Interestingly, the evidence indicates that the variance in personality characteristics may be more important than the mean. So, for example, while higher mean levels of conscientiousness on a team are desirable, mixing both conscientious and not so conscientious members tend to lower performance. This may be because, in such teams, members who are highly conscientious not only must perform their own tasks but also must perform or re-do the tasks of low conscientious members . It may also be because such diversity leads to feelings of contribution inequity. Another interesting finding related to personality is that one bad apple can spoil the barrel. A single team who lacks a minimal level of, say, agreeableness, can negatively affect the whole team’s performance. So including just one person who is low on agreeableness, conscientiousness, or extraversion can result in strained internal processes and decreased overall performance.
Increasingly, we are learning why these traits are important to team performance. For example, conscientious people are valuable because they’re good at backing up fellow team members and they’re also good at sensing when that support is truly needed. Extroverts are better at training and motivating team members who are struggling. If a team is confronted with a poor fit between how their team is configured and their work environment (for example, when a team is loosely structured but needs to closely coordinate on a project), emotionally stable team members are critical because they are better at adapting and helping others to adapt. Teams comprised of open people make better use of Computer technology in making decisions. Open people better communicate with one another and throw out more ideas, which leads teams comprised of open people to be more creative and innovative. When an unforeseen change happens, teams comprised of conscientious, emotionally stable, and open members cope and adapt better. Personality also influences how teams respond to their surroundings. For example, extraverted teams and agreeable teams respond negatively to individual competitive rewards. Why? Because, such individualistic incentives tend to run counter to the social nature of extroverted and agreeable teams.
Teams have different needs, and people should be selected for a team to ensure that all various roles are filled.
We can identify nine potential team roles. Successful work teams have people to fill all these roles and have selected people to play these roles based on their skills and preferences. On many teams, individuals will play multiple roles. Managers need to understand the individual strength that each person can bring to a team, select members with their strengths in mind, and allocate work assignments that fit with members; preferred styles. By matching individual preferences with team role demands, managers increase the likelihood that the team members will work well together.
As previously noted, most team activities require a variety of skills ad knowledge. Given this requirements it would be reasonable to conclude that heterogeneous teams those composed of dissimilar individuals would be more likely to have diverse abilities and information and should be more effective. Research studies generally substantiate this conclusion, especially on cognitive, creativity-demanding tasks.
When a team is diverse in terms of personality, gender, age, education, functional specialization, and experience, there is an increased probability that the team will possess the needed characteristics to complete its tasks effectively. The team may be more conflict laden and less expedient as varied positions are introduced and assimilated, but the evidence generally supports the conclusion that heterogeneous teams perform more effectively than do those that are homogeneous. Essentially diversity promotes conflict, which stimulates creativity, which leads to improved decision making. One study found that, on a cognitive task, homogenous groups of white males performed the worst relative to mixed race and gender teams or teams of only females.