Matt is responsible for overseeing the company’s product solution portfolio and roadmap. Prior to joining The Predictive Index, Matt co-founded Covocative, a web-based coaching software company.

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By Matt Poepsel

Truth be told, I’m not much of a cook.
As such, making dinner for three teens would seem to be a challenge enough, but it’s therapy-inducing fun when you consider their specific culinary preferences.

My 16-year-old daughter has been a vegetarian for just over a year. This, despite the fact that she hates veggies, tofu and pretty much anything vegetarians are supposed to eat. My two younger carnivores are no better. My son considers tomatoes non grata, and his little sister wonders why we even need a stove when her favorite foods are perfectly microwaveable.

As a result, my kitchen resembles a Willy Wonka-like assembly line so I can prepare multiple lasagnas (meatless and replete with meat), two types of chili (one spicy and one “a little spicy but not so spicy that it burns my lips off”), and a variety of sandwiches that would make a Subway menu board feel inadequate.

In weaker moments – usually at the end of a long day with my bride suspiciously absent at dinnertime – I think to myself, “Wouldn’t it be easier if these hooligans would just eat what I eat?”

That’s when I remind myself that even though I may be wearing the Martha Stewart kitchen apron, it’s not about me and what I want to eat or wish they’d eat.

It turns out my kids and my coworkers have a lot in common.

Much like our family’s dining profile, people in organizations have different styles, preferences, needs, motivators, and other important personal characteristics. A failure to recognize this simple-but-essential fact is why some organizations look more than a bit like Hell’s Kitchen.

Take my own team, for example. Our team is comprised of a diverse set of personalities. My superstars include:

  • A “Persuasive” – Quick to connect with others, dynamic, enthusiastic
  • A “Craftsman” – Analytical, precise, reserved
  • A “Diligence” – Conscientious, modest, unselfish
  • An “Individualist” – Independent, creative, conceptual

We’re able to perform at a high level because we understand one another’s natural differences. Beyond that, we appreciate and even celebrate these differences. We’ve learned to adjust our working styles to best fit the other team member’s needs. For our detail-oriented folks, we take extra care to make sure our communication, process and instructions are clear. For our people-oriented teammates, we each come out of our shells and engage in dialogue – at least for a bit.

If you want to improve your team’s performance and working style, try the following:

  • Write it out. Grab a stack of papers or Post-It notes and write each team member’s name at the top. Set a stretch goal of listing 10 descriptive adjectives or phrases for each person. Steer clear of vanilla terms such as “nice” and get into more meaty terms like “über-competitive” or “careful when making decisions.”
  • Connect the dots. When you’re done, tack them up on a wall, stand back and note the similarities and differences of your team members. Think about any interpersonal challenges or productivity gaps you may be having. Ask yourself how personal differences among team members may be contributing to these issues.
  • Start the conversation. Bring your team together to raise awareness and brainstorm improvement opportunities. You could facilitate the above exercise by asking team members to list adjectives for each team member and then have each person on the hot seat add/edit as needed. Keep it positive and constructive, and you’ll be surprised at what you collectively learn. This process will bring natural differences out into the open allowing team members to think about how they can better work together in light of these differences.
  • Change it up. Knowing someone’s behavioral style and preferences is just the first step. You also need to change up your own behavior and interactions to meet them where they are. If you’re not a naturally detail-oriented person, you need to try to be more so when working with those who are. This isn’t an easy process, but it’s essential for long-term leadership, performance and team welfare.

These simple exercises can make a big difference in your work. Once you master the art of working with a diverse set of personalities in the office, you just might be ready for the ultimate challenge: Coming to my house to cook dinner. Please?


If you’re interested in an über-precise profile of you and your peeps, let us know! We’ll put the Power of PI to work for you.