Let me start with… There are two types of people: the extroverts and the introverts. If you don’t get how to bring them closer together quickly, you stand vulnerable to some pretty stormy days ahead.
The personality types on the team I helped this week sat firmly in four opposing styles. They were as diverse as the snowflakes that blanket the north in winter.
Under normal circumstances this type of diversity would be considered a great strength. For this new team however, the personality conflicts were getting seriously in the way, and causing emotional and professional turmoil. In the forming, storming, norming, performing cycle, they were in the middle of a perfect storm.
This wasn’t anywhere close to teamwork. No. They were in a state of Team-Hate.
Their courageous leader knew she needed to act. But what solution would do? This team needed to figure out first, that their counterparts were not actually out to make their lives miserable, and second, that the differences they were experiencing were actually gifts they could leverage!
What she didn’t realize but perhaps sensed subconsciously was this: Left to their own devices, this team would endure a prolonged period of storming.
They had only been together a few months and they were already poised to be victims of burnout at work due to factors other than the work itself.
This is because two of the four people on the team (the two experiencing the worst of the friction), were introverts when it came to getting to know other people and one another.
There are two types of people, you see…
Extroverts will typically meet and get to know many people rather quickly. They are great at spilling their life stories and asking lots of questions to many people so they can get to know just enough about them to be productive in their work. They do this quickly, and can therefore accommodate many new relationships in their lives in a short amount of time.
Introverts on the other hand keep their cards close, and prefer fewer, richer, deeper and longer relationships. They open up only after having time to develop trust in someone new. Some would consider the introverted relationships to be less superficial than the average extroverts. (Extroverts can also have deep and rich relationships… They just start from a more relaxed and open state and build over time). Introverts take longer to get to know, and they take their time getting to know others.
What would make this team a success was a management intervention. They needed a catalyst to get the team to a state of knowing, understanding and appreciating one another more quickly. They could not afford the luxury of time - they had a lot of serious business to attend to!!
A team personality assessment and debrief offered exactly the catalyst this team needed. It was a safe, structured and objective way to get these introverts to a place of wisdom that would have taken them months if left to their own devices. They could now take the pent-up emotional energy and redirect it to the work, and their own career advancement.
The lesson for managers: Success depends on multiple factors beyond just the work, including personality, behaviours and leadership courage.
What have you done recently to help your team get to know one another?