The Best Positive Work Traits to Build a Successful Team

BY Tim Londergan
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Organizational research provides a wealth of information on how to build successful work teams. Considered separately, an individual’s positive work traits contribute to a variety of upbeat work attributes. However, when building a team, managers must consider the long-​term implications and cohesive nature of these traits. Conversely, when employees possess incompatible work traits, managers will find motivation and performance problems mounting.

Positive work traits originate from your employee’s personality

Management and organizational professionals normally focus on five big personality traits when assessing job performance. These are: agreeability, conscientiousness, extraversion, openness, and neuroticism. Consequently, these qualities become markers for evaluating positive work traits displayed by employees individually or in a group setting. Managers can hedge their bets when hiring new team members simply by commissioning psychometric assessments to determine compatibility.

An expansive study of personality traits

Author John Anderer, writing for studyfinds​.org, reveals the results of a study on personality traits related to job performance. Overall, the research considered the variables of psychological health, physical health, personal relationships, and leadership effectiveness. Further, the study integrated categories of success, performance, physical health, motivation, and mental health.

Agreeableness: the ultimate in positive work traits

Interestingly, the findings “showed agreeableness offers a desirable effect on hundreds of physical, psychological and occupational metrics.” Moreover, “people who had high levels of agreeableness had a 93% success rate in the above categories.”

What’s not to like about agreeableness?

Nothing, apparently — especially if you are working in teams! The researchers investigated eight general themes that describe agreeableness’ characteristic functioning across variables: self-​transcendence, contentment, relational investment, team-​working, work investment, lower results emphasis, social norm orientation, and social integration.

Agreeable employees are self-​directed and motivated to care for others according to the themes. Additionally, these employees maintain positive meaningful relationships, readily comply with social norms, and avoid rule-​breaking. Crucially, the theme of work investment shows agreeable employees are willing to take on more work and perform quality work consistently. Professor Michael Wilmot, co-​author of the study, concluded, “Agreeableness was marked by work investment, but this energy was best directed at helping or cooperating with others. In other words, teamwork.”

The downside of agreeableness

Among positive work traits, agreeableness has definite advantages. However, studies show that all is not rosy, especially in terms of compensation, leadership capabilities and attending to one’s own needs. In a recently updated article, Agreeableness personality: The bad side of this trait, author Lindah Mavengere states that agreeable people find it hard to say no. Consequently, this may be a source of inefficiency in the workplace. Further, agreeable team members are eager to avoid conflict and don't want to upset the status quo. As a result, decision making may be avoided or delayed or deferred to others on the team.

Additionally, Mavengere cites a University of Notre Dame study that shows agreeable workers earned significantly less than disagreeable ones. Furthermore, these go-​along-​to-​get-​along employees are easily manipulated and can be seen as pushovers in the organization. This study showed that highly agreeable people may also be affected physically. For example, putting the needs of others in the forefront can lead to health problems such as stress, depression and resentment.

The trade-​offs of positive work traits

The author concludes, “While highly agreeable people may seem ideal to be around, there are many downsides to this personality trait, which may affect both the individual and the people around them.” Indeed, it’s impossible to force the proper combination. Likewise, it is foolish to trust the process to the "luck of the hire." Therefore, taking a proactive stance with personality assessments can provide the competitive edge you need when building your team in today’s high-​stakes environment.

Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash