As project managers or team leads, we should quickly get to know what our team members are good at, and what they are not. Their characteristics and working styles may vary, but each will have his or her own way of getting things done. There will definitely be environments in which they excel, and other situations that they would love to run away from.
It is interesting that your industry or organizational function doesn’t really matter; patterns will emerge based on people’s interests and styles. But are you really taking full advantage of your team members’ individual strengths? If not, you should be.
Many behavioural, working style and personality-type tests that have been developed to attempt to categorize personnel (MBTI, DISC, EQ, etc.). I have taken many of them over the years, sometimes for work, and sometimes out of curiosity. I like to see how accurate they really are, and if I’ve really changed anything over time. I’ve found some that are quite amazing, even with the limited number of questions asked.
I’ll mention three of my favourites here, since each of them provide information after on how you might go about shifting in the direction you would prefer—as well as how you might recognize patterns in others:
1. The Gautrey Influence Profiler gives you an indication of the ways in which you influence people and gives some tips on how you might improve your influencing and power skills.
2. The Carson Tate Productivity Assessment indicates your preferences for managing work, the way you think and process information, and more.
3. Predictable Success Leadership Style Assessment indicates your preferred leadership style. It has some similarities as the productivity assessment when you look at the details, but gives some fresh perspectives, too.
What all of these really come down to is understanding yourself and understanding your team members. What makes them tick? What does their individual knowledge and experience contribute to the team? When do they shine? And how can you create the conditions, or assign roles and responsibilities, to bring out the best of each of them for the greater success?
I know what I am good at, and what I enjoy: Assessing a complex process and picking at where there might be weak spots or risks, gaps to fill or redundancies that can be cut. Compiling together random data, thoughts or ideas, comparing and correlating information, and then discovering patterns or making them come together in a nice flow (as in story or report writing!).
I do this with meetings, too—start a dialogue, and then sit back to just listen and take notes. Maybe occasionally add a comment to help direct the discussion or poke another stream of thought in there—then relay back to everyone the themes, differences and synergies that have arisen. It’s amazing how much people talk over each other, or otherwise contribute to each other’s ideas without even realizing it!
What do you know you are good at, and what do you enjoy? Have you talked with your superiors about it so you might excel in your role? Have you asked your direct reports what they know and like? Or are you missing some opportunities for a great and productive team?