Why companies need different personalities to be successful

Birthe Mester of Deutsche Bank's Human Resources department outlines how both companies and individuals can benefit from having a range of different personalities in teams.

Explained in 99Seconds

Birthe, what are the business benefits to companies of having contrasting personalities in teams?

Contrasting personalities mean that people think differently, view opportunities and problems from different angles and have different strengths and capabilities.

This diversity of personality is essential to remaining competitive and ensuring an organisation’s sustainable performance.  For example, thinking differently and having different viewpoints play a major role in naming just a few: Innovation and problem solving, managing risks and making robust decisions, running efficient operations and remaining attractive as an employer of choice.

Are there any problems that typically happen when trying to implement this? Indeed, are there advantages having a more like-minded team?

On the whole we like to be in the company of people who are like us. Therefore, having differing personalities can of course be uncomfortable at first.

It takes a bit more effort to get to know each other and appreciate how all of us can contribute in different ways. This means that people need to be curious, open to new ideas and accept there are more than just one way of approaching a problem.

Sometimes thinking the same way may help solve a problem in the short term. But mostly organisations deal with complex problems which need a multi-perspective and collaborative approach to solve.

That’s why at Deutsche Bank we work cross functionally and are using the agile methodology to ensure we consider many different perspectives.

What do companies need to do to support a transition?

First and foremost, companies need to value divergent thinking. At Deutsche Bank, we have innovation labs and have proactively fostered a speak up and listen up culture over the past few years.

Secondly, organisations need to support managers in helping them build diverse teams and how to lead them effectively.

Finally, employees also need support in how to work within a diverse team and the benefits that brings.

In a similar way, how can an individual thrive in a team with varying personalities and teams?

Seeking out views and getting input to their work. I strongly believe that work gets better and more robust by having a good mix of feedback. In other words, taking a view of ‘together we are stronger’.

In practical terms this means being empathetic, listening to others to truly understand their viewpoint rather than listening with the intent to speak and perhaps to just refute what they are saying.

This interview was conducted by Michael Taylor.

About Birthe Mester

Birthe Mester is Global Head of Performance, Engagement & Culture at Deutsche Bank and an award-winning Organisational Effectiveness expert with more than 25 years of global cross-sector experience.

She and her team work closely with the Future of Work, Diversity & Inclusion and the Culture, Integrity and Conduct teams and speaks regularly at external events on culture.

Curious by nature she loves meeting new people, hearing their stories, and learning from other cultures. Birthe has been to well over 50 countries in her travels. This has informed her passion for inclusion, building mutual trust, collaboration and what it means to be accountable.

Mike Taylor portrait for What Next

Michael Taylor

... has been fascinated by team dynamics since noticing the eccentric personalities in a school rugby team working together. Now it's more interesting seeing these dynamics at play in work and business success.

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