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    May 03, 2016    |   Aidan Millar

Teambuilding with Temperament

exchange-of-ideas_others (8)Many of us find ourselves working on teams these days, and are probably quite familiar with the advantages and frustrations of this type of work. In many ways working on teams can be a positive and productive experience. It provides opportunities for collaboration, the synergy of diverse skills, and collegial support. However, team work also raises issues of less autonomy, accountability to colleagues, the requirement of frequent communication, and group problem solving. A consistent challenge is getting individuals to work together effectively on teams when individual members have differences in communication styles, project management, time management, information gathering and decision making. The differences among individuals can be extensive, but type and type temperament can allow facilitators, leaders and team members to start to understand and navigate these differences more simply and effectively.

Type temperament that arises from 4 combinations of preferences can be conceptualized as the inborn and life-course persistent motivators that help motivate behaviour. According to Keirsey and Bates (1995), temperament drives behaviour as the mechanism by which we attain what we must have. For this reason, temperament can provide a great avenue to explore team dynamics as you highlight needs and various contributions of each individual. Temperament can also help teams understand the need to flex in order to accommodate the varying needs of everyone while overcoming our own possible blindspots. Finally, temperament provides a new and novel way of looking at type preferences in combination rather than isolation.

Guardians (SJ) – Guardians want responsibility and predictability so they value operating procedures and trust what has worked in the past. Thethinking-outside-the-box-33399_1280 (2)y deal with the day to day logistics of getting work done. When working in teams they contribute administrative expertise, timely performance, and dependability. A blindspot for guardians can be too bureaucratic and may resist change, especially if it is frequent or dramatic.

Artisans (SP) – Artisans are spontaneous and action oriented and they value cleverness and timeliness. When working in teams they contribute resourcefulness and a willingness to take risks. They deal with the important issues of the day. While Artisans can swiftly handle the unexpected, they can be too expedient and focus too much on short term tactics at the expense of long range strategy.

Idealists (NF) – Idealists are imaginative and empathetic and they value inspiration and a personal approach to work. On teams, they contribute a vision of future possibilities and the ability to inspire others. They deal with developing potential in others and bridging differences to keep people working together effectively. Their weakness is that they can be too idealistic.

co-workers-294266_1280 (2)Rationals (NT) – Rationals are skeptical and precise and they value ingenuity and logic. They deal with planning for the future. When working with others they can provide a strategic analysis of complex issues and help set long range goals. They can get into trouble by being too competitive.

Teams composed of people with the same style have certain advantages: they perform tasks more quickly, experience less conflict and often like each other more. However, these like-minded groups are also more likely to make errors due to the inadequate representation of all viewpoints. One sided teams may overlook aspects of problems that people with different styles would have pointed out. Teams made up of people with diverse styles generally take longer to complete their tasks, but they tend to be more effective and produce better outcomes.

When facilitating a team-building session around temperament, I find it useful to ask the following questions to promote better effectiveness:

  1. What is your team missing? Rationals? Guardians? Artisans? Idealists? If your team is focused on long range planning is anyone paying attention to the day to day work? If your team is focused on operating systems, is anyone looking at staff development?
  1. If your team is composed of mostly like-minded individuals how can you ensure that other points of view are covered? Does your team recognize its blind spots? Do you take the time to consider your work from other points of view? Do you actively seek out different opinions?
  1. If your team has a lot of individual diversity what can you do to help people work together more effectively? Do team members recognize and appreciate the skills of their colleagues?

Often a basic knowledge of individual differences will help teams identify the particular talents and gifts that each member brings to his or her task. This knowledge can reduce conflict by re-framing sources of misunderstanding as natural individual differences. Temperament offers one avenue for helping team members recognize and appreciate these differences.

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