You have, had, or will have each of these personalities on your team at some point. These are the people who may drive you a little crazy, but they have value. As a team member or team leader, it’s important that you recognize, and understand each of these personalities in order to optimize team dynamics.
The below personalities should not be looked at in a vacuum. One must consider the organizational culture, and other attributes of these personalities to evaluate if they are best for a given team. Do they do their fair share of the work? Are they reliable? Are they accountable? etc. You never want the extremes of these personalities, but let’s take a close look at what they bring to the table.
This is the person that has an answer for everything even though the answer may not always be right. They overload you with information, some of which may not make any sense. They are often the first to “raise their hand”. The Know-It-All is often the talker on the team. They always have something to say. So, you ask, how can this person be a valuable team player?
The Know-It-All may not know everything, but they know a lot. If you need a quick go-to-person during a meeting or presentation, The Know-It-All is the right person. They serve as a good knowledge base for the team, and are good at retaining and recalling information, which may be beneficial to the team. The Know-It-All also is open to sharing information, and does not hoard it; as a result, others on the team can learn quite a bit. As long as the Know-It-All’s intentions are in the right place, try your best to focus on the value they bring to the team.
Have you ever been in training, and at the end when everyone is ready to leave, and that one person has one more question? Well, that’s The Questioner. The will drive you crazy with questions that sometimes have nothing to do with the topic at hand, and the questions can seem endless. However, The Questioner’s curiosity is not all bad.
Questions breed conversation. Conversation ignites ideas and helps resolve issues. The Questioner gives the team food for thought. While not all The Questioner’s questions are relevant, they often bring up questions that help the team consider new and better options. This is how The Questioner contributes to the team, and this is how they give value and feel valued.
Organizations always talk about having a positive work environment and want employees to have positive attitudes, but The Cheerleader can take it to a very annoying level. This may particularly be the case if the peppy cheerleader catches you before your morning coffee. The Cheerleader can hit you over the head with pep and optimism, and you may even wonder if it is authentic. A true Cheerleader cannot fake it.
The Cheerleader helps keep morale up. This is especially needed when teams are facing tight deadlines, challenging projects, or other team stressors. Low morale is a team and productivity killer. Your Cheerleader can really lift spirits in certain situations. This person may not always be the most productive person on the team, as they tend to me more social, but their value should not be understated.
It may be hard to admit, but sometimes you just need someone to do what you want or need them to do. The Follower generally does not bring much to the table in terms of ideas or innovation, which can be frustrating. They may not have an opinion on much, but I would argue at least one is needed on a team, and here is why.
The Follower is generally a hard worker. The Follower will get the job done with little fuss. This person is someone that helps the team’s plan come to fruition. They are reliable and loyal. This person takes joy in helping the team execute tasks, and helping others is how they relate to the team.
This is not a typo; pessimists can play a positive role on a team. However, there is a fine line here, and we need to be careful. You don’t want someone who is full of doom and gloom; that’s a hardcore pessimist. The Pessimist I am speaking of usually points out what can go wrong. This person is likely someone who over-analyzes everything, and it can be frustrating to the team at times. You may even try to avoid the pessimist if you don’t want to be brought down, but hold on.
The Pessimist is a key figure on a team because they are great at identifying possible risks to a project or organization. This, in turn, allows the team to try and mitigate those risks, which can result in a successful outcome. Look closely, The Pessimist may like to play devil’s advocate to help ensure the best results.
Teams are complex, and each person comes to the table with his or her unique skills and experiences. Sometimes we need to look beyond the surface of those things what may annoy us and see the value or potential value in those personality traits that are often seen in a negative way. While you never want the extremes, take a look to see if these people have real value to your team; you may be surprised.