Have you ever realised that some people are more easy to work with than others when it comes to completing a task? Some people seem to just be born effective, driven and passionate towards reaching a goal, but others on the other hand are a little bit of a journey to work with when it comes to concrete accomplishments.
I remember being crazy frustrated with one of my team members because every time I would ask her to do something with the team, she would do it, but she would do it at her own pace and would always take the people around her along on the journey. Even though she knew there was a goal to reach that she took on as a responsibility, she was naturally more focused in making sure people were having fun, learning and feeling like they belonged on the team while doing the task. So this brings us to the simple and very common question in leadership, what do we do when people and task collide? Is this a problem at all?
People or task oriented?
It is said that the inclination of the person’s focus is a matter of their personality, which tends to be either task or people oriented. I came to realise when leading teams, that naturally my first inclination would be to complete the task no matter what, and found that tendency pretty obvious since in my head completing a task was the purpose of a team.
The task oriented person usually does not see team bonding as a strong need in the process of achieving a goal, they believe that their goal as a leader is to provide the necessary information for the team to be empowered to do what it needs to do, they see themselves as simply facilitators and exponents of a vision that the team is to follow in order to accomplish their purpose, but little they notice that the embrace of a goal will only take them so far.
If there is one thing that I learned from my people-oriented friends it is that you cannot expect for your team members to act like machines and continually produce without being taken care of. It would be easy for other task-oriented people to continually produce, but all things in excess are not healthy, so a balance is clearly needed in what would look like workaholic situations. And if your ideal image of a team is a group of people who makes things happen, how much more awesome would it be to have a team that does make things happen but that takes care of each other in the process? How cool would it be to have a team in which you feel like you are valued the moment you step in, and therefore a team that you don’t work with simply because you have to, but because you truly enjoy doing what you do with the people you do it with?
A needed balance
In order to build a strong and healthy team, both task-oriented and people-oriented individuals are needed, and as leaders it is our job to recognise and understand the value each of them brings to the table. Even though both types of personality should be stretched in order for their capacities to grow and develop the opposite skills from their natural inclination (See task-oriented can learn how to connect better with people and vice-verse), the best way to get the most out of who they are is to place them in their grace zone.
The people-oriented person is someone that you want on your team to make that first connection with people, you want them to know who the team members are and make sure everyone is recognised and valued. This is the person you might want to place in roles that involve representing or promoting the company, because they usually are very good at communication skills the core values of the team and its vision.
On the other hand, the task oriented person is someone you want as a project manager, or a quality check person, for they will make sure that things happened and are done well under the specified timeframe. Always make sure that you give both personalities the chance to work together, for this is the only way in which they will be exposed to challenges that will bring their weaknesses forward and help them improve learning from each other. Remember both tendencies are valuable! And we are all on a journey of finding the balance between both. But one thing is for sure: That NO team will reach its full potential without one or the other.
What about you? Are you a task or people oriented person?