Working well with your colleagues, manager, boss or CEO is essential to succeed in today's collaborative work environment. Now more than ever, teamwork is becoming the currency for great work.
The problem, however, is that more often than not relationship building skills are not taught in school. This interpersonal awareness is unfortunately not a core requirement to graduate, even though the future of work requires this knowledge.
Even further, the key to knowing how you relate to others lies in a deep understanding of who you are at baseline--another type of awareness that is not emphasized in the traditional educational setting.
That's why whenever I work with a new client, I have them take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to assess their personality along four major dichotomies: extraversion and introversion, sensing and intuition (creator vs. operator), thinking and feeling, and judging and perceiving (structured vs. non-structured).
I have found that these four traits map perfectly to some of the biggest challenges that come from working with a diverse group of people. If you want to work well with others, pay close attention to your Myers-Briggs personality types, as well as the types of others.
Here are some potential challenges to anticipate, as well as some strategic solutions:
1. Introvert or Extrovert
Potential Challenges: Extroverts think by talking and often will want to think through ideas with people. Introverts prefer to speak about an idea once they have had the time to think through things on their own. This can cause conflict when each type is not aware of each other.
Potential Solutions: Make a game plan when it comes to meetings and collaborative projects. Propose your approach, and make sure everyone else is comfortable with that course of action. For instance, you might say: "I would like to think through this idea by talking it out or brainstorming, are you up for that?" or "I would prefer to take this away on my own, then come back to you with some solutions once I have thought it through."
2. Creator or operator
Potential Challenges: Creators love to optimize and improve everything. They are eager to re-think systems and make them even better. Creators like to think of new ideas. Operators, on the other hand, prefer to stick with what works; if it's not broken, why change? Operators are more comfortable with getting into a project that has a predetermined path and plugging into it, while creators prefer to create everything on their own and throw rules or tradition aside.
Potential Solutions: Try to be as in tune as possible about who in your team is a creator and who is an operator. With these differences, it can be painful for each type to be doing work that requires the opposite of their natural tendency. Use this knowledge to better delegate tasks and assign projects to the right people.
3. Thinker or Feeler
Potential Challenges: This can be a big difference in the workplace because thinkers are numbers-driven and feelers are emotionally driven. Feelers tend to be more intuitive, while thinkers are extremely rational and want to explain their decisions with facts.
Potential Solutions: Feelers can typically be better people managers because they operate in the world of emotions. Thinkers are often more useful when it comes to deep analysis that is numbers-driven. Both types complement each other if they can learn to respect the other's perspective.
4. Structured or Non-structured
Potential Challenges: Most organizations lean towards being more structured, so those who don't live and die for planning and spreadsheets may struggle to be understood. Often times, non-structured people are more creative and have a method to their thinking--it just may not be as obvious. To a non-structured person, detailed planning can prevent creative thinking and thwart spontaneity. Just as a sense of unstructured freedom is important for some, structured people need that sense of planning, organization, and protocol in order to get things done.
Potential Solutions: This one area can cause a lot of conflict, and it's important to know which type you are before joining an organization. Find a culture that melds well with your type. If you are already working with this conflict, don't judge. Allow each person to communicate their thinking behind their structure or lack of structure and try to find a middle ground. Unfortunately, in the business world, those who are unstructured are often outnumbered by those who are, and the nature of business is structure. Make sure if you are non-structured that you don't allow your confidence to dwindle in a structured environment and find a job that allows you to use your unstructured genius in a meaningful way.