Handling Various Personalities

The beginning of this chapter identified some of the key personality types that are probably on your project team. Now you need to figure out how to handle them effectively. Being an effective project leader requires that you hone your people skills, which means being able to work comfortably with various types of personalities. Determine the degree of handholding, praise, or self-reliance each team member requires, and work with them accordingly. Many team members will work best if left alone to complete their tasks. Others will require constant affirmation or direction. In time, you'll learn which method produces the best results from the individuals. Be careful not to be misunderstood yourself. You don't want to appear to be favoring one individual over another.

As a leader, you may need to spend more time with a team member who simply requires closer attention because he or she has less confidence in his or her abilities. Someone else, who you believe works well on her own, may misread the attention you are giving to another team member and feel that you are showing favoritism. Just because someone works better without constant supervision doesn't mean there is no need to check in with this person as well. You may simply spend a few moments chatting, and mention that she works so well on her own that you don't want to crowd her. Remind her, however, that you're interested in her work and that you are as accessible to her as you are to the rest of the team.

The scope of the project, as well as the length and the setting, will determine how well you will need to get to know the personalities involved. Naturally, if you are working on a week long project by telecommunications with someone 3,000 miles away, you probably won't get to know his or her personality very well. On the other hand, if you are one of three individuals spending day and night in a cramped office space for three weeks, you will most likely become quite familiar with the others in your group. The nature of the project and amount of work involved will also factor into how well you will need to know the personalities involved. There will be instances when you will work on a project for three days and can read someone like a book. On the flip side, there are people you can work with on a month-long project who never reveal very much about themselves. As long as the work gets done and conflicts are minimal, it doesn't really matter how well your team members get to know each other. As a leader, you cannot push people to divulge more of themselves than they choose any more than you can tell people who wear their emotions on their sleeve to hold it all inside.

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