Every IT team includes different personalities. But how do you motivate a diverse group and get them focused on the same goal? Here are some tips for understanding different personality types and melding them into a productive team.

Take stock of personality types
How do you know in advance which employees will be good team players and which won’t? Who will be people-oriented and who won’t? Who will challenge authority and who won’t?

Like most CIOs, Greg Levinsky, CIO for GE Appliances, spends a lot of time hiring the right people and then working closely with them to retain them. He often has new staff take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test and then makes sure his motivational programs include a variety of options to cover everyone’s different style. “You have to put a lot of time into people,” Levinsky says. “If you get the right people, keep your standards high, and motivate them, all the rest of the good things will happen.”

David E. Rye, author of 1,001 Ways to Inspire Your Organization, Your Team and Yourself , takes the Myers-Briggs results one step further and relabels the four personality inventory categories to help you identify employees’ personality types. Short of requiring a personality inventory such as The Keirsey Temperament Sorter II on each of your staff members, you can probably recognize your employees by reviewing the following descriptions of these four personality types:

  • Power players
  • Team players
  • Diplomatic players
  • Party players

Power players
Power players like to have things their own way, so they definitely have issues with authoritarian bosses. They like to work—are workaholics, in fact—and can be highly productive. More than anything, they want respect and recognition. Here are more characteristics of power players:

  • Personal: They are independent, career-oriented, and are often divorced or in the process of getting a divorce. They love daring sports and large personal projects.
  • Communication: Power players are opinionated and love to debate issues. They believe their opinions are simply a statement of fact, which makes them fixed in their thinking and behavior.
  • Interpersonal relationships: They are unmoved by others’ feelings and especially by emotional outbursts. They have little sympathy for anyone who impedes progress. They have bossy personalities, and they enjoy ordering people around. They are not easily intimidated, even by management, and become frustrated when they can’t control a situation. They become aggressive when challenged.
  • What they want: They want respect for their practical and logical minds. They measure success by their accomplishments and the heft of their paychecks.
  • Strengths: Power players are intelligent and creative, are good decision makers, and have excellent verbal (though not personable) communication skills. They set precise completion dates for goals, enjoy leadership positions, actively seek challenging assignments, and are tenacious, disciplined, and productive.

Assignments for power players

  • Have seemingly impossible tasks? Give it to your power players. Have business ventures to develop? Pick your power players. Have a people-sensitive assignment? Don’t give it to your power players!
  • How to motivate power players

    • Give them challenging work that they like to do.
    • Reward them with bonuses and recognition.
    • Appeal to their desire to be productive.
    • Give them sequential, logical instructions.
    • Appeal to their logical, rather than emotional, side.
    • Be direct in communicating with them.
    • Avoid talking about their failures.

    Principles of motivation

    Knowing your employees’ personality types goes a long way toward helping you motivate them. According to Rye, remember these basic principles:

    • People have reasons for their actions. Their goals and objectives lead them to make specific choices.
    • People act to gain something they believe is good for them.
    • People have to believe their goals are attainable, or they won’t make the effort to go after them.
    • The value of a goal can change when unknown benefits are undesirable (such as having to relocate after getting a promotion).
    • A manager’s motivation plays a major role in helping employees reach their goals.

    Team players
    Team players have a strong sense of integrity and seek to make others happy. They are the first to volunteer for extra work. They readily admit to their mistakes and look for ways to correct them. They want to be thanked and appreciated. Additional characteristics include:

    • Personal: Creativity and integrity are important to them. They will not cheat to win. They have steady, predictable natures, and they are self-confident. Still, they are subject to emotional trauma and depression. They can be perfectionists and worry too much. They usually have difficulty with too much stress. They become easily discouraged if they fail to meet goals.
    • Communication: They often base their opinions on emotion and moral principle rather than logic. They can make logical strategic decisions, even though they are heavily influenced by their emotions. But sometimes they can become vague and get their priorities confused. They often erroneously assume others think the way they do and, therefore, know what they want.
    • Interpersonal relationships: Team players have committed relationships and are loyal to people they trust. Like the power players, they are highly opinionated. They value self-discipline. They will do anything for friends and loved ones, coworkers, and revered bosses. They won’t negotiate with people they don’t like or respect.
    • What they want:Team players want to be heard and will often reveal their inadequacies in order to be understood; but they’ll get upset if you’re sarcastic about their faults. They like to be recognized and rewarded. They like job security.
    • Strengths: Team players’ strengths include giving their all to their work, accepting corporate policies, procedures, and authority, having a strong work ethic, listening to others before giving their own opinions, and serving as peacekeepers. They are high achievers with a deep sense of purpose, discipline, good follow-through, and they are emotionally solid. They are analytical, receptive to others’ ideas, self-sacrificing, and sensitive. They do nice things for others and will choose personal relationships over career moves, if necessary.

    Assignments for team players
    Give team players serious problems to solve. Let them be creative. These personality types want complex projects that refine their talents. Limit the risk involved in any assignment.

    How to motivate team players

    • Figure out what their expectations are and how those can best be met.
    • Dispel unrealistic expectations.
    • Try not to offend them. They can become overly sensitive, irrational, and unforgiving.
    • Give them plaques and other recognition.
    • Reinforce their need for security.
    • Be sensitive and sincere.
    • Promote their creativity.
    • Avoid demanding immediate action.
    • Earn their trust and respect.

    We’d love to hear from you!

    Do you have stories about power players and team players to share with us? Post a comment below. If you have an idea for a great article, please send us an e-mail.