Managing Groups and Teams/Team Personalities

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Achieving High Performance Through Diverse Personalities[edit | edit source]

Introduction and Scope[edit | edit source]

Diversity in personality is like adding color to an otherwise black-and-white television screen. High-definition, surround-sound, plasma TV is much more enjoyable than grandpa’s fuzzy, black-and-white mono speaker TV. The scope of this chapter is to address the question of diversity in personality and demonstrate that it is not only possible but also recommended to achieve high performance through diversity in personality. We discuss the ways to identify personality, contributor personalities, and inhibitor personalities. We offer considerations and limitations to personality profiling. We also provide links to professional resources and consultant firms specializing in personality diversity. Finally in this chapter we provide references and credible sources for this material. Welcome to our wiki book chapter, enjoy.

Why Personality Diversity Is Important[edit | edit source]

There can be great energy harnessed from team members’ different personality traits if managed properly. Leaders must possess the skills to build their teams around the right personalities and to manage those personalities. We all see the world from our own unique perspective, our own paradigm. When we’re part of a team, we bring that paradigm to the team environment. Good and bad personality traits within a team can offset one another and build on each other and lead to synergies. Rather than ask each team member to conform to a group norm, leaders must recognize and utilize personality differences to ensure high performance.

Although some argue that personality classification is simply an attempt to "quantify the unquantifiable," studying and recognizing different personality types can help you work more effectively with your peers. Temet Nosce Learning more about your own personality traits can help you understand your own strengths and weaknesses, which can help in selecting team members that will complement you. Learning about others' personalities can help you develop the ability to view situations from their perspectives and improve your own psychological peripheral vision (Butler, 2000), which can be a crucial management skill to help make the team successful.

There are several characteristics of successful teams. One such characteristic is diversity in team members. Diversity in culture, background, age, and ethnicity are important for high performing teams, but so too is personality diversity. All teams are made up of a diverse range of personalities, but it is the high performing teams that leverage their personality differences and mitigate and manage inhibitor personalities, to achieve their common goal. Think about high performing sports teams and there is likely to be a cast of characters with unique personalities. Members of the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s were full of eccentric personalities. Dennis Rodman was the outspoken flamboyant player, Scottie Pippen was the often aloof team member and Michael Jordan was the fierce competitor. Each player was a critical piece to the Bulls' championship team puzzle. Each had his personality strengths and weaknesses. Their coach and leader, Phil Jackson, harnessed their strengths and managed their weaknesses toward a common goal. The Bulls won six championships and Phil Jackson became known more as a Zen master than an NBA coach. He later went on to win three more championships with the Lakers, successfully managing two diverse superstars in Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Jackson is widely recognized for his leadership ability and, specifically, his ability to motivate athletes with strong personalities to work as a team.

Achieving High Performance: The Real Reason[edit | edit source]

Anyone can become angry – that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not easy.
—Aristotle, 350BC

Emotional intelligence is the ability to use emotions effectively and many believe EI is the primary that determines high performance. The first academic definition of emotional intelligence was published in 1990 by Peter Salovey and Jack Mayer, of Yale University and University of New Hampshire, respectively (Freedman and Everett).

Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
—Mayer & Salovey

Meanwhile and since the publication - researchers and academics, practitioners and consultants, and companies are investigating new ways to use their understanding of emotional intelligence to elevate professional and personal success. Why? Daniel Goleman, author of the best-selling book Working with Emotional Intelligence, estimates that IQ accounts for only 4% to 25% on how well people perform at work and that the other 75% to 96% left unexplained can be, largely, attributed to emotional intelligence.

Goleman states that emotional competence is the more accurate predictor of the most successful people – not IQ. For example, PepsiCo, conducted a pilot project where executives selected for high emotional intelligence competencies outperformed their colleagues, delivering a 10% in productivity, 87% decrease in executive turnover ($4m), $3.75 million added economic value, and over 1000% return on investment (Freedman & Everett). Not surprisingly, Johnson and Johnson came to the same striking conclusion: “Emotional competence differentiates successful leaders.” So what competencies or factors go into the making of the successful leader or individual? Goleman, created the following framework to define emotional competence:

The Emotional Competence Framework
Personal Competence Social Competence
Self-Awareness Empathy
Self-Regulation Social Skills

People with high performance have a strong combination of personal and social competences – in essence, high emotional intelligence. So, teams that are high performing will have leaders and members who are a blend of Goleman’s emotional competencies.

How to Identify Different Personalities[edit | edit source]

There are many ways to identify different personalities: look, listen, smell, touch, taste, and perceive. Obviously, some of these methods might not be the most appropriate or useful, especially in the workplace.

Many different personalities tests are available to test and identify different personalities. Among these personality tests are the Big 5, Myers-Briggs, and the Color Code system. We choose to focus on the Big 5 since it is highly regarded in business and academic communities.

The Big 5 focuses on five personality factors which help individuals understand themselves and their teammates. The following is a very brief summary:

Need for Stability Factor
Refers to the degree to which a person responds to stress.
Extraversion Factor
Refers to the degree to which a person can tolerate sensory stimulation from people and situations.
Originality Factor
Refers to the degree to which we are open to new experiences/new ways of doing things.
Accommodation Factor
Refers to the degree to which we defer to others.
Consolidation Factor
Refers to the degree to which we push toward goals at work.

Take the Big Five Test[edit | edit source]

Here are a couple websites that offer the Big 5 personality test free of charge.

Contributor Personalities[edit | edit source]

While there are many personalities that inhibit a team's performance, there are others that help the team accomplish goals, tasks, and objectives. Some personalities contribute to a team culture that facilitates high performance and accomplishment. Other personalities simply keep things in check and under control. Having this type of diversity in a team's makeup of personalities can play a vital role in the team's success.

Types of Constructive Personalities[edit | edit source]

There are many personality types that are very constructive and which help in becoming a high-performing team. A few of them are listed here:

Silent Contributor
A person with this personality type is someone who gets the job done without saying much. They silently complete the tasks that are assigned to them, and very rarely create conflict. One must take care to balance this type of team member with someone who is not afraid to speak up, however, so that necessary communications happen for the team to progress.
Devil's Advocate
This type of person is someone who likes to challenge ideas and processes. They act as an internal "check" on what you are doing and the processes you use. Although this person can generate conflict, oftentimes it is healthy conflict that brings ideas to light or helps to challenge biases.
People who like to keep structure to meetings, organize documentation, and make sure things run smoothly are often referred to as "facilitators." These people facilitate the operation of a team by making sure everything goes according to plan, on schedule, and in order. People with this type of personality help to reduce the probability that chaos will ensue from random team members trying to accomplish their distinct agendas simultaneously. This is a "control" member of the team.
Some people are really good a leading a team to success. This type of person is not afraid to take charge, delegate assignments, enforce accountability, encourage others, and facilitate success. Some are natural born leaders, others simply learn by doing.
A dutiful worker. Some people are really good at following directions and assignments, and they work very hard to get their work done on time. This type of person more suited to this type of role because they know how to work hard and are okay with following instructions. Having the bulk of the work taken care of by the "followers" allows the other roles within the team to take care of their functions.

Some Can, Some Can't, Some Won't[edit | edit source]

The truth is that some people are good at team collaboration, some aren't, and others are unwilling.

Some people just seem to have the "gift" of working with and leading a team and ensuring its success. These are hard-working people with a mind for collaboration and putting the success of the team above their own ego. This type of person will help others achieve their goals by working with them to resolve frustrations, remove impediments, and create an atmosphere of mutual satisfaction. This type of team player encourages the rest of the team to work collaboratively towards the team goals.

Others may not have collaborative personality traits within them. Although their intentions might be good, they may not see eye-to-eye with team members on processes, methods or goals. Oftentimes this type of person will be confrontational and impatient. Even though they would like the team to succeed, sometimes their own work ethic or personality gets in the way. This type of person can learn to work better within a team if they recognize their impact on others and are willing to make changes to their style.

Some people simply won't work with a team. This type of person thinks they can get the job done faster, easier or better than the team could, and therefore simply will not cooperate. This type of person must get past their own ego if they are to work successfully in a team, and this type of change must start from within.

Inhibitor Personalities[edit | edit source]

No matter where a person works, difficult personalities present problems and challenges in the workplace. These inhibitor personalities cause a great deal of stress and are sometimes complex to address. The temptation is to avoid people with personalities that inhibit logical workflow as it takes time, skill and effort to deal with them. Personality conflicts are felt by all managers at all levels, but most avoid dealing directly with them. A study of 250 senior professionals conducted in the United Kingdom in 2005 noted that half of those surveyed encountered difficult people on a daily basis (Berry 2005). Despite this finding, the study noted that only 15% of managers actually confronted the inhibiting behavior. 55% tried to help by discussing the problems and 30% just ignored or put up with the difficult personality. These findings are largely due to the lack of knowledge about how to deal with inhibitor personalities and the inability to confront the stresses involved.

Types of Difficult Personalities[edit | edit source]

To better understand the types of personalities that can be disruptive in the work environment, it is necessary to explain the types of personalities that inhibit teams in the workplace so that an approach can be applied to deal with each type. There are four basic categories of personalities that can be found in the workplace: aggressive, deceptive, passive and destructive.

People showing these personalities demonstrate hostile and forceful behavior toward others. People exhibiting aggressive behavior charge forward in an attacking and forceful way to display the frustration or anger they feel but cannot resolve. These people need to be heard and have a need to vent while at the same time needing people to listen to them. Aggressive personalities include perfectionists, dictators, hostile-aggressives, attackers, egotists, bullies and criticizers who always say no to any request.
People who engage in deceptive behavior aren’t comfortable with direct confrontation and prefer to attack from a distance from behind some kind of protection. People with this type of personality are still vocal and tend to either complain quite a bit without direct attacks or compensate for their frustration and dissatisfaction by being everything from sneaky to over-agreeable. These types of personalities include snipers who attack from a distance and always seem to have hidden agendas; overtly nice people who agree with everything until they are overwhelmed; “brownnosers” who have an unnatural attachment to those in charge as a way to get ahead; those who seem unresponsive to anything; and those who spread rumors to increase their own self esteem.
People who are meek in the workplace present problems as well. Passive personalities are negative, but portray themselves as victims, always ready to dismiss any solution presented to them. Passive personality types include martyrs, passive-aggressives, moody people, crybabies, self-castigators, worriers, resisters, silent types and those who say “it’s not my job”.
People who exhibit destructive behaviors can be explosive and unpredictable. Failure to understand this personality type can lead to extreme problems in the workplace that can create an unsafe work environment. This type of inhibitor personality includes people who are sociopathic and those who are substance abusers.

Aggressive Personalities[edit | edit source]

The aggressive personality type is forceful in what they want and demand that their issues be dealt with right away. These aggressive inhibitors include:

Every detail must be perfect or the perfectionist becomes negative. They are never satisfied with their own work and are own worst critic. They have unrealistic standards and even work that is praised by other workers as the highest quality work is not acceptable to the perfectionist. They cannot accept any kind of criticism and will focus on anything not perfect, even if that part is a tiny part of the overall work done. A perfectionist manager tends to be a micromanager.
A person with this personality will make a great deal of demands on everyone and will try to tell them how to do their jobs. They will walk all over the more passive personality types because they will let the dictator roll over them. Dictators are often angry and hostile and have a strong need to control. For the dictator, it is “my way or the highway”.
People exhibiting this personality are pushy and demanding, constantly argumentative and can be hostile and abusive. They have a need to stir things up and thrive on the chaos they cause. (Aldrich 2002). These employees don’t care whether the reaction they get is positive or negative as they gain positive self-recognition regardless of the outcome.
These people demonstrate emotion-based hostility and aggressive that they are unable to control. These attacks are not personal to the person being attacked, the attacker is just looking for someone to vent the frustration and anger for which he or she can’t find an outlet. Attackers are genuinely upset and need someone to listen to their pain.
These are attackers who have a superior attitude and think they know it all. They charge forward with their disapproval of anything that they as experts feel is not going the way it should. Egotists are arrogant and will disagree with most everything that is said because they like to be right. They always find problems, not opportunities. They often criticize others to make themselves feel better.
The bully uses threats and intimidation to undermine others. Bullies attempt to undo another person as part of their plan to retain popularity and power. Bullies have an inflated view of themselves and is threatened by someone who is likeable, well qualified or attractive. (Guy 2001). They will humiliate, destroy, discredit or intimidate another person to make themselves look better.
A criticizer will strike down anything this is new, creative or different. His or her mission is to disagree with anything that is said (Topchik 2006). She will jump on any mistake and disagree with it with negative feedback. A manager who is a criticizer exhibits it by always saying no to all requests.

Deceptive Personalities[edit | edit source]

The person with a deceptive personality type will not directly confront as in the case of the aggressive type. This personality will instead work behind the scenes or from a distance to disrupt the workplace or gain favor. These deceptive inhibitors include:

They use pointed jabs, humor and verbal sparing to put others down, usually from a distance and behind the scenes. These people take potshots at others, use sarcasm as a weapon, lurk on conference calls to silently gather information, talk behind other people’s backs and go to great lengths to make their behind the scenes efforts untraceable back to them. These people will not discuss their opinions in a public forum.
These are “yes” people who have a powerful desire to be liked and appreciated. They never say no to anything and are far too uncomfortable to voice an opposing opinion. They are often overwhelmed with too many projects since they never say no to anything and are always positive in approach. These people can be problematic in the workplace when they agree with one person’s approach and then also agree with an opposing position from someone else.
Also known as bootlickers, people with this personality type believe that the shortest way to the top is on the coattails of the boss. They will exhibit a complete devotion and dedication to those in charge and will not ever tell the truth about their tactics or any of the boss’ activities. They live in a constant self-reinforcing denial state that is perpetuated by the sense of importance bosses get from them.
These people are very hard to understand and to draw out because they don’t provide enough to work with. They tend to be uncommitted to anything with work as the lowest priority in their lives. They waste time, spent a lot of time on personal matters and try to get by doing as little as possible.
This is one of the more difficult deceptive personalities in that much of their negativity is spread through ideas and statements that are not true, but are hard to trace back to the source. This person feels a great sense of importance when the rumors this person circulates force strong reactions from others. Rumormongers tend to be very specific about what rumors they spread (examples include spreading rumors around senior managers, job cuts, salaries, competition and dating in the workplace), which maximizes the impact and increases their sense of self worth.

Passive Personalities[edit | edit source]

These are people with meek personalities and are often self-deprecating to a fault. They tend to be moody and sensitive people who worry greatly, resist change, complain and need constant encouragement. This personality type includes the following:

This person is the one who comes in early, stays late, seems to not have a life outside of work and will do anything asked of them. While doing this, they will also complain about workload, other employees, clients, managers and everything else in between. The martyr always feels like her efforts go unappreciated. They usually act defeated and powerless. The martyr’s trademark statement is “I have given up everything for this company and nobody cares” (Topchik 2006).
People with this personality style lack assertiveness and feel out of control. To remedy this, they find satisfaction in controlling another person’s life (Guy 2001). They are very jealous and resentful and have so little belief in themselves that they can’t compete with another person without bringing them down. Anyone that this person feels threatened by is subject to their anger, sabotage, deliberate procrastination and other tricks. They often have good excuses for this type of behavior that clouds manager attempts to correct the issue.
People who behave like children when they don’t get their way. They withdraw, cry or go on a tirade. They then act as if they are powerless in the same way martyrs do and usually believe everything that happens to them is bad (Manning 2004).
This personality shows itself in the form of constant self putdowns. This person finds fault with everything he does, from work performance to salary to appearance to economic status to everything that defines a person’s self concept. Even if the person is performing well on the job, he will not see it that way himself. This person always takes the blame when something goes wrong, further enhancing negative feelings about personal self worth.
These people walk on eggshells and are very sensitive to any negative comment. They usually complain about being too stressed and are expecting the ceiling to fall down on them at any moment. She is unhappy with the way things are and is constantly pessimistic both at work and outside of it.
Any kind of change upsets the resistor no matter how small. This person is only comfortable with the status quo and will resist any attempts to introduce new ideas and reorganizations. If the change is threatening enough, the resisters will try to sabotage it or spread negative rumors about the change.
Silent types
These people keep to themselves and don’t express any feelings or thoughts on any subject. They work completely alone and even when placed on a team, will contribute nothing to the team in the form of active participation.
“It’s not my job”-ers
These are very negative people who will reject any task that is outside of their perceived job responsibilities no matter how small the task may be. They usually do this as retribution for a slight that someone in the organization has put upon them.

Destructive Personalities[edit | edit source]

These include people who have significant problems outside of work that impact themselves and others at work. They include:

These are people who lead double lives. Their work lives and personal lives couldn’t be more different. These are the people who portray themselves as supportive and charming, but in reality are cold and ruthless. They act on their impulses without regard for the consequences on others. Managers who do not detect that words do not match actions invite severely destructive consequences (Guy 2001)
Substance Abusers
People with alcohol or drug abuse problems who try to mask their abuse at work. They will sometimes work at a very high level and then drop off dramatically. Absenteeism followed by plausible excuses are part of a repeating pattern that is destructive to the person and to co-workers.

Addressing Inhibitor Personalities[edit | edit source]

In dealing with all inhibitor personalities, the core emotional competency to be developed, first, is self-awareness: recognizing one’s emotions and their effects. This should be common sense; after all, you must be self-aware of the problem before the problem can be addressed. For instance, if people are lacking – social competence - in listening openly and sending convincing messages then they would be inept at leading and facilitating others towards a common goal. If they lack self-confidence - personal competence - then it would be difficult to establish respect with others. When dealing with the various personality inhibitors, the first step in addressing the issue it to identify the root cause of the problem itself.

Adapted from Goleman’s framework, we created the “Emotional Competency Framework” table for leaders on how to address personalities that prohibit teams from reaching their full potential – the inhibitor personalities.

In our table below, we made recommendations on how to address the four inhibitor personality types: aggressive, deceptive, passive, and destructive. For example, to address the aggressive personality type we would encourage the aggressor to develop empathy and social skills; developing an understanding of others and sensing other’s feelings and perspectives would help them empathize and become less aggressive; developing collaboration and cooperation skills would help them work amiably with others towards a shared, clear and elevating without using aggressive, emotionally charged, tactics.

Emotional Competency Framework[edit | edit source]

Inhibitor Emotional competencies to be developed
Perfectionists Develop emotional awareness, recognize that their emotions and their negative effects of being too aggressive
Dictators Self-Regulation
Hostile-aggressives Develop self-control by keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check
Attackers Develop innovation and encourage the individual to being comfortable with novel ideas, approaches and new information
Egotists Empathy
Bullies Develop understanding others, sensing other’s feelings and perspectives, and taking an active interest in their concerns
Criticizers Social Skills
Develop collaboration and cooperation, working with others toward shared, clear and elevating goals
Develop influence, wielding effective tactics for persuasion
Develop conflict management, negotiating and resolving disagreements
Snipers Develop emotional awareness, recognize that their emotions and their negative effects of being deceptive
Over-Agreeables Self-Regulation
Brownnosers Develop trustworthiness, maintaining standards of honesty and integrity
Unresponsives Social Skills
Rumormongers Develop building bonds, nurturing instrumental relationships
Develop collaboration and cooperation, working with others toward shared, clear and elevating goals
Martyrs Develop emotional awareness, recognize that their emotions and their negative effects of being passive
Passive-aggressives Develop self-confidence, a strong sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities
Crybabies Self Regulation
Self-castigators Develop conscientiousness, taking responsibility for personal performance
Worriers Motivation
Resisters Develop achievement drive, striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence
Silent Types Develop optimism, persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and setbacks
“It’s Not My Job”-ers Social Skills
Develop influence, wielding effective tactics for persuasion
Develop team capabilities, creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals
Sociopaths Develop emotional awareness, recognize that their emotions and their negative effects of being destructive
Substance abusers Develop self-confidence, a strong sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities
Self Regulation
Develop self-control, keeping disruptive impulses in check
Develop conscientiousness, taking responsibility for personal actions
Develop optimism, persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and setbacks

Goleman’s “The Emotional Competence Framework” was adapted to this framework

Personality Profiling Considerations[edit | edit source]

Personality profiling can be a very useful tool in understanding your teammate’s communication styles, motivations and reward preferences. It can help you understand better how to relate to people and work with them. However, psychologists stress that personality type doesn't explain everything about us and that people with the same personality type often behave differently. [1]

Experts also agree that people cannot simply trade one personality type for another — that personality types are like left- or right-handedness — most people are born preferring one hand. Similarly, every person is born with a personality type, which means that people react differently to different stimuli. For example, an introverted person may find relaxation through focusing on memories, thoughts or feelings, while an extroverted personality concentrates on the outer world. No personality type is inherently better than another, although certain personality types work better together and some are more suited to certain roles on the team.

Profiling and Stereotyping

Although personality profiling is popular, it can prove to be a stumbling block if not used carefully because personality profiling makes use of stereotypes, which is often used improperly and limits one’s ability to see things clearly.

Walter Lippmann[[2]], an influential American writer, journalist and political commentator, once said “For the most part we do not first see, and then define; we define first, and then we see.”

Lippman’s candid statement reminds us about how easy it is to assign someone to a certain personality type (defining them) without having all the facts. Stereotypes and personality profiling can make us mentally lazy. As Samuel Ichiye Hayakawa[[3]], an academic and former United States Senator from California, explained that the danger of stereotypes “lies not in their existence, but in the fact that they become for all people some of the time, and for some people all the time, substitutes for observation.”

Drawbacks and Cautions

Personality profiling can be a very useful tool in helping people better understand themselves and the members of their teams. However, it can be detrimental if not used with caution. Following are three areas that could sustain damage: 1.) Oneself; 2.) Other team members; 3.) The organization as a whole.


When people determine that they are a certain personality type (i.e. “I’m a Blue”) it gives them a useful set of tools to better understand themselves. However, it may be limiting as well. They might begin to think that they are not capable or suited to certain tasks because their personality profile says they are not. They may use the personality profile as a crutch which keeps them from growing in new areas or interacting in meaningful ways with others.


In addition, when people immediately use personality profiling to judge the members of their team, they often make false assumptions that they understand their team members, when if fact they do not. While it is true that profiling helps individuals make quick judgments that can be useful in certain circumstances (i.e. the short-lived team with a short-term goal), people often do not go beyond those initial judgments to understand the motivations, work styles and personality temperaments of the co-workers.


Personality profiling is often used in the workplace as a method for screening and making decisions on whom to hire. Some HR professionals embrace the technique, while others do not. Although personality testing may be useful, companies need to be aware of the risks involved in using them to predict future employee behavior on the job. They may be exposing themselves to lawsuits or other legal problems if used improperly.

Deep- and surface-level diversity[edit | edit source]

By focusing on personality diversity, as opposed to demographic diversity, businesses may begin to study what David A. Harrison terms "deep-level diversity" (Harrison et al, 1998). Deep-level diversity consists of the attitudes, beliefs, values and commitment to the organization that different individuals in a group might have. This is in contrast to the traditional method of expressing diversity through heterogeneity in categories such as race, gender, or age, or what can called "surface-level diversity." For example, the current thinking in deep-level diversity would account for the phenomenon that a male, Indian, engineer from the Punjab might be arguing alongside a younger female marketer from the midwest US to support a similar project approach. While the two are certainly demographically different, they may hold very similar values about work, economy, and share similar commitments to the organization. By exploring current information on deep-level diversity, not just surface-level diversity, organizations may leverage important performance benefits and avoid costly pitfalls.

It remains unclear if deep-level diversity characteristics can be discerned from personality profiling assessments. It is unlikely to match up exactly with the current discussion of personality types. What studies do show, however, is that the effects of surface-level differences diminish over time as the group works together and the importance of the effects from deep-level diversity in the group increases markedly. According to the study, "Beyond Relational Demography: Time and the Effects of Surface- and Deep-level Diversity on Work Group Cohesion," the more work group members "continue to interact with one another, dissimilarity in the typically studied surface level dimensions such as sex and age become less important than deep level attitudinal dissimilarity in, for instance, job satisfaction" (Harrison et al, 1998) The authors state that the reason for this is that time is required for high-quality informational interactions among group members, in which they learn about each other's deep-level characteristics, and subsequently develop more meaningful, richly-functional, relationships. Further, Harrison also conducted a study that found "increasing levels of collaboration . . . can reduce the impact race, gender, or age differences on team performance" and that "as team members continue to work together over time, personality and value differences surface more clearly" (2002).

Recommendations[edit | edit source]

Harrison's research suggests that groups seek deep-level diversity in knowledge, skills, and abilities but minimize diversity in job-related beliefs, attitudes, and values. This can lead to what he calls "especially effective teams" (2002). However, he cautions that in order to be successful, it is important that such groups are rewarded for collaboration and "that member's individual outcomes depend more on team performance than their own" (2002).

According to FastCompany, this type of deep-level diversity also corresponds to a higher ROI, service diversification, and sales growth, as well as more internal communication and an increase in assets (Davies 2004).

However, two elements of previous surface-level diversity problems seem to carry over even into contexts of deep-level diversity: first, increased diversity on both levels is still associated with an increase in turnover and integration and coordination problems; second, it still appears that in the supervisor/subordinate relationship, subordinates with the same gender as their superiors receive higher performance evaluations (Davies 2004).

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

Insights into how personality diversity affects the work group have increased as the study of personality types, profiles, emotional IQ, and deep-level attitudes has grown. Instead of thinking of diversity as simply demographic differences, group managers will need to research, experiment, and analyze the ways in which all of these aspects not only affect the group, but how they can be integrated into a cohesive approach that corresponds to group cohesiveness and successful performance.

Professional Resources[edit | edit source]

The following list includes links to a few consulting firms specializing in personalities:

References[edit | edit source]

Brinkman, Rick, Kirschner, Rick. Dealing with People You Can't Stand: How to Bring Out the Best in People at Their Worst, McGraw-Hill, 2002, 1994.

Butler, Timothy, Waldroop, James. The 12 Bad Habits That Hold Good People Back, Currency/Doubleday, 2000.

Davies, David-Michel, In the Heterogeneous Zone, Fastcompany blog, December 2004.

Dillard-Bullock, Avis R. Identifying and influencing difficult people, The Beam – Bolling AFB –, 2006.

Freedman, Joshua and Todd Everett. “EQ at the Heart of Performance.”

Guy, Sandy. Learn From This ... Living & Working with Difficult Personalities, Australian Good Taste Magazine, February 2001.

Goleman, Daniel. Working with Emotional Intelligence, Bantam Books, 1998.

Harrison, et al. Beyond Relational Demography: Time and the Effects of Surface- and Deep-level Diversity on Work Group Cohesion. Academy of Management Journal, 1998.

Harrison, David A. Time, Teams, and Task Performance: Changing Effects of Surface- and Deep-Level Diversity on Group Functioning.

LaFasto, Frank, Larson, Carl. When Teams Work Best: 6,000 team members tell what it takes to succeed, Sage Publications, 2001

Langdon, Jerry. A Variety of Personalities in the Workplace, USA Today, Gannett News Service, 2006.

Manning, Marilyn. Managing Difficult Situations,, 2004.

Manning, Marilyn. Closing the Communication Gap: Managing Conflicts in High Tech Environments,, 2004.

Steele-Pucci, Cynthia. How to deal with difficult personalities,, 2006.

Scott, Gini Graham. A Survival Guide for Working With Humans: Dealing With Whiners, Back-Stabbers, Know-It-Alls, and Other Difficult People, Amacom Books

Topchik, Gary S. 11 Workplace Personalities and How to Handle Them, Managing Workplace Negativity,,,92rh,00.html, 2006.

Discipline · How Do You Build High-performing Virtual Teams?