Jackie and Tom are members of a software development team. The team is focused on a new application that is to be rolled out next month. Jackie is the senior member and feels responsible for the team’s reputation. She believes the current version doesn’t have enough bells and whistles. Tom believes their reputation will be more affected by the number of bugs still in the software, and thinks they should eliminate those before adding new features.
If you were Jackie, which of the following would you say to Tom?
- "Tom, if you brainstorm with me, we’ll be able to quickly figure out the best features to add."
- "Tom, how about if you create a list of the bugs and the approximate time it will take to fix each one?"
The best response is 2. Tom is a Systematic style, which you can tell by his attention to what is wrong rather than what is right. Brainstorming with Tom is not likely to generate the ideas that Jackie is looking for, while giving Tom the role of investigator and implementer will play to his skills.
So what does this mean for your team? Your own experience tells you that team members take on different roles -- some are officially assigned while others are informal. A high-performing team takes advantage of each team member’s style strengths while minimizing their weaknesses.
There are eight essential team member roles:
- Initiator: Gets important discussion going; great at brainstorming. Spirited style team members are excellent in this role. Systematic style team members are not.
- Implementer: Follows through once decisions have been made. Systematic style team members are a good match for this role while Spirited style team members are not.
- Investigator: Gathers information and data. Systematic style team members thrive in this role while Spirited style team members do not.
- Communicator: Keeps everyone in the loop. Considerate style team members are excellent in this role. Direct style team members are not.
- Organizer: Assigns roles and responsibilities. Direct style team members are a good match for this role; however, Considerate style team members are not.
- Encourager: Maintains motivation and enthusiasm among team members. Spirited style team members thrive in this role but this is not a strength of Systematic style team members.
- Harmonizer: Maintains harmony and minimizes conflict among team members. Considerate style team members are made for this role but Direct style team members are not a good fit.
- Evaluator: Monitors progress and determines accomplishment. Direct style team members are excellent in this role. Considerate style team members are not.
Each style is a valuable contributor to a team. The key is getting people with different styles to work together productively so that each collectively strengthens the whole.