t see their point of view. With the MBTI types and Strength Finders results in hand, we were able to bridge the divide between the types and to more readily tap into different people’s innate strengths, as well as minimize areas in which they are less strong.

Today, we tackle projects at the outset to suit different types, so everyone is better set up for success. One thing we do differently now is prepare for brainstorm sessions earlier so that the introverts in the group can think about the topic ahead of time and then contribute more fully during the session. Adding one to two days of preparation and thinking time has improved our sessions dramatically.

Other companies use the DISC personality assessment based on the work of William Marston, Walter Clarke, and John Geier. The DISC model measures personality based on four categories—D: Dominance, I: Influence, S: Steadiness,and C: Compliance. A considerable amount of work has been done on the best type of DISC profile to fill different roles and jobs in companies. For instance, for salespeople, choose people with high D (driver) and high I (influence); for accountants, choose people with high C (compliance) and S (security).

Whichever way you decide to assess people’s personalities and work styles, pursue a model and implement it. It will help you and your team work better together and recruit people who fit your team well.

Excerpted with permission from Chapter 6 of “Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work” by Lee Caraher (Bibliomotion, 2014). For more information, visit https://bibliomotion.com/books/millennials-management

Lee Caraher is founder and CEO of Double Forte Public Relations and author of “Millennials & Management: The Essential Guide to Making It Work at Work.”



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