Career Development

The 4 Working Styles and Why They're Important

March 9, 2021

In every workplace, there are usually a variety of personalities and working styles. There are times this level of diversity can lead to miscommunication or conflict, but it most often results in the development of solutions that are creative and effective. By learning more about the different types of work styles and discovering your own approach, you can become a better team member and collaborator. In this article, we explain why understanding working styles is important, provide a list of the different types of working styles and explore how you can determine your own, personal work style.

Related: Interview Question: 'What Is Your Work Style?' (With Example Answers)

What are working styles and why are they important?

Your work style is how you prefer to organize and complete your work. In a single workplace, there are many different types of workers, all of which thrive in various environments. By discovering your working style, you can recognize the roles and responsibilities that you excel in, allowing you to maximize your own productivity and, therefore, success. It's also helpful to understand your own biases and tendencies because it allows you to work past them in certain situations.

Aside from allowing you to become a more effective team member, knowing your work style can also help you understand the type of work and work environment that's best for you. For example, a job that entails communication, collaboration and lots of planning requires a very specific work style. Understanding your optimal work style ensures that you can find positions where you are truly effective and satisfied.

Additionally, identifying the working styles of your colleagues can be beneficial for the entire organization because it gives you the ability to improve collaboration by developing diverse teams that marry the advantages of each style. As a result, you can create better output and solutions. Here's a closer look at the four primary types of working styles:

1. Logical

Individuals with this work style are often known as drivers or doers because they can analyze a problem and tackle it head-on. Those that have this work style are typically data-oriented and love a good challenge. Their linear way of thinking allows them to dedicate an incredible amount of focus toward their goals and get things done. The amount of concentration these individuals have causes them to sometimes forget to communicate the actions they are taking or overlook the importance of planning.

2. Detail-oriented

Sometimes referred to as guardians or learners, those with this working style are sequential, strategic, organized and extremely detail-oriented. These attributes are important in any team because they supply a sense of order and stability. Individuals with this work style are usually extremely pragmatic, meaning they avoid risks and approach situations slowly and thoughtfully. Many people with this type of work style choose a role like engineering because they thrive on researching and understanding a problem and all of its nuances.

Though they are an asset to any team, learners can struggle to execute their meticulously constructed plans. When paired with more actionable team members, they create an unstoppable team.

3. Supportive

Some people have a more emotionally oriented work style that is deeply expressive and supportive. Sometimes known as integrators or lovers, these individuals typically build relationships and bring teams together to work in harmony. In other words, they usually value collaboration above all else. They are sensitive to the feelings of everyone around them, allowing them to successfully facilitate team communications and understand the true context of a situation.

4. Idea-oriented

Often thought of as pioneers, leaders or big-picture thinkers, individuals with this working style are skilled at creating a vision and inspiring others to believe in it. These workers thrive on the endless risks and possibilities, making them an incredible source of energy. These innovators are great at turning obstacles into opportunities, but they can get so wrapped up in the bigger picture that they overlook details or forget to follow-up with other members of their team.

Though these are the four primary working styles, it is possible to use a combination of these approaches. Some of the most popular combinations are logical and idea-oriented or detail-oriented and supportive.

How to determine which working style you use

If you're struggling to figure out your working style based solely on the descriptions, you can follow these simple steps to guide your evaluation:

1. Evaluate your preferred mode of communication

It can often be helpful to think about how you choose to communicate to narrow down the type of working style you have. There are certain characteristics that you're likely to notice in specific work styles, such as active listening skills in someone with a supportive work style. For example, you might expect someone with a detail-oriented work style to write concise emails and remain stoic in their in-person exchanges, while someone with an idea-oriented working style could use a lot of passionate hand gestures when talking with others.

2. Think about how you like to plan your day

Another key indicator of your working style can be found in how you structure your day. Someone with a detail-oriented work style likely has a clear plan for each day and rarely misses deadlines, while someone with another work style could approach each day with more fluidity and wait until the last minute to complete their work.

Aside from your approach to each day and deadlines, you can also think about whether you prefer time for planning or a fast-paced work environment that allows you to be spontaneous.

3. Determine how you deal with conflict

While someone with a logical working style might welcome a good debate, others might avoid any conflict, even if it is friendly. By determining how you handle conflict, you can get a better idea of your personality in and outside of work. For example, if you have a supportive work style, you might focus on developing a compromise any time a workplace conflict arises.

4. Take a personality test

Personality tests can be an extremely beneficial tool for discovering your personality as well as your work style. In fact, sometimes employers ask candidates to take personality tests during the application or hiring process so that they can get a better idea of their behavior and overall outlook. They use the results to decide if candidates or employees are well-suited for specific teams and roles because they give them a way to assess an individual's approach to relationships and work. There are many different types of personality tests available, but perhaps the most popular are the:

  • Myers Briggs Type Index (MBTI): The Myers Briggs Type Index is an extremely popular personality test that is based on the theory that people relate to one another in four different psychological areas (sensation, intuition, feeling and thinking). There are 16 different personality types according to this test, and the results can give you valuable insight into your personal work style.

  • Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R): This personality test evaluates you based on the belief that there are five major personality traits (neuroticism, extroversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness). Within each of these traits, six separate subcategories further define how you approach the world.

  • Winslow Personality Profile: The Winslow Personality Profile uses a decile scale to measure 24 different personality traits. Though this test is popularly used within sports leagues, it can provide useful information for any work environment.

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