The Importance of Understanding Personalities for Project Managers

PersonalityThere are several things that differentiate people and personality is one of them. Working together with other people in a team entails interactions and coping with different personalities, but it is in leading such a team that the true value of understanding different personalities can be appreciated.

Personality in people is basically the dynamic set of traits that each person possesses, which uniquely influence their emotions, cognitions, motivations, environment and behavior in various situations. There are many real life consequences of personality differences such that a whole branch in psychology has been set aside just for it.

Before you begin to understand the personalities of your team though, you may have to understand your own personality first. Everyone has their type of personality and understanding yours first is will give you the right footing as you endeavor to learn and understand that of others. There are ways to test and identify personalities which can give you a fairly good idea of whom you have in your team.

Understanding the different personalities within your team, including their different opinions, work ethics, approaches to life and other preferences, will not only be important to you as their leader, but it will also give you an upper hand when it comes to managing your team and delivering on the different project goals.

Understanding personalities for project managers will therefore help in the following aspects:

1. Better Communication

You will always communicate better with people who can understand what you are saying and vice versa, but language itself is never the only barrier to proper communication. A person’s personality can get in the way of a simple conversation, resulting in miscommunication or no communication at all.

Some people don’t like it when they are criticized, and will therefore tend to take things said too seriously. Others like to be in charge and thus will likely want to control a conversation. Knowing such things about your team will certainly help you in striking a balance that will ensure information gets across.

Also, when you listen to what is being said by a person in the knowledge that the harsh words they use are not necessarily meant as acts of hostility but merely the products of their personality, you will be in a better position to get their message which is embedded in their ‘strange’ way of speaking.

In the same breath, that person who says very little on account of personality will not be condemned as a joy-rider.

2. Helping You Adopt an Appropriate Leadership Style

There are different leadership styles. Each style has its own merits and demerits, which will all influence how you deal with different projects. Developing several leadership styles puts a manager in a much better position to handle the various projects and the people involved. Leadership styles are not written in stone, and using only one style for every situation, project or team is akin to having one pair of shoes for all occasions.

As an effective project manager, you will realize that understanding the different personalities within your team will give you a better edge in its management; but most importantly give you foresight in choosing the best leadership style to use under different situations. You may have to switch from a democratic style of leadership once you realize that your team has a sluggish and less enthusiastic personality that will necessitate being pushed. You will find that the autocratic style of leadership suits such a team best.

3. Helping You Foster Good Relationships

Certain personalities are inherent and difficult to change or alter. Depending on the kind of personalities you find in your team or employees, you will certainly be in a better position to tune your management style to cater for each. You will also know how to group them in ways that will see them cope best with each other for maximum productivity.

Understanding their personalities also lets you know what motivates each one of them, and therefore you will always know which buttons to push to get them going and giving their best. Some are motivated by recognition, positions of authority or just more money; with such knowledge, you will not only enhance good relationship among your team members but also their relationship with you.

4. Makes it Easy for You to Appreciate and Utilize Diversities

Contrary to what you might think that people with similar characteristics will get along well, putting those members of your team that have overly similar personalities in the same groups or assigning them the same project tasks will often not end well. There has to be a mix of personalities, and a right one for that matter if your team members are to work together productively.

Take for instance a situation where you have three people working together on a certain task that requires decision making, and each of them has a dominant personality. The task will probably stall as each of them competes to have their idea implemented.

With such an understanding, you will know that when you want a certain task to move along quickly, you should put people with complimenting personalities together such that there will be virtually no competition among them.

5. Better Conflict Resolution

Understanding the personalities of the people within your team, including yours, will to a great extent help in conflict management. People with personalities that come off as domineering and authoritative almost always find themselves in conflicting situations with others who feel undermined and disrespected by that kind of attitude.

Knowing that a certain member of your team is like that puts you in a better position when resolving issues as they arise.

Managing a team has its challenges, especially when it involves tasking projects and tight deadlines. Conflicts tend to arise easily under such situations, and as a project manager, it is important that you to resolve them quickly because that is the only way to ensure that your team remains united and functional.

Final Word

Take some time to understand the different personality types of each of your team members. It will help you work better as a team both in the short and long-term.

Image: Vic


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