Four critical insights into team chemistry you won’t learn from personality tests

Human Resource leaders and team managers often turn to personality profile testing results for guidance on how to create the harmony desired. But these tests focus on individuals, failing to provide guidance to teams about on the best way to interact with others.

Human Resource leaders are increasingly pointing to team success, team chemistry, and team collaboration as mission critical. Not surprising given how success in business or within an organization is increasingly team, not individual, driven.

Collaboration and workflow technologies like Microsoft Teams, Slack, Asana, Google Workspace, and others have enabled contributions to happen from pools of individuals at dispersed locations. This enables individual expertise to easily be refactored into workflow steps that are less expert dependent. The “team as a whole” is becoming the focal point above its individual “expert” parts.

With this emphasis on teams also comes a heightened need to create team chemistry. This is becoming more challenging since teams using collaboration technology can stay connected without working in the same office.

Teams can assemble and disband around projects, short- and long-term in duration, while working across multiple cultures and locations. This can create challenges for the team to quickly know how they will most effectively work together, avoid misperceptions, which disintegrate into conflict instead of keeping natural friction positive.

HR and team managers often turn to personality profile testing results for guidance on how to create the harmony desired. But these tests focus on individuals, failing to provide guidance to teams about on the best way to interact with others.

What is needed is a way to understand “how” someone is smart using a Multiple Intelligences-based profile. The theory of Multiple Intelligences challenges the idea of a single IQ, where human beings have one central “computer” where intelligence is housed.

Howard Gardner, the Harvard professor who originally proposed the theory, says that there are multiple types of human intelligence, each representing different ways of processing information. Based on genetics and environmental influences, Multiple Intelligences can reveal how team members are individually wired, drawing on unique brain pathways as input is received and filtered.

These brain pathways are key to uncovering Dominant Traits, which represent the most natural way for an individual to transfer and retain knowledge. However, Multiple Intelligences isn’t just about uncovering the Dominant Traits (e.g., personal wiring) of individuals. Multiple Intelligences are most impactful when a group of people’s Dominant Traits are considered so that common ground can be found.

It is important to note that Dominant Traits can be expected to naturally collide. Yet, when team members are aware of their own Dominant Traits, and those of their teammates, they can make exchanges significantly more effective.

The yüMIvü People Chemistry Platform uses a fusion of Multiple Intelligences and other profiling tools to identify friction points teammates. It is built on the premise that teams collaborate better together when you understand how everyone is uniquely wired and find common ground.

yüMIvü is unlike personality profiles, which deliver a static set of results about you. While valuable, these assessments don’t consider who you are working with and how your approach might need to change.

With yüMIvü, users can compare themselves to one person, a small group, or a large team. When members of the group change, so do the insights yüMIvü delivers – dynamically refreshing to reflect the individuality of those in the current view.

Critical Insight #1 – How we communicate within the team matters

Understanding how each team member communicates is the first critical insight a team needs. The yüMIvü People Chemistry platform uses three primary sharing communication forms based on Multiple Intelligences:

  1. Written and Spoken
  2. Charts and Graphs
  3. Show and Experience

Often, one or more of these will be a Dominant Trait of an individual team member. This means that their brain pathway will have biases for how they communicate and process information.

For some individuals, the need to process input using their Dominant Trait(s) will be so strong that they will be dependent on working this way. At the other end of the spectrum, there will be those who will struggle with processing input in a given communication form. Still, others do not prefer a communication form but can process within a certain form, when needed.

For the team, knowing where each teammate is Dominant, Dependent or Challenged is critical for working effectively together. Without this knowledge, communication will struggle to be effective.

Critical Insight #2 – How we approach working as a team is critical

Part of the brain pathway of each team member is the intensity of need to work together and/or to have introspection or processing time. Many team members will be balanced, meaning they can work with others or “individually” but still a part of a group because these approaches are not Dominant Traits for them.

But to fully engage those who do have an approach-related Dominant Trait – either the need to be introspective and individual or engaged and involved – the team will need to be aware of this need and accommodate it. Heavy disruption of an individual’s natural brain pathway limits their ability to optimally contribute to the team.

While long-standing teams can “sense” and respect these Dominant Trait team member needs over time, having insight into individual preferences can be particularly valuable to short-term or project teams.

Cracking the code on how team members “approach” collaborative work – and using that to design the team’s “brain pathway” – can result in a more cohesive team. Members who need more time for introspection or processing should be given the space to do so, while those who are more naturally inclined to work collaboratively should be encouraged to do so. Allowing team members to work in the way that is most comfortable to them maximizes their potential to contribute to the team and increases the team’s overall positive chemistry.

Critical Insight #3 – The varying needs for consistency within the workflow

Some team members will have a strong need for Pace and Pattern, another Dominant Trait. Having consistency and strong rhythm and repetition is simply essential to their success. For these people, the need for consistency will simply be strong. Others, though, may have an intense dependency on this rhythm and flow.

The need for “consistency” among team members can make or break the dynamics of a group. Members who have a strong need for pace and pattern may find that “consistency” is essential for their success. Others may not have an intense dependency on this rhythm and flow. These differing needs can cause disruption and adjusting can help avoid any potential clashes.

What’s important is that the team know and adapt. Some members have no need for patterns; they can jump in and out of the project easily. But when they do, they run the risk of derailing the contribution of those who have a strong need for consistency. Without the ability to know how the Dominant Traits of other team members, collisions are inevitable. But with knowledge, they are easily avoided.

Critical Insight #4 – Understanding the source of different perspectives

Understanding the source of different perspectives can help teams avoid friction. Some team members may have predetermined what the best, most logical course of action is. As a result, they are unable to see any other options.

This can lead to feelings of being “steamrolled” by predetermined conclusions among those with different perspectives, who can visualize multiple perspectives, or who are naturally inclined to challenge conventional wisdom. Learning to recognize and appreciate the source of these perspectives can help teams work together more harmoniously.

The team member arriving with the single perspective is often open to other perspectives when they view them as more logical than their initial choice. However, the logical pathway they have taken can make it difficult for them to recognize alternative options.

When a team understands how each member forms their perspectives, they can draw on the strengths of each approach. Diversity in perspectives is beneficial, but there is a risk of it leading to conflicts if the team is not aware of the underlying brain pathways.

Discover your team chemistry

The yüMIvü People Chemistry Platform from Collaboration Insights is one example of a Multiple Intelligences based resource that can provide the brain pathways/insights about Dominant Traits teams need.

While Collaboration Insights does charge for access to premium features for team collaboration, there’s no cost for individual profiles, 1:1 comparison, and the team comparison modules Friction Finder and Staying Motivated.

To create a workplace group for a team, create a free individual user account and then activate Create Group within the app to invite their work teammates.

More information on this platform can be found at