Managing Different Work Styles

Every manager faces the challenge of successfully overseeing a diverse group of individuals. Managing different work styles is a daily challenge. Empowering employees will help maximize each person’s strengths for the greatest possible benefit to the company. Use these tactics to give your team members the support they need while utilizing their strengths to the greatest potential. Diversity is a powerful asset in any professional group. Harnessing different work styles will provide you with a well-rounded approach to any project.

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Recognize each employee’s individuality

Resources often classify employees by work style, dividing them into distinct groups. This doesn’t take individual diversity into account. Workers don’t fit neatly inside pre-classified boxes. Every person has a unique set of strengths, weaknesses, experiences and viewpoints. Manage the different work styles on your team by evaluating them independently without preconceived notions of how a work style will exhibit itself.

Individuals who are empathic and people-oriented are often thought to be more disorganized and less detail-oriented. However, this isn’t always the case. A leadership-oriented work style is sometimes connected to a more detached approach to personal interactions, but this is an overgeneralization as well. Recognize the distinct traits that your employees exhibit and tailor your management style on an individual basis that doesn’t apply broad categorizations of people.

Take note of strengths

Focus on your employees’ strengths and look for ways you can maximize these. Strength-based management fosters growth in the areas where workers are most talented. Developing strengths offers greater gains than working on weaknesses. Gallup research indicates that when supervisors focus on employee strengths, just 1% are actively disengaged. When a supervisor focuses on weaknesses, disengagement jumps to 22%.

The same Gallup research indicates that focusing on strengths improves employees’ overall well-being. Worry and stress decrease as employees spend more time on activities that utilize their talents. While 52% of employees feel stressed when using their strengths three hours a day or less, just 36% are stressed if they use their strong suits for at least 10 hours a day.

Many employees don’t know their strengths. Providing a strengths assessment is beneficial for both the manager and the worker. Both will gain valuable insights that can guide the scope of their work activities going forward.

Create diverse teams

Diversity is key to workplace success. Create teams with individuals of many different strengths. A team comprised entirely of detail-oriented individuals may get along because they understand one another’s viewpoints. However, this group lacks the essential element of big-picture thinking. The team needs someone who is skilled at stepping back and observing how those details come together.

A group of social individuals might enjoy their time together tremendously, but their personalities are also likely to drive them to distraction. If a socially-inclined worker is paired with someone quieter and more reserved, each will compensate for the strengths and weaknesses of the other. Managing a well-balanced team is easier than overseeing a group that is skewed toward one set of strengths. Potential pitfalls may correct themselves because there’s another team member close by who can bolster the group when issues arise.

Empower workers to manage themselves

Create a flexible workplace so employees can manage their time and activities in ways that suit their individual work styles. Allow workers the option to set their own hours and choose whether they will work from home or in the office. Those whose work style benefits from a social environment can pursue a situation that provides ample interaction. Employees with a solitary work style can spend more time working remotely.

Ask employees to set personal goals

Set overarching goals for your department and task employees with setting their own milestones. This allows each worker to craft a workflow that suits his or her personal style. As the manager, you can still check in with your employees to make sure they’re making progress, but you don’t have to dictate each step in the journey.

Encourage employees to communicate their needs for each project so you can offer proactive solutions. Tailor each individual’s training and coaching toward his or her needs rather than put all employees through the same program. Use valuable work hours mindfully, offering educational opportunities where they’re needed while avoiding redundant courses and unnecessary meetings that don’t hold value for everyone in attendance.

Adjust your approach often

Evaluate and adjust your management approach regularly. Change your techniques as needed to better suit the individuals you’re working with. Give more attention to the distinct personal needs of each worker while dedicating less to generic policies and standard procedures. Managing diverse work styles takes diverse approaches. Allow creative employees to craft original solutions and give these approaches space to come to fruition.

Promptly admit when a tactic isn’t working and seek solutions that cater better to the work styles within your team. You must still accomplish your end goal, but there are countless ways to get there when you allow the strengths of your employees to shape the path.

Managing different work styles is a challenge but also a privilege. Working with employees that bring different skill levels and experiences to the team will equip you to tackle more complex projects and remain competitive in your industry. Utilize the strengths in different work styles to naturally mitigate the impact of any weaknesses that your employees have. With a mindful approach to your management style, you can supervise different work styles effectively while getting the best possible performance from each one.

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