Personality-typing Tool to Improve Team-Building



By Dr. Ken Smith

Honolulu, Hawaii



This article presents a rapid ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) personality-typing methodology to supplement an organization’s approach for assessing individuals as potential project managers and team members; as well as enhancing the ability of team leaders to identify the working-style proclivities of existing team members, in order to manage them more effectively.

No matter what the nature of a project may be, it takes effective teamwork to bring it to fruition; and aphorisms — such as “There is no “I” in Team” – abound, reaffirming that projects are best planned and implemented through collective efforts, rather than by individuals.  Nevertheless, teams are comprised of unique individuals; and despite possessing requisite knowledge and skillsets in common, people differ widely from one another.  Each individual brings to the team unique pre-dispositions, personality traits, attitudes and perspectives as well as sets of strengths and weaknesses forged from prior experiences.  Consequently, melding disparate individuals into an effective working team requires individuals who can size up other people and interact easily with them, rather than product-oriented leader-managers.

Although executives and Human Resource administrators in large organizations give lip service to the team approach for managing and implementing projects, they often unwittingly undermine this premise on two fronts.  First, they prioritize the organization’s functional structure and management over that of the project.  Assigning individuals concurrently to multiple teams and fragmenting & dispersing team members to specialty silos throughout the organization under functional managers violates the ‘one master’ chain-of-command,[1] relegating the team leaders to secondary ‘follow-up coordinating-management’ roles, as well as having to compete with other managers for the shared resources.  Team cohesiveness is also hampered by the lack of propinquity to other team members.  [This issue is worthy of a separate discussion.]

The second self-defeating issue is that organizations tend to assign or promote their best technical professionals to project managerial positions — or hire new managers — based on their technical credentials, rather than people-managerial competence.  Unfortunately, many technical individuals appointed to managerial positions become martinet micromanagers, expecting everyone else to be as eager and industrious as themselves.  When others fall short, these managers pick up the slack, striving to retain their workaholic image as ‘triple threats,’ ascribing to the adage If you want it done right you have to do it yourself.Immersing themselves in everything in this mode, such individuals eventually succumb to Peter Principle mediocracy and crash when confronted with unfamiliar situations; or burn out in the process.

This is not to say that technical professionals cannot be good managers; but rather that people-management requires different skills from subject-matter know-how, and personality talents with which all are not equally endowed.  Being outstanding in one area may have warranted recognition of an individual and possible appointment to a leadership/management position, but the role also incurs new burdens he/she may be less suited or prepared to handle.

Instead of valiantly tackling everything themselves when assuming the role of project manager / team leader, they need to accept they are now primarily responsible for managing other people.  Talents are unequally distributed, and individual possession of pertinent characteristics to manage &/or work in a team mode are attributes to be identified, recognized and exploited.  In order to accomplish the organization’s objectives, team leaders need to relinquish their prior preeminent technical role and delegate those — and related — duties to other team members, while concurrently assuming new managerial responsibilities.


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How to cite this article: Smith, K. F. (2020).  Personality-typing Tool to Improve Team-Building, PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue XI, November.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pmwj99-Nov2020-Smith-personality-typing-and-team-building.pdf



About the Author

Dr. Kenneth Smith

Honolulu, Hawaii


Dr. Kenneth F. Smith was a project management consultant for ADB, the World Bank, and USAID for decades. He earned his DPA (Doctor of Public Administration) from the George Mason University (GMU) in Virginia and his MS from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT Systems Analysis Fellow, Center for Advanced Engineering Study). A long-time member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and IPMA-USA, Dr. Smith is a Certified Project Management Professional (PMP®) and a member of the PMI®-Honolulu Chapter.

Ken’s book — Project Management PRAXIS (available from Amazon) — includes many other innovative project management tools & techniques; and describes a “Toolkit” of related templates available directly from him at kenfsmith@aol.com.

To view other works by Kenneth Smith, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/dr-kenneth-smith/

[1]No one can serve two masters: Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24