This blog post is part of our Truity at Work series for those who are new to people management. In these posts, we’re creating useful content for managers and teams alike, helping you to understand personality, improve communication, and navigate conflict and change with ease. For an overview of the series, start with our introductory post here.

Most of the time when we think about understanding personality, we focus on understanding our own, or that of our partner, best friend or family member. But if you are the manager of a team, then knowing about your team’s personality can be incredibly helpful — both as individuals, but also as a collective.

Why? Because when people come together in a group, dominant traits will become part of the team’s strengths and then eventually part of the team culture — the way the team does things without thinking about them. When norms become ingrained into a team, it gets harder to see your blindspots, so the team as a collective can fall into the same potholes again and again without realizing it. 

Too often, we create teams of people who are like us. This makes it even harder to see the mono-culture that may be developing because it tends to mirror how we, as managers, want to see the world. And that means the team may be missing out on the broader ideas and perspectives that a more personality-diverse team would bring to the table.  

Having a profile of your team, and the insights that can provide, can help you start to lift the veil and understand the processes and approaches your team defaults to and start enabling it’s opposite. 

Extraverted vs Introverted team culture 

Teams with a dominant extraverted culture prefer to offer a variety of solutions to customers, and aren’t as interested in offering a single in-depth experience. They will easily engage with many stakeholders, gathering information and resources from across the organization and external groups, and be interested in addressing the expectations of those people and groups. And they are more likely to ask for support when things get tough, requesting assistance from external contractors or agencies. 

Not surprisingly, introverted cultures operate a little differently. They prefer to offer in-depth experiences, keeping things simple and focused and worrying less about having a variety of bells and whistles. An introverted team will seek insights and feedback from a few chosen people who have the expertise and experience they value. And they will remain focused on the objectives they set themselves, rather than worry about what external groups expect.  

When things get hard, an introverted team draws on the resources and skills they already have within the team or organization in order to get the job done. 

Sensing vs Intuition team culture

When a team has more of a Sensing culture, they will shine when using well-established processes and procedures for completing tasks, and will document new procedures for others and keep them updated. The team will focus on capturing the verifiable facts of a situation, and will dismiss anything that isn’t based on reality. They assign tasks to people who have done something similar before and hire contractors who can prove they have the experience to complete the project. And they appreciate people who take a more practical approach, ensuring they have an immediate impact for the business rather than worrying about how it contributes to the long-term vision.

An Intuitive team will wither under the use of standard procedures, instead needing a more creative approach. They are likely to rely on insights and hunches rather than raw data, and hire contractors and agencies based on inspiration and alignment to the vision. Intuitive teams appreciate imagination and taking a new and different approach for any projects. They prefer not to do something in a way it has been done before, regardless of how successful the previous approach was. 

Thinking vs Feeling team culture 

Team cultures with a Thinking preference are more business-like, to the point, and can be a bit tactless, especially with personal information. They will make decisions based around a guiding set of principles, and prefer to apply them consistently to all, ensuring everyone is treated the same. There is likely to be more debate about the appropriate path forward and they will regularly ask for critical feedback in order to improve. 

Those with a Feeling preference are warm, friendly, and engage in social niceties before talking about business. They make decisions based around how other people will be impacted, including the team. And will treat people as individuals, making exceptions to policies on a case by case basis. There will be little conflict or disagreement within the  team, as everyone works to maintain harmony. Team members will be generous with their praise and support.

Judging vs Perceiving team culture 

Judging-oriented teams want clear goals, outcomes and deadlines. They want to have the plan, metrics, and budget signed off before starting a project. They will have a clear routine that works for the individual and the team, with meetings pre-booked and an agenda distributed in advance. They value thoroughness, and will work at a consistent and steady pace to ensure nothing gets overlooked.

Perceiving-oriented teams prefer to skip over making a detailed plan and just get started, and see what emerges as they go. For them, the ability to flex and adapt to changing information is more important than having a plan or adhering to a routine. Instead of a plan, they prefer to have general parameters or clear constraints with a more open-ended approach, allowing them to tailor the final product around what they learn as they go. They can bring a sense of playfulness to the workplace, keeping things light. 

How do I learn this about my team?

It can be hard to see your team culture from the inside. It is often much easier for those outside your team or organization to describe the strengths and weaknesses of a culture. That is one of the reasons why personality assessments can be so helpful — they help you take a step back and see what you naturally cannot.

Once your team has completed your chosen personality assessment, take a look at each element collectively. What elements are represented the most? Which are the least represented? Then look at how that translates into daily life for your team. What have they been praised for recently? And what critical feedback have they received? If that lines up with your team profile, you can then start working with those insights to increase the performance of your team.

To learn more, visit the Truity at Work Platform to access our easy-to-use, all-in-one team personality tests.

Samantha Mackay
Samantha is a certified Enneagram coach at Individuo and educator at Truity. She has found knowing her personality type (ENTP / Enneagram 7) invaluable for recovering from burnout and for working with her anxiety, chronic illnesses and pain. To work with Samantha visit www.individuo.life