It comes as no surprise that different employees have different working styles – the way they approach, organise and complete tasks. People often talk about the ‘Perfectionist’, the ‘Procrastinator’, and ‘Mr Last-Minute.com’. But would you recognise these different working styles and know how to manage them?
It can be challenging forming and building a team and getting everyone functioning correctly in their roles. Rather than just having the smartest people on board, a ‘dream team’ is all about having variation and a good balance of working styles on board. A good blend and a diversity in working styles is the best way to achieve long term success for your team and your company.
What are different working styles?
The world of psychology and management theory has long been interested in recognising the different working styles which can make a group tick.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a widely used personality test which determines preferences on four scales: extroversion-introversion, sensing-intuition, thinking-feeling and judging-perceiving. Various combinations of these preferences result in 16 personality types which tells how people perceive the world and make decisions.
Also, British management theorist Belbin famously came up with a set of specific ‘team roles’ which individuals display while engaging in tasks – a team role being “a tendency to behave, contribute and interrelate with others in a particular way”. Some of Belbin’s team role types included:
- The Co-ordinator
Contributions: confident, clarifies goals, promotes decision-making, delegates well.
Weaknesses: can be seen as manipulative, off-loads personal work.
- The Implementer
Contributions: disciplined, reliable, conservative and efficient. Turns ideas into practical actions.
Weaknesses: inflexible, slow to respond to new possibilities.
- The Completer – finisher
Contributions: painstaking, conscientious, anxious. Searches out errors and delivers on time.
Weaknesses: inclined to worry, reluctant to delegate.
Contributions: co-operative, mild, perceptive and diplomatic, averts friction.
Weaknesses: indecisive in crunch situations.
It’s easy to see how these roles translate into working styles – imagine if a team was full of co-ordinators but no implementors! A balanced team will be more efficient and successful by bringing their different skills and approaches to your business be it sales, scheduling or site management.
Managing different working styles
Work with your team to understand their different team working styles. Take a long hard look at the individual’s track record, personality and contributions to assess their strengths and weaknesses and identify any gaps and overlaps, for example:
- Do they contribute ideas and solutions to problems?
- Do they ask more questions than provide solutions?
- Do they regularly complete work early, at the last minute or late?
- Do they more frequently collaborate with team members or solo?
A manager could do this evaluation informally, or more formally with the help of HR staff or you could even choose to use the MBTI test or the Belbin method. It’s not the only way to make a team work – long-established Hay research has shown that outstanding teams also had strong organisational support with sound data and forecasts, and were adequately trained and rewarded.
It’s not just about current employees. Job applicants look for different types of working style – some, for instance, love teamwork while others only want to be rewarded for individual effort – and each person brings their own preferences to work with them. So it’s advisable to probe working styles when recruiting, for example, with a hypothetical question aimed at eliciting how they would approach or go about a task or problem.
A clash between different personality types is often the cause of tension and conflict at work. The ‘analyser’ will frustrate ‘the organiser’ while a ‘teamworker’ may not gel well with individual go-getters. A lack of awareness and understanding about the working styles of your employees may make it harder to resolve problems and mediate.
Once you become skilled at recognising different work styles you can leverage everyone’s strengths and several benefits will follow including:
- A more cohesive and focused team
- Less conflict between employees
- Better employee engagement
- Improved productivity
The Chronologic Workforce Management System supports the gathering, tracking and reporting of a wide range of employee related time and attendance data. It also gives you the ability to store and manage HR related information such as employee training information. Alerts and workflows can be set up to ensure, for example, that training happens when it should.