Building company from scratch – you probably have heard that people are key to success. It’s kind of evergreen. When you build company with your friends or people you’ve worked with before, you have a great advantage: you know them well, you know what motivates them, what they interests and values are. But what to do when you don’t?

There are lots of books about team building. When Divante started growing (from about 70 employees to 170+ now) I’ve started reading everything about this topic I could find back then. It was an inflection point of our company. Many people stopped knowing each other. We introduced middle management and everything started to underperform.

It sometimes seemed like people “didn’t like” themselves, gossip started to spread, people weren’t joking on the meetings, stopped talking with each other. Somebody was disappointed with provided responsibilities, someone else was designated to be a manager but have no managerial skills and after few months stepped back to … be finally happy as an IT professional. From a distance – it surely looked crazy :)

It was a moment when using an intuition for managing people stopped working. You cannot use intuitional primary tool to manage people you didn’t have time to work with and didn’t know personally.

I read a great book by Patrick Lencioni – “Five dysfunctions of a team” – strongly recommended. You can learn a lot from it. Looking back – among all tips and tricks one was most eye-opening for me – to use personality tests (Gallup Strengths Finder mentioned in this book) to know your team mates and help them to get most of their careers. But then I had missed the point: (another coaching advice for 5 cents :)) – I didn’t use it immediately.

After 2 years from this time my brother (and business partner) Tomek was attending Gary Vaynerchuk presentation on TheNextWeb. After the show he told me: “Gary started with personality test to learn about himself and then he decided to do only what he’s good at and what conforms to his personality”. You cannot be the best when doing contrary to your personality features!

personality
personality

So, it was quite eye opening and I’ve decided: if Gary does it, so should I. I’ve done 16personalitoes.com test and then sent the link to my wife and friends – basically people I know best. Everyone sent their results back to me. What was really shocking – the personality descriptions you get from 16personalities.com exactly described features of each person, including myself.

You can learn what motivates each personality, why does he or she make such decisions and how to communicate with them. You can even learn how your personality combines with another – finding ideas how to solve conflicts and what can generates them.

I’ve learned I’m an ISTP personality and here you can see an example of test result. I’ve managed to persuade all our middle managers to do this test as well. It helped us a lot – worked like a shortcut to better knowing each other.

How it can work in professional environment? If you know somebody is introvert – probably assigning them customer support tasks wouldn’t be the best idea. Motivated people will try to satisfy the expectations – becoming more and more demotivated along the way. Doing more what burns them out. Sometimes even not knowing why do they feel bad about and blaming themselves for bad results! Most people aren’t trying to figure out what they should do and they waste their potential. As a manager, you can help them to change this.

Gallup Strengths Finder can also be helpful. It’s more structured examination and provides advice optimised for professional activities. You can find you’re Achiever, or Communicator – it’s based on behaviour themes more than personalities. It helps you to optimise behaviour to make the most from the themes you operate in.

You cannot motivate people but only find the motivated ones. But when you do that, don’t waste their potential assigning tasks they struggle even to begin with; working life is too short to minimise shortcomings. What you should do is to maximise the advantages of your team.

Read also: 7 worst mistakes Product Manager can make – and how to avoid them

Piotr Karwatka

CTO at Divante eCommerce Technology Company. Open-source enthusiast and life-long builder. Co-founder of Vue Storefront and Open Loyalty. Now gathering engaged communities around new technologies. | LinkedIn | Twitter

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