Throughout our careers we probably will have many different teams and bosses. Sometimes we are fortunate to work with a boss or a team who have similar ways of problem solving as well as communicating. Other times we will collaborate with a boss or a colleague who has a completely different approach to challenges than we do. There is no one best work style as we each are unique workers.
During many of my leadership programs and coaching sessions we begin with identifying each leader’s work style. This can be discovered through a self-assessment instrument such as DiSC or Myers-Briggs Inventory. The process of becoming self-aware of how we receive and process information empowers leaders to better understand how they interact with others. It can be fascinating to gain insights about our natural or preferred styles of work. For example, one individual I coached, was having a difficult time proving to their boss that they could be trusted and were on top of their projects. They always kept a to do list that organized their days. However, their boss never got to see that list and was worried constantly where the projects stood. What the leader eventually learned was that their boss needed to be updated daily with a short list of their project status.
Here are six strategies to mesh your work style with others:
1. Identify Your Natural Work Style
Begin a process of self-discovery by delving into what makes you tick. Be open to exploring how you interact with others and make decisions through a recognized self-assessment tool. Connect with a coach to help you figure out:
- What energizes you– people or thoughts?
- How you like to be given information- in bullet points or more detail?
- The way you make decisions- quickly or with more information?
- The speed you share information- staccato or more paced?
2. Recognize The Work Styles Of Others
Once a leader becomes self-aware of their work style, they may be able to identify the work style of their boss and colleagues. It may not be a perfect analysis, but it will still be helpful in reflecting on their differences. Understanding our boss’s and team members’ styles can deepen our relationships, create more trust and build camaraderie. In addition, there will be way less miscommunication if we lean into how one another works best.
3. Look For Commonalities Between The Different Styles
A helpful way to avoid clashes is to find mutual ways of approaching projects and challenges. Some of the techniques to find commonalities is to observe:
- How each person prefers to receive information. Some of us need simple list of facts and data while others require a more detailed narrative.
- What excites and energizes our bosses and team members- surrounding themselves with people or getting lost in their thoughts and research?
4. Become A Leader Who Can Pivot
Do you know the real secret ingredient to avoid clashing with your boss’s work style? Flexing. When leaders discover that they are locking horns with others on their team or their boss, they need to step back and think. They may want to ask themselves, “Why is this interaction causing friction or a roadblock?” Chances are there is a clash of work styles and someone needs to pivot. That someone needs to be you.
5. Know The Red Flags
When leaders are self-aware they are more likely to recognize the triggers that can lead to conflict with others. Of course, having a deep understanding of what can cause frustration or uneasiness starts with being truthful about our own behavior. A helpful exercise is to observe your interactions with others and notice when:
- There is a physical reaction to working on a project such as heart racing or sweating.
- You feel marginalized when you offer contributions.
- There is a lack of clarity in roles or tasks.
- You can’t see the real purpose or value of an assignment.
When any of these red flags surface, it is best to obtain additional information and not just react in a negative way.
6. Share Your Work Style Strengths With Others
Each leader has gifts and talents that team members or bosses may not be aware of. It’s so important to step up and share your strengths that may result in a stronger end result. When we lead by offering our assistance to someone who really could use help, we build connections and trust. Those moments also show our colleagues and boss that we can be depended and relied upon.
How do you prevent clashes with your team members and boss?
Related: The Power of Different Opinions