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How to create understanding in a team?

Understanding each team member can make the team to function almost smoothlessly. But this takes time and effort. These questions will help you hold a teamwork session that helps you get on the same page with members experiences, characteristics and priorities.

1. Previous experiences & ambitions

A lot of what we value in life and how we act is affected by our past experiences. A functional team needs to be aware of everyone’s experiences and the differences of them. These discussion points help to discover the factors from the past.

1.1. Experiences and ambitions – personal analysis

  1. Think of the very first step or experience that has got you here to this team. For example, if you’re part of a project team, the very first step can be participating in a similar (or a different) project.
  2. Define the goal of your experiences – what do you want to achieve, what life do you want to live, how do you want to grow, who do you want to become or what to do as job? It’s okay to have many goals and different paths as well.
  3. Considering the past and the future, define the position you have now in this team. It can help to visualise your experience as a road with an end, beginning and your current position on the road. Is this team’s experience a direct step forward towards your main ambitions or just a “side road”?
  4. The last exercises helped you to define the experiences that are relevant to your team. Now, list all the little experiences you’ve had previously that are relevant to this team. If you have drawn your experience road, you can add them as stops or landmarks to the road.
  5. If you have some certain plans how to reach your destination, list them as well.

1.2. Team analysis

  1. First, define the skills or experiences that will help to fulfill the team’s goal successfully. This should be done personally.
  2. Share your results with your team.
  3. Analyse your team altogether: what do the members have in common, what are the differences? Does anyone feel they are lacking in experiences? Who can help them to teach the others with their experience?

2.1. Personality traits

The second part of us affecting cooperation is our personality traits. In this section, you will identify your personality first by choosing from the descriptions of the characteristics. Then, you will test your personality at

2.1. Personality analysis

Analyse yourself and decide which trait you mostly fall into. No one is 100% one or the other, so it might help to depict the traits in a scale. Reading the descriptions helps to understand other as well.

a. Introverted or extraverted

Introverted individuals prefer solitary activities and get exhausted by social interaction. They tend to be quite sensitive to external stimulation (e.g. sound, sight or smell) in general. Extraverted individuals prefer group activities and get energized by social interaction. They tend to be more enthusiastic and more easily excited than introverts.

b. Thinking or feeling

People with the Thinking trait seek logic and rational arguments, relying on their head rather than their heart. They do their best to safeguard their emotions, shielding them from the
outside world and making sure that they are not clearly visible. In contrast, people with the
Feeling trait follow their hearts and emotions and care little about hiding them. From their
perspective, we should not be afraid to listen to our innermost feelings and share them with the world – these individuals tend to be compassionate, sensitive and highly emotional.

c. Judging or percieveing

People with the Judging (J) trait do not like to keep their options open – they would rather come up with five different contingency plans than just go ahead and deal with the challenges as they come. They prefer clarity and closure, always going with the plan rather than the flow. In contrast, Prospecting individuals are much more flexible and relaxed when it comes to dealing with both expected and unexpected challenges. They are always scanning for opportunities and options, willing to jump at them at a moment’s notice.

d. Assertive or turbulent

Assertive individuals are self-assured, even-tempered and resistant to stress. They refuse to worry too much and do not push themselves too hard when it comes to achieving goals. Similarly, they are unlikely to spend much time thinking about their past actions or choices – according to Assertive types, what’s done is done and there is little point in analyzing it. In contrast, individuals with Turbulent identity are self-conscious and sensitive to stress. They experience a wide range of emotions and tend to be success-driven, perfectionistic and eager to improve.

Compare the results with other do you have similar or different results? Could problems arise from your differences?

2.2. Characteristics derived from personality traits

The previous traits and past experiences affect your current personality. Your personality may change much based on your experiences. Consider and analyse following points:

  • Your values: what do you consider important in life? What are the traits you value in others? Do you have any beliefs that you stand for no matter what? Or do you lack in
  • Relationships and/or friendships: what are some of your patterns in forming and keeping relationships? Do you like to have a lot of friends or a few close ones? How do you usually spend time with friends? How do you interact with your family, your significant other?
  • Work habits: how do you like to work – alone or next to others? Do you like to focus
    on one task or do several ones at the same time? How much guidance and planning do you need for you to be done before you? Do you need to plan your own time or do you work better with set times? Would you rather have more frequent meetings or send updates to the team about the progress? Describe any other work habits you can think of.

Now present these to your team members and analyse again how well do these traits go together? Did any risks appear for your team? How can you solve them and support each other?

2.3. Strengths and weaknesses

  1. Go through the previous answers to you exercises. Do the listed traits are positive (strengths) or negative (weaknesses) for this team? Assign a + or – to every trait accordingly. Share these with your teammates as well. Follow the same analysis process as before.
  2. Take the test and determine your personality type. The questions you answered previously are comparable with the personality descriptions. Compare the result of your analysis and the test. Is something different? Did you discover more about yourself? Share your thoughts with others.

3. Creating team culture

Based on the results of the previous exercises, create agreements on how to work together as
a team with considering each member’s differences. Think of how to ensure you will understand each others values, strengths and weaknesses and make the team stronger out of them.

This tool was created within an Erasmus+ training course about Emotional Intelligence: F.E.E.L.: Creating Fearless Engaged Emotional Leaders. Read more about the project here.