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Team Personality and Performance

I. Introduction

Teams are increasingly used by a wide range of organizations. From the factory
floor to the corporate board room, teams are viewed as a means to motivate
participants, increase productivity, and flatten the organizational hierarchy.
Teams are not new and have been around since the beginning of human history.
What is new is the concerted analysis of what makes work teams and the
successful application of the resulting principles to build effective teams. Team
building skills are critical for effectiveness as a manager or entrepreneur.

A team building success is when your team can accomplish something much
bigger and work more effectively than a group of the same individuals working on
their own. You have a strong synergy of individual contributions. But there are
two critical factors in building a high performance team.

The first factor in team effectiveness is the diversity of skills and personalities.
When people use their strengths in full, but can compensate for each other's
weaknesses. When different personality types balance and complement each
other.

The other critical element of team work success is that all the team efforts are
directed towards the same clear goals, the team goals. This relies heavily on
good communication in the team and the harmony in member relationships.

In real life, team work success rarely happens by itself, without focused team
building efforts and activities. There is simply too much space for problems. For
example, different personalities, instead of complementing and balancing each
other, may build up conflicts. Or even worse, some people with similar
personalities may start fighting for authority and dominance in certain areas of

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expertise. Even if the team goals are clear and accepted by everyone, there may
be no team commitment to the group goals or no consensus on the means of
achieving those goals: individuals in the team just follow their personal opinions
and move in conflicting directions. There may be a lack of trust and openness
that blocks the critical communication and leads to loss of coordination in the
individual efforts. And on and on. This is why every team needs a good leader
who is able to deal with all such team work issues.

Good teamwork is essential to job satisfaction. If workers are a part of properly


functioning teams, then they feel that they are needed. Furthermore, along with
the sense of belonging is a sense of accomplishment. Team members need to
feel that they are actually contributing to the collective goal of the team. If a team
member feels as though he or she is doing trivial work while others are doing
more meaningful work, then team unity will deteriorate. This is a situation in
which the team leader needs to step in and properly distribute tasks so that each
team member is challenged by his or her assignments. Leaders with proper skills
in motivation, who stimulate and challenge subordinates, are referred as effective
leaders.

Ineffective teams may be the product of inappropriate team composition.


Deciding to use a team approach is only the first step. Great care must be
exercised in building the team to ensure its ultimate effectiveness. There are a
number of pitfalls involving group dynamics that can undermine a team’s
effectiveness.

II. Personality & its Five Factor Model

Personality refers to an individual’s unique and stable pattern of thinking, feeling,


acting and reacting to his or her social environment. For example, whereas some
people prioritize harmony in their social relationships, others are more status-
seeking, interested in power and dominance; whereas some are imaginative and
have unconventional ideas, others strength is to be especially accurate even in

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long spells of detailed work. As these traits affect both individuals’ interpersonal
and work-related behavior, their influence on team-related processes is
considered to be substantial: Personality has more direct and powerful effects on
group processes than other composition variables typically studied e.g. age,
race, gender, and information distribution.

Personality Traits:

Adaptability—Team members use information from the task environment to


adjust strategies through the use of flexibility, (changing) behavior, and
reallocation of resources.

Shared situational awareness—Team members develop shared knowledge of


the team’s internal and external environment.

Performance monitoring and feedback—Team members give, seek, and receive


task-clarifying feedback.

Team management—Team members direct and coordinate task activities, assign


tasks, plan and organize, and motivate other team members.

Interpersonal relations—Team members optimize interpersonal interactions by


resolving conflicts, use of cooperation, and building morale.

Coordination—Team members organize team resources, activities, and


responses to ensure complete and timely completion of tasks.

Communication—Team members exchange information efficiently.

Decision making—Team members integrate or pool information, identify


alternatives, select solutions, and evaluate consequences.

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The Five Factor Model:

Personality, as assessed through standardized instruments, has a predictive


relationship with job performance approaching, and in some cases exceeding,
that of cognitive ability. The greatest single advance in personality research has
been the emergence and broad acceptance of the Five Factor model of
personality, commonly referred to as the "Big Five" (Digman, 1990; Hogan,
Hogan, & Roberts, 1996). The Big Five are bipolar dimensions of personality that
have been found to form the taxonomic (and factorial) core of personality models
and also capture lay-persons descriptions of personality as found in everyday
language. These dimensions/factors are:

a. extraversion
b. agreeableness
c. conscientiousness
d. Openness
e. Neuroticism.

There are several reasons why personality should be considered when


examining team performance. Individuals working in teams each bring something
to the team that affects the way the team interacts. This “something” consists of
expertise, cognitive ability, and the personalities exhibited by each team member.
Research indicates that there is a complex and profound relationship between
personality and job performance. Also, many companies use personality
assessment tools to assist in hiring decisions and work assignments of their
employees.

The predictive utility of personality assessment is enhanced when job type and
personality constructs are matched, either based on the findings of previous
research, rational analysis, or a thorough personality oriented job analysis. This
is to say, different tasks demand different personality profiles.

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Extraversion, widely agreed to be the first "Big Five" personality factor, appears
to be a valid predictor for tasks involving social interaction. As such, it is the most
appropriate initial factor to examine as we deal with interaction styles and
performance in teams in this study.

Extraversion refers to the degree to which individuals are gregarious, friendly,


compliant, cooperative, nurturing, caring and sympathetic in contrast to
introversion, which is characterized by those who are shy, unassertive, and
withdrawn. Extraversion affects interpersonal relations through the quality of
social interactions. Extraverts are usually active participants in group interactions
and often have high intragroup popularity. Extraversion is a personality factor that
consistently related to success in the work place. Extraversion correlates
positively with individual performance in jobs involving social interaction.

The proportion of group members that are high in extraversion may be related to
the groups’ interaction style, which in turn, affects both the objective group
performance (i.e., task solution quality) and subjective contextual outcomes such
as acceptance of the group solution. Too few extraverts can result in low
performance whereas too many extraverts can lead to a decrease in group
performance due to the group’s lessened ability to remain focused on task
completion. Two possible reasons are:

1) extraverts may be more concerned with pleasurable social interactions than


task completion and,

2) Too many extraverts may result in intra-team conflict. Recalling that one of the
characteristics of extraverts is dominance, conflict can occur when there are too
many dominant individuals.

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III. Performance & its measurement

The Team Performance Curve

A tool to define and understand the way in which different groups of people work
together, based on the criteria of performance impact and team effectiveness (1).
Varying levels of team effectiveness and performance impact result in five
different types of teams: working groups, pseudo-teams, potential teams, real
teams and high-performance teams.

Working Group

This type of team is a loosely grouped set of individuals. The impact on the
business is low and the team effectiveness is also low. Working groups are
therefore best suited to situations where people cooperate well with each other,
but where the results are not intended to be business critical. The strengths of
individuals do not combine with those of other group members, and members are

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often effectively working alone. An example might be a collection of individuals
working closely for the purpose of business information sharing.

Pseudo-Team
In pseudo-teams, dynamics and friendships have been developed and the group
works closely together, but real business issues are not addressed or are
superficially glossed over. In these teams, business need or benefit is extremely
low, but team effectiveness is much higher. These teams are anxious to avoid
conflict and therefore maintain team effectiveness at the expense of business
issues. The team may feel it is providing value to the business because members
have created a polite and friendly atmosphere with a sense of team-working,
however, they lack a proper business focus.

Potential Team

Potential teams exist where the business need or impact is high, but the team
effectiveness is still low. Team members are actively involved in business critical
projects and activities, but have not yet coordinated their efforts. There may be
team conflicts, disagreements or misunderstandings between individuals. The
‘potential’ is defined by the possibility that through team development such as
training, shared experience, or even simply time, individuals can be trained or re-
aligned to a common business purpose, thus becoming a ‘real’ or ‘high-
performance’ team.

Real Team

With increasing team effectiveness and a high business impact or need, teams
can become ‘real’. Real teams provide increased business impact because the
constituent individuals develop and maintain complimentary skills, rather than
competing with each other. They have learnt to enhance their efficiency and in
turn enhance their overall effectiveness. Real teams may still have ongoing
issues, but a good team structure allows them to address these issues, work
through problems, and achieve their common goals for the good of the business.

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High-Performance Team

Groups of individuals working closely together with a high level of business


impact and highly effective team interaction. They achieve more than real teams
due to their deep commitment to both each other and the business’s needs. The
collective output of a high-performance team is well above what could reasonably
be expected from the members as individuals.

Performance measurement

Two of these methods measure individual performance within teams and two
address the performance of the team. It is important to include individual
measures along with team measures so that all members are motivated to
participate.

• The Individual’s Team Contribution


o Behavior. How well the individual worked with team members.
Measures could include participating in team meetings,
volunteering for team projects, communicating in a constructive and
non-threatening manner, considered by other team members to be
pleasant to work with and to foster team cooperation.
o Results. The individual’s work products contribute to the final team
product or service.

• The Team’s Performance


o Processes. How well the team’s internal group dynamics work.
Measures can include how well the team works together, goal
setting, team meeting effectiveness, ability to achieve consensus,
efficacy of problem-solving techniques, feedback to team members,
recognizing individual and/or group achievements.
o Results. The team’s work products can be assessed for goal
achievement and timeliness.

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• Behaviors/Process Results
o Individual. Cooperates with team members, communicates ideas
during meetings, participates in the team’s decision-making
processes. The number of ideas contributed, the turn-around time
for the individual’s product, the accuracy of data supplied to the
team.
o Team. Runs effective meetings, communicates well as a group,
allows all opinions to be heard, comes to consensus on decisions

IV. Conclusion
A person's personality may not necessarily have a very high impact on a
person's job or productivity per se, depending on the type of work being done.
the notion that people who exhibit high levels of extraversion will have better
overall job performance is pretty evident, for being a salesperson especially,
requires a lot of social interaction, and an introverted salesperson would
obviously be less effective than an extravert. in addition to extraversion and its
positive correlation with job performance in terms of the social atmosphere
present in most workplaces: a conscientious person is obviously more likely to be
a more productive worker and an extraverted person will experience an optimal
level of arousal in a social workplace. Personality influence would perhaps
become less palpable if an individual's place of work is not a highly social arena
or the job is non-traditional.

If one's job does not require constant or high levels of social interaction, then
one's cognitive ability can become a much greater factor. Depending on the type
of job one holds, one's personality may have very little impact on the quality of
work being done or other job performance indicators. A job such as a writer may
not necessarily require high levels of extraversion. Other types of jobs that do not
require direct social interaction are probably similar in terms of cognitive abilities
or other factors affecting overall job performance.

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Openness to experience has not been shown to correlate significantly with job
performance. This may seem counterintuitive, because openness to experience
is sometimes also referred to intellect, and cognitive ability and intellect are
presumably related. One's openness to experience should be indicative of
creativity and originality; consequently, there may be a direct but unobvious
connection to job performance in terms of creating and trying new things that
may improve personal productivity or otherwise maybe even affect general
productivity on a greater scale--for example, a new way of doing things may
improve operation of an entire company. Openness would also then tie into
working with other people--for example, a person who is more open to
experience would be willing to try out new and different ideas presented by
coworkers. Openness may not relate to job performance due to limitations in the
methodology of past research, lack of a high enough correlation to reach
statistical significance, or even perhaps because there really is no direct relation
between openness to experience and overall job performance.

People's personalities obviously have an impact on many, many things that they
do, if not everything. How profound the effect of personality is on job
performance depends of course on the unique facets of an individual's
personality. Does personality have a great impact on overall productivity in a
social workplace? Yes, it does. Cognitive ability, however, has been shown to be
more positively correlated to actual task performance. Hence it is evident that,
personality comes into play again, because if one is unwilling to perform the task
and lacks conscientiousness, then the job will not get done, regardless of
potential ability. Social aspects of many traditional work environments may
overshadow some other unseen factors that affect overall workplace
productivity..

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