Embrace different work styles

Corporate people shaking hands on a meeting

I’ve previously written about how managers who hire people who remind them of themselves (“mini-me” syndrome) do themselves and their organizations a disservice. Diversity, in all its forms, makes for innovative, creative thought, and improves productivity. A topic related to hiring a mini-me is the common management practice of assuming that there is only one way to do a job, only one style of work.

The way we think, structure, organize, and complete our work is the foundation upon which businesses operate, grow, and thrive today. And although everyone has her own unique style of working, they generally fall into one of the following categories:

Disruptors. Disruptors seek out possibilities and spark imagination. 

Influencers. Influencers know what makes people tick. They love a challenge, too. 

Guardians. Guardians bring order and rigor to the table. They tend to be linear thinkers.

Integrators. Integrators operate with a high degree of empathy and bring people together. 

What does this mean in practice? Well, it means that there’s a good chance that most of the people around you have a different work style than you do. Some complete work in advance of deadlines. Others wait until the last minute. Some people send emails that are terse and brief. Other people write novels and epic poetry. None of these is good or bad. They simply are what they are. And when they come together, they create chemistry within the team and for the business. 

As a manager, you are measured by the results your team produces. So focus on results, the quality of the work, rather than how the team members arrive there. If the procrastinator on your team is the one who produces the highest quality work; that’s where your focus should be, and not on the fact that he does most things at the last minute. If the person with the messiest work station is a great contributor, don’t worry about the messy desk! The best advice I can give to any manager is this: don’t spend time on things that do not matter. The working style of the members of your team does not matter. Manage for results. 

Smiling smart business people working on difficult financial project

The bottom line

Opposing styles can complement each other and result in a more balanced, higher-performing team. Putting the time and effort into learning how to work with teammates with differing work styles and preferences can create a resilient partnership in the long run. On the next project, you lead or participate in, ensure that the different work styles are represented. 


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