I remember when I first moved into recruitment, many moons ago, my organisation hired a “certain” personality style in most of their consultants. Back in the day we used MyersBriggs Type Indicator tests and, without a doubt the majority of recruitment consultants had an ESTJ personality profile.

The ESTJ stands for Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking and Judging. According to www.truity.com ESTJs are hardworking traditionalists, eager to take charge in organizing projects and people. Orderly, rule-abiding, and conscientious, ESTJs like to get things done, and tend to go about projects in a systematic, methodical way. All facets were what we were looking for. Getting things done but using systems and methods.

Yes, it was cookie cutter personalities that came together. The amazing thing was we were all very similar however in our similarity came conflict.

For true team harmony and to maximise team performance, diversity is key. You’ve heard the saying “too many chiefs”. In other teams all team members can be very inclusive yet no-one takes the lead. A lot of this comes down to personality.

Knowing your personality can play a great role in understanding your fellow team members and then using your personality traits to both contribute to your team.

Since MyersBriggs many organisations move into DISC profiling – DISC is a predominantly four quadrant profile which categorises individuals as either Dominant, Influencing, Steady or Compliant and there is even more sophisticated brainmapping such as PRISM Brain Mapping – which is a sophisticated, online, neuroscience-based instrument specifically designed to identify the behavioural preferences that directly relate to personal relationships and work performance.

I would highly recommend you do some tests to start to get to know yours and your team members. The information gleaned is powerful. Usually for the individual they have the “aha” moment of, “That’s exactly me!” or realising “Now I know why I do it that way.”

Take this one step further with team members then it equally dawns on team members, that’s why you behave the way you do!

In addition to an understanding, from understanding comes adaptation to each others styles.

Often certain personalities respond to certain communication styles while others grate on an individual.

A “Dominant” style wants bullet points and executive summaries.

While a “Compliant” seeks thoroughness so they have the detail and can cross check in their own thinking.

Steady and Influencer styles preferred to be liked than right whereas dominants will fight to be right – regardless of the fall out on an interpersonal level.

A little bit of knowledge in this space can be dangerous yet also highly beneficial.

By being aware of personalities you can communicate appropriately with your team members in a style they will respond to. With all members having such awareness they may not resonate perfectly with those on the other end of the spectrum to themselves but they can appreciate while that person is the way they are.

My key take homes for the uninitiated:

  1. Get to know yourself – understand your own personality, what you prefer and how you prefer to work
  2. Get to know your team mates’ personalities – cross check and get validation on the way they work and what communication and interaction style they prefer
  3. Practice differing approaches and look at responses
  4. Review and Refine

Teams that work well may inherently have this diversity of personality traits across team members. However, we’ve been all in those teams where there has been friction and could well be the “personality clash” is real and present. Often it stems from individuals just not knowing how to deal with each other and different personalities.

Harvest Human Resources has a range of personality profiling tools and specialists who can guide teams towards high performance stemming from understanding personalities, acceptance of various traits and modifying behaviours towards best outcomes.


Article written by Maree Herath, Director Harvest Human Resources and Personality and Psychometric Profiling Advocate

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