The effect of personality type on team performance

How Do Different Personalities Affect Teamwork? | Small Business

By Fraser Sherman Updated July 27, 2020

They say there's no "I" in team, but that's not really true. If six people form a project team, that's six "I's whose personalities affect how well the team works. Understanding how personality types impact team effectiveness helps you do a better job of forming and managing teams.


You recruit team members for their functional skills, but personalities are also important to success. An ideal team has a strong leader, someone to help build team relationships, and at least one person willing to question everyone's assumptions. Good management can forge a mix of personalities into a strong team.

Personality Types Impact Team Effectiveness

When choosing the team to tackle a new project, it's natural to think in terms of the skill set you need, such as sales, IT, marketing and team leader. However, Harvard Business Review (HBR) advises that getting the mix of personalities just right is also important. This doesn't happen automatically. Even a team composed entirely of IT professionals may have different personalities and viewpoints.

HBR says good teams involve a mix of several personality types:

  • Self-confident, energetic staffers who are good at organizing and taking charge
  • Diplomatic, warm individuals who care about other people's feelings and focus on relationships
  • Detail-oriented, conscientious team members who are highly organized and follow the rules
  • Imaginative, curious team members who want to innovate and shake things up
  • Cautious, level-headed, practical thinkers who insist other people prove their ideas

The mix of personality types impacts team effectiveness. A team without any relationship builders won't bond well. A team with too many of that character type may place too high a priority on everyone getting along; too much harmony can mean nobody points out bad ideas and impossible deadlines.

There are many assessments of the right mix of personalities to make up an effective team. According to Inc., good team players share three personality traits: willingness to ask embarrassing questions, willingness to challenge others, and an ability to accept feedback. If the group members all share these personality types, team effectiveness benefits.

The Big Five Personality Traits

Another way to judge the effect of personality on teams is to look at what are called the big five personality traits. Florida Tech describes these five dimensions of human personality, summed up by the acronym OCEAN:

  • Openness to experience. People who score high on this one are open to new ideas and approaches.
  • Conscientiousness.  High-scorers in this attribute are dependable, reliable, organized and self-controlled.
  • Extroversion. Extroverts are social, assertive, socially confident and love interacting with people. Introverts are more introspective; even if they have fun with others, they find it draining.
  • Agreeableness. The more agreeable you are, the more people like to hang with you. High scorers are popular, sympathetic and affectionate.
  • Neuroticism. Scoring high in this one is a bad thing. It suggests someone prone to anxiety and sadness, unable to control their emotions, and probably suffering from low self-esteem.

Conscientious employees are skilled workers as they're continually striving to improve and master their fields. They make strong leaders, but they're not always flexible or creative. Extroverts also make good team leaders, but the trait doesn't lend itself to discipline and organization as conscientiousness does. You might want a team mix that includes an extrovert leader, a conscientious second-in-command, and someone high on agreeableness who can help the individual members bond into something larger.

Functional vs.


For small-business owners or project managers, this isn't a theoretical discussion. The goal of understanding how personality types impact team effectiveness is to make teams more effective. One of the ways to do this, the personality assessment specialists at Hogan Assessments say, is to understand the distinction between functional and psychological team roles.

The functional roles are the members' official duties: project manager, IT expert, researcher, gofer or note taker. The psychological ones are shaped by the members' personality types: the innovator who comes up with fresh ideas, the skeptic who demands proof, the by-the-book thinker who points out the limits of the budget, and the analyst who weighs pros and cons.

A mix of types is essential to an effective team, but the dissimilarity can work against them. An introvert researcher who wants to get everything right before presenting to the team may find the extrovert leader too pushy and demanding. If half the team consists of enthusiastic innovators determined to push the envelope and the other half scores high on caution and following the rulebook, it may be impossible for them to find common ground.

When most of the team share the same personality traits, problems occur. If most of the team values confrontation and ripping each other's ideas to shreds, introverts who need a supportive environment may keep quiet and not participate.

The Team Building Portal advises that the first step is to select potential team members based on their skills and how well they fit the functional roles. Then sift through them for the ones whose agreeableness, openness or conscientiousness make them a good fit. Some employees with valuable skills may not be great team players. When that happens, consider other character traits and aspects.

Managing Teams

Real life is rarely as efficient as management advice articles make it sound. It's entirely possible you won't be able to find a perfect mix of personalities and have to make do with the employees you have, according to Fast Company. Even if the personalities are compatible, you shouldn't sit back and assume they'll coalesce into a functioning team.

Learn the accepted norms of your team members. Some groups may want lots of personal conversation in team meetings while others are strictly business. Encouraging outliers to follow the norms helps them mesh with the team better.

  • Don't let the team split into factions.
  • Make sure dissenting opinions are heard. Keep critiques and criticism focused on the work, not the individual.
  • Encourage civility, even when team members disagree.
  • See that introverts get the chance to speak.
  • See that everyone on the team has a clear understanding of their role.
  • Keep everyone's eyes focused on the finish line. Don't let them forget the end game in the daily rush of details.
  • Don't allow personal gossip, undermining, shaming or bullying. Those are death to the team spirit.
  • See that every member does their share. It's essential everyone feels confident they can count on each other to contribute to the project.

The advantage of this approach is that it doesn't depend as much on having the right mix of personalities. At a small company, you may not have many options for recruiting the team, so being able to steer a "wrong" mix into operating on shared norms is a valuable skill.

How Personality Affects Work Behaviour & Career Success

Understanding one’s personality can help an employee modify behaviour at work, play to strengths, improve on weaknesses, interact with coworkers more effectively and ultimately lead to career success.

According to research by Dr Blaine Landis, a UCL School of Management assistant professor , personality plays a strong role in career success. 

“Personality matters for many reasons. One reason has to do with fit – how well a person’s personality fits the job, the team, and the overall organization. Poor fit is a major cause of conflict and turnover,” Landis said. “Personality will affect whether people are hired, promoted, derailed, will help others, be seen as a leader, and so on.”

Gaining an understanding of different personality traits can help workers grow and managers engage more effectively with their employees.  

Psychology Today defines personality as “a person’s distinctive patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. It derives from a mix of innate dispositions and inclinations along with environmental factors and experiences.” 

The concept encompasses how someone behaves over time instead of during a single instance. Generally, a person’s core personality traits do not change drastically in adulthood.

“Sometimes people get fired because they make a bad decision, but oftentimes it’s what you’re repeatedly like across many situations —i.e., your personality —that drives a lot of the outcomes that we all experience in life,” Landis said.

There are different ways to measure personality, and popular personality assessments used in the workplace include the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, the Caliper Profile and the Big Five Inventory. Landis’ research draws on the big five personality traits.

“Big Five” personality traits


AGREEABLENESS: compassion, respectfulness, trust and the tendency to go along with others.


CONSCIENTIOUSNESS: organisation, productivity, responsibility and the tendency to be careful and hardworking and to follow rule.


EXTROVERSION: sociability and assertiveness


NEUROTICISM: tendencies towards sensitivity, negative emotions, anxiety and depression


OPENNESS TO EXPIERENCE: curiosity, creativity and appreciation for new ideas, values, feelings and behaviours 


“Big Five Personality Traits,” Psychology Today

“Personality Traits,” the Noba Project

Some personality patterns may be problematic if they lead to issues such as poor attendance, tardiness or inattention to details, Landis said. However, it is important for managers to remember that all personality traits carry both positive and negative consequences.

“It may seem that some traits are counterproductive in every job, but every trait has a bright side and a dark side,” Landis said. “Low conscientiousness , for example, is helpful in jobs requiring flexibility and a willingness to improvise rather than following the rules (e.g., jazz musicians). The same employee who lacks attention to detail may be excellent at improvising and coming up with new and novel solutions.”

How does personality affect work performance and career success?

Well-validated personality assessments can predict an individual’s work performance, according to psychologist Dr Robert Hogan, founder and president of Hogan Assessments. Landis’ research also supports that notion.

Not only does personality directly affect employees’ performance ratings, Landis said, but it also shapes employees’ positions in their social networks at work. Those positions help predict job performance, as well. 

“Establishing yourself as someone who people go to for advice is especially important – that’s the position you want to achieve for maximum success,” Landis said.

As employees look to use what they know about their personalities to grow in their careers, the most important of the “big five” traits to focus on are conscientiousness and neuroticism. Highly conscientious, emotionally stable people tend to see more success at work, according to Landis. 

“Some people have a larger challenge than others, but people can exhibit a remarkable ability to change specific behaviors, especially when given insight into how their personality patterns are perceived,” he said.

His research also indicates that being adaptable and adjusting how one interacts with others to fit certain situations – a concept known as “self-monitoring” – also helps fuel workplace success. According to Landis’ research on integrating personality and social networks (PDF, 280 KB), “high self-monitors” are approached more often for friendship, information and advice and are more likely to bridge gaps between disconnected friends. On the other hand, those who are inflexible (“low self-monitors”) may find it challenging to meet the different standards that people expect in various social scenarios.

“Not everyone may appreciate the one style that you present in every situation, ” Landis said. “You may have to present yourself in a slightly different light, engage others in a slightly different way, if that’s not your natural proclivity.”

Taking a personality assessment can provide basic information that helps employees better understand their own inclinations and their colleagues’ or managers’ personalities.

“One insight is just getting a sense of how other people see you,” Landis said. “The areas that you want to focus on are when there is a discrepancy between how you see yourself and how other people see you.”

Some employees may misjudge their negative attributes, while others may underestimate their positive qualities.

“These misperceptions are very consequential for your reputation at work. If you see yourself as assertive and others see you as overbearing, it can perpetuate a pattern of behavior that hurts your credibility,” Landis said. “Similarly, if you see yourself as an insecure person whereas others see you as quiet and humble, that discrepancy is also important to know.

Identifying areas for improvement can help employees begin to make small changes towards improving their work performances.

“Can people change?” Landis said. “Yes, of course, they can. The first step to change is learning a new behaviour that, over time, becomes a part of who we are.”

Tips for better understanding your personality

Landis offered advice for employees to gain insight into their personalities and aim to improve on areas in which their personalities and job responsibilities do not align.


To begin, it’s important to have a baseline understanding of one’s personality for employers and employees. Landis suggests the Big Five Inventory-2 test.


Close colleagues can provide honest insight on how one comes across to others.


Self-observation during meetings and presentations (when appropriate and legal) can help employees find blind spots when interacting in different settings.

Once employees better understand how their personality affects their work habits and relationships, they can use those insights to discuss how they prefer to be managed.

“Everyone is sympathetic to the fact that we all have our preferred way of doing things, which is manifested in our personality ,” Landis said. “ Much in the same way that if I were to tell you that I’m right-handed and that therefore I like to shoot a basketball this way, everyone understands that if you’re extraverted, then you’re going to want to talk a lot and participate in social situations.”

Personality is not an excuse for poor performance, but managers can use what they know about a direct report’s personality to create growth opportunities and get more out of the employee.

Employees and managers can use what they know about their personalities to discuss opportunities for changing the nature of a worker’s tasks, providing team-building opportunities and placing employees in optimal positions that allow them to thrive.  

“It can give you insights to have those conversations, so you can anticipate where they may want to make changes so that everyone is successful,” Landis said.

It is in managers’ best interests to incorporate a range of personalities on their teams. And understanding the nuances of different personalities can help managers bring out the best in their workers. 

Tips for managing different personality types

The Chartered Management Institute and Growth Business offered the following recommendations for managers to get the most out of employees with different personalities.


During recruitment, aim to hire people with varied personality types rather than employees who all fit the same mould.

For example: Employees of different ages, races, genders and backgrounds may offer more diverse perspectives that help your business grow.


Ask direct reports about their learning and communication styles. The more you know about their personalities, the better.

For example: Some personality types may learn best through hands-on experiences while others learn well through memorisation.


Understand your own personality and the personality types that you are likely to favour.

For example: Revealing your own biases can help you avoid only hiring individuals who share your personality type.


Include your employees in determining the personality makeup of the team.

For example: Team-building activities can include taking personality tests and discussing what the results mean for interactions between employees.


Understand how employees engage in and interpret different styles of messaging, and adapt to communicate with them more effectively.

For example: Some employees may prefer face-to-face communication while others communicate more clearly in written messages.


Physical spaces can affect how employees function at work.

For example: Offer a variety of workspaces, such as open seating, private rooms and team-oriented spaces, when safe and appropriate.

Landis recommends the following sources for those looking to learn more about how their personality and habits affect their life at work.

  • Personality test: Big Five Inventory-2 personality test
  • Recommended reading: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • Recommended reading: Atomic Habits by J

Citation for this content: The UCL Online MBA.

Team work: organization and the role of the individual

We are accustomed to evaluating the effectiveness of the team's work by group and personal results, as well as the skills necessary for the development of the company.

Although most companies do not pay attention to the personal guidelines of team members, believing that this will not affect the results of their business, writes Itcp.

In 2016, employees of Google revealed that they had discovered the secret components of a perfect team

The company studied more than 100 teams and found that the main criterion for effective team work is the average level of emotional intelligence and a high level of communication between group members.

The study found that high levels of interpersonal sensitivity, interest and emotional stability led to more cohesive teams and increased social behavior among its members. More effective teams consisted of more cold-blooded, inquisitive and altruistic people. nine0003

The analysis also showed that the personalities of team members influence collaboration, shared cognition, information sharing, and overall team performance.

In other words, who you are affects how you behave and interact with other people, so team members' personalities act like different functions of the same organism.

Research has found that team roles are largely a product of people's personalities. Based on the results of the analysis, the researchers propose the following classification:

Results oriented. Team members who organize work and take responsibility tend to be socially assertive, competitive and energetic.

Relationship oriented. Team members who are relationship-focused, attuned to other people's feelings, build a cohesiveness that is based on warm and diplomatic relations.

Followers of processes and rules. Team members who pay attention to details, processes, and rules are more likely to be reliable, organized, and conscientious. nine0003

Innovators and disruptive thinkers. Team members who are innovative, anticipate problems, and determine when the team needs to change tend to be creative, interesting, and open to learning.

Pragmatic. Team members who are practical, solid contenders for ideas and theories tend to be prudent, emotionally stable, and even-tempered.

By understanding what types are present in our team, we can know in advance which tasks will succeed and which may not be possible to perform. If our teams solve different problems, then the formation of a balance of personalities can be a key task for the business. nine0003

For example, if no one in a team is results-oriented, it will be difficult for that team to move forward. But if all team members focus only on the result, this can lead to fierce competition within the team and make effective team interaction impossible.

Or another example - if there are no relationship-oriented people in the team, the team will spend a lot of time building relationships within, which can affect efficiency and results. nine0003

Thus, the assessment of each potential team member can show how a person can interact and achieve results while working in a team. Their value is manifested as a result of collective efforts, when people understand the effectiveness of collective work and achieve high results that they could not achieve on their own.

Successful teams themselves always strive not only for a balance of skills, but also for a balance of personalities in their composition.

See also:

Read more: how the human psyche works.

5 models of effective team interaction / Sudo Null IT News

The choice of models and approaches to improve team performance is an eternal headache for product managers, team leads, business owners, HR, scientists and psychologists.

Any approach will always have supporters and opponents. Some of the popular models are focused on communication strategy, some are more related to corporate culture and the individual characteristics and talents of each team member. What factors help to correctly determine the effectiveness of teamwork? nine0003

Any effective team consists of individuals who have the skills necessary to achieve individual and group goals.

It is extremely important that each specialist in an effective team be able to translate their knowledge and skills to the whole group. In a successful team, they know exactly about competent communication, active listening, the importance of feedback and timely response to critical moments.

All members of an effective team are accountable for achieving the goals and global strategy of the company and are motivated to succeed in business. They trust each other and support each other. nine0003

It would seem that everything is built on professionalism and a simple human attitude towards each other. Why then do we need some models and techniques to increase efficiency?

All of them were designed to help you quickly and accurately find out which relationship models, strategies, tools should be applied in the case of a particular team for a particular business.

Perhaps some scientific approaches and author's models will help to “shed light” on stagnant problems within the team and unlock its potential faster. nine0003

Tuckman Model

The model is useful to all members of teams of any size from any industry.
Bruce Tuckman described his theory in 1965. The author identified four stages of team development:

  • formation
  • conflict
  • normalizing
  • executive

All these step-by-step stages are necessary for a team if it is to grow, develop and solve problems and find better solutions. nine0003


This organizational stage is dedicated to team building; during this time, conflict situations are deliberately avoided and each team member focuses on performing routine tasks. In the process of forming a team, it is important to accumulate information and impressions.

Team members get to know each other, meet, explore opportunities and requirements, agree on common goals and strategies, and begin to implement them.

This stage is very important because the participants get to know each other, and for the manager this is a great chance to understand who prefers to work and how: independently or in a group, how they cope with the load, etc. nine0003

Conflict stage or conflict of interest (Storming)

Having formed into a single group, its members submit their ideas for discussion.
The most experienced team members usually determine if the team is ready to move on. Some focus on the little things to avoid bigger issues later on. This stage is necessary for the growth of the team.

Sometimes it can even be very “painful”, so it is important to pay attention to the patient attitude towards the process and tolerance. During Storming, team leaders should help participants “smooth out” contentious situations and possible conflicts and set an example with professional behavior. nine0003

Norming stage

After discussing the ideas, the team proceeds to agree on a general plan. Not all ideas will be implemented, so some will have to give up their own initiatives in order to act as a team.

All members of a cohesive group are willing to work towards a common goal. Everyone is ready to compromise, any hostility disappears.


By this stage, the team can already fully function and achieve results, find ways to do the job smoothly and efficiently without undue confrontation. nine0073 All group members are motivated, competent and able to make decisions independently. The leader's mission is to evaluate team performance, provide timely feedback, and align members' personal aspirations.

Under certain circumstances, even the highest performing teams can temporarily revert to the early stages of development.

In 1977, Tuckman, together with Mary Ann Jensen, added the fifth stage to the team development model - stage of separation (adjourning).

The stage symbolizes the achievement of the set goals and objectives and, as a result, the decline in the activity of the group. The joint activity of the team is terminated.

Katzenbach and Smith model

The authors of this model, John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, described their approach in 1993 after studying many teams in different companies and industries. They defined the team as a small group of people with diverse skills, committed to common goals and a single strategy of behavior. The basics of the model were brought together in the book "The Wisdom of Teams". nine0073 The authors distinguish between types of teams according to their development:

  • Working group , where the interaction of participants is carried out to exchange information and experience.
  • Pseudo-command in which its members can increase the efficiency of work, but do not make any effort to do so.
  • A potential team that understands the common goal and its necessity and tries to develop effective ways of cooperation. nine0093
  • The true team is made up of members who have complementary skills and abilities. They are aware of common goals and objectives and work together on them.
  • A highly effective team with the characteristics of a real group and facilitating the individual development of its members. Her results usually exceed expectations.

The authors visualized the model of effective teams using a triangular diagram. nine0073 There are three benchmarks that teams measure up to:

  • collective products and achievements
  • work results
  • individual height

Teamwork must be subject to the following principles:

  • selection of team members according to their skills, abilities and abilities
  • determination of the objectives of joint activities and rules of conduct
  • team members awareness of their rights
  • continuous interaction in the team, the allocation of the necessary time for communication
  • feedback, rewards and recognition.

Team Performance Model T7

The T7 model was also described in the 90s of the last century. Its authors tried to understand and study what factors affect the effectiveness of the team. According to them, there are 7 such factors - five internal and two external. They all start with the letter "T":

  • Thrust (Emphasis) - focus on the essence. This is a common desire for what should be accomplished by the team.
  • Trust (Trust) to each other within the team.
  • Talent (Talent) - the ability of team members.
  • Team Skills (Team skills) - the ability to work effectively and productively as a team.
  • Task Skills (Ability to solve problems) - the successful completion of the tasks assigned to the team. nine0093

External factors:

  • Team Leader Fit (leader fit) - the degree to which the leader satisfies the needs of team members.
  • Team Support (Team support from the company) - the extent to which the management of the company allows the team to express themselves.

Each of the above factors of this model can be detailed.

For a team to perform well, all five internal factors must be present. nine0003

Model Lencioni

The model proposed by Patrick Lencioni is also called the 5 Team Dysfunctions. The book of the same name was published in 2005.

By studying this model, you will learn about the effectiveness of the working group based on what causes dysfunctions, misunderstandings and conflicts within the group.

According to the author, all commands have the potential to be dysfunctional. The model includes 5 main dysfunctions of any team: lack of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of responsibility, inattention to results. nine0003

  • Lack of trust occurs when team members show vulnerability and are unwilling to admit their mistakes and weaknesses. They don't ask for help.
  • Fear of conflicts . Without trust, it is impossible to fully communicate. In such cases, internal conflicts can turn into veiled discussions and closed discussions.
  • Lack of Commitment - Without constructive discussion of conflicts, it is difficult for everyone on the team to contribute to a solution. There is ambiguity. nine0093
  • Avoiding Liability . People don't want to hold others accountable for their work.
  • Inattention to results . If group members do not take responsibility, they tend to put their personal needs ahead of team goals. If the team has lost sight of the need to achieve results, the overall focus is lost.

The Lencioni model is visualized as a pyramid: you solve each dysfunction one by one from the bottom up. nine0003

LaFasto and Larson model

The model was originally called the Five Dynamic Characteristics of Collaboration and Teamwork. Its authors, Frank LaFasto and Carl Larson, described their considerations in 2001 by analyzing the results of a survey conducted among representatives of 600 teams from various industries and fields.

Survey participants answered a simple question “What is an effective team?” As a result, the authors came up with and described a model consisting of five levels or components, each of which increases the likelihood of efficiency gains: