Team Composition: Personality Types

Three main types of personality

Sometimes people on a team work well together, and sometimes personalities clash so harshly that no work gets done.

Different folks are motivated by different things. In work environments we see three types:

  1. task-oriented
    motivated by the work itself; technicians, challenged by the technical details and problems to be solved
  2. self-oriented
    motivated by personal success; software development may be a means to other goals, such as management position, experience towards starting a company, etc.
  3. interaction-oriented
    motivated by the hive itself... by the presence and actions of co-workers; perhaps this type has not been so common since SE is seen publicly as not having human interactions (contrast to, say, social work or teaching) but may be changing

Each individual has elements of all three motivating him/her, but one form is usually dominant.

Study by Bass and Dunteman (1963)

People of each type described themselves

Teams were built from all one type

"Groupthink" (Janis, 1972)

Sometimes groups can fall into acceptance of a bad idea simply because it becomes consensus. No critical examination happens due to group loyalty, personal heistation to "stand out", etc.

Sometimes a "caustic" or disagreeable person on a team can be a valuable asset even though he/she seems troublesome. This person can be the foil that causes analysis instead of groupthink.

This can also be fought successfully with code reviews, design reviews, structured formal times for critique, especially involving folks from outside the team.

Managers have a tough job... to build teams that have the "right stuff"