How well do you know the people who work for you? I don’t mean knowing what TV shows they watch, or remembering the names of all the spouses and partners. I mean really knowing them—understanding how their minds work, what motivates them, what makes them tick.
See, any strong team is the combination of disparate personalities, aligned to a common goal. And to get the best out of your team, you need to know what those different personalities are, and how to lead each one.
Easier said than done? Not necessarily.
Know the Types
A good starting place is to simply know the different personality types you’re working with. Personality profiles like the Myers-Brigg can work quite well. Consider having all your team members take this test, and then consider adding it to the onboarding process.
Make sure you take the test yourself. Self-knowledge is a critical first step toward understanding and effectively managing the other personality types on your team.
Know the Team
Once you have a good sense of the different personality types, you can have a better sense of your team make-up. Which employees are more introverted, and which are more extroverted? Which personalities are really simpatico, and which tend to clash?
Your team members are like puzzle pieces, and part of your job as a leader is figuring out how they fit together in a way that helps everyone do their best work.
Know the Needs
I’d also recommend that you actually sit down with your team members, individually, and ask them what they need to do good work. Often, the best approach is directness—simply pick their brains and let them know you want to provide them the most supportive work environment possible.
Does one employee want more structure? Does another employee need more autonomy? Those are the kinds of things you can figure out simply by raising the question. But I’ll offer one caveat here: As you ask your employees what they need, you may receive some tough feedback, or realize that you haven’t always led the way you should. That’s okay! Accept the feedback as a chance to improve your leadership style and your team dynamics.