HR Insights

Working Well with Others: How to Build an Effective Team

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January 15, 2016
The average person spends over 90,000 hours at work throughout their lifetime. This means they’re spending a lot of time with co-workers: brainstorming ideas, creating brilliant strategies, and investing their energy in projects—ultimately working to make your company better. However, without the right team, your work environment can feel more like a boxing match than a place of business.

The 2008 CCP Global Human Capital Report showed that U.S. employees spent nearly 3 hours a week resolving internal conflicts, equating to $359 billion wasted dollars. That’s an alarming amount of money down the drain.

While occasional conflict is unavoidable (after all, we are human), prolonged quarrels or petty squabbles can cost you money and make other employees uncomfortable.

Here are a few things to consider when building a team that works well together, and maturely handles conflict as it comes.

Test Current and Potential Employees

You can’t always tell everything about a person from the interview process. Some traits come out much further down the road. But there are ways to learn more about your employees sooner than later.

The DISC test, which is a tool that analyzes a person’s behaviors in relation to work, categorizes people into four different classifications: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. The point of the test is to show who in your office has which personality, and how the groups work best with one another.

For example, if someone is predominantly a D, or dominant personality, they tend to be blunt, assertive, and have little patience. However someone who is an I, or influential, tends to be more optimistic, enthusiastic, and eccentric.

On paper, these two personalities are almost polar opposites: one can be harsh and commandeering, while the other can be sensitive and crave approval. However, once you know your employees’ personality traits, you can figure out how they can work best together. D’s can learn how to speak in a softer manner, while I’s can learn to be more straightforward. Additionally, the DISC test provides thorough explanations of each personality, guiding you toward a respectful, diverse, and productive team.

Communication is Key

In an article published by the Harvard Business Review, research conducted by the MIT Human Dynamics Laboratory showed that teams who communicated more freely and casually outside of work were the most successful. Try scheduling breaks for employees at the same time so they are able to socialize and interact outside of their typical workspace. Encourage weekly team lunches or take an afternoon off for a team outing like a local sporting event or museum trip. Bring in donuts and have your team take an a.m. breather—anything to encourage interaction and organic communication.

Opposites Attract

At first glance, the introverts and extroverts of the office are nothing alike—and that’s a good thing.

Introverts tend to be quieter, calmer, and more thoughtful, while extroverts are energetic, outgoing, and spontaneous—all characteristics you need on your team. Someone needs to be the leader, the outspoken conversation starter, the one who drives thought and provokes ideas. Then there are the careful thinkers, the ones who analyze outcomes, solve problems, and review all scenarios before coming to a decision. The best work occurs when there are multiple opinions and viewpoints involved, which is exactly what these two personalities can offer.

When putting together a new team, or adding to an existing one, your job as an employer is to first determine which personality type best fits the position you are looking to fill. From there, building a balanced team is all about figuring out who your employees are and how their personas will harmonize best.