Understanding collaborative & working styles on your team

Understanding collaborative & working styles on your team

“There’s no me on the team” is an often repeated mantra, but to make sure your team is doing the best it can, look at how different styles of work affect your team dynamics. A seamless mix of different work styles makes for a well-structured team, and a successful team benefits from the different advantages of the styles of its members.

Why do you seem to be arguing with one colleague rather than another during a project? Do you get frustrated when the results of a project are not created or certain details are left out? This is where work styles come into play.

What are work styles?

A work style is the natural way of working in a team environment. It takes into account how you like to communicate, how you handle conflicts, and your preferences for working together.

Similar to the Myer-Briggs Type Indicator and the Enneagram Personality Test, work styles are often based on self-reported answers to a variety of questions. It differs from work styles in that they are specifically formulated for a business or professional application. A number of models are available including the DiSC model, Deloitte business chemistry, and the Belbin team role model. Each model describes its own roles and gives advice on strengths and weaknesses.

Why should you know your work style?

Knowing your work and collaboration style will add another tool to your confidence toolkit. The introspective gaze helps you understand where you stand out and where your prejudices might lie.

Teamwork requires communication, collaboration, compromise and conflict resolution. Once you understand your style and that of your teammates, these parts of your job can become more effective. For example, if you enjoy researching fine details such as a particular project feature, you are less likely to see the overall impact of the feature. Someone else on the team who prefers the big picture may be less familiar with these individual details, but could be the one who meets deadlines and keeps the project going.

As with any type of personality test, it is important to note that people should not be pigeonholed and that there are always mistakes. Rather than relying on just one type to determine team structure, work styles are better used as a framework or guide to better understand team dynamics.

Why should leaders care about work styles?

A good team leader understands that maximizing an individual’s strengths can only result in a more productive and communicative team. When work styles come into play, you can identify potential gaps in your team and assign project components to those who excel in the area. Compromising becomes easier when you can appeal to someone else’s style by essentially repositioning a perspective.

Managers should also care about work styles, because a harmonious team means more morals and who doesn’t want a happy team?

The different styles of work

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of frameworks available to you. In this article, we will focus on the DiSC model first described by William Moulton Marston in his 1928 book Emotions of Normal People.

Although there are four different quadrants, people can be a mixture of two types. The two axes determine your focus orientation (task vs. people) and your decision-making speed (fast vs. moderate).

  • D for dominance: This guy is direct and like results. They tend to have strong opinions and are motivated by competition and success.
  • me for influence: This guy is great at influencing and convincing others. They are usually motivated by social recognition.
  • S for consistency: This guy is patient and likes to help others. You tend to be motivated by collaboration and team effort.
  • C for conscientiousness: This guy is analytical and careful. You tend to be motivated to acquire knowledge and demonstrate it.

Manage the different styles of work

Because the different collaborative styles have different communication and project goal values, knowing how someone works can help you lead the team better. You can watch out for behavioral tendencies and resolve conflicts before they explode.
Tips for managing different DiSC personalities
This helpful guide explains in detail how to use the DiSC model to communicate, motivate, and identify areas that may be missing. When you pay for a review, you will likely get additional details on each specific type, as well as a card from each person. We all have a combination of the four styles of work, but most are strongest in one or two ways.

5 ways to improve collaboration based on work styles

Aside from knowing the different styles of your team and their preferred ways of working together, there are a few other ways you can improve the way your team works together in general.

  1. Create psychological security Within a team, people feel safe to raise ideas and concerns without fear of retaliation or embarrassment. The ability to bring one’s authentic self into work and to feel safe in a team carries a lot of weight.
  2. Set up workflows in a team for effective productivity and time optimization. When workflows are personalized, it recognizes that people work differently and shows that team leaders prioritize this.
  3. Use tools that make collaboration easier because without the right tools, you can only get this far in a team. Business collaboration tools like Asana, Jira, Slack, and Zoom are all ways to collaborate across different personality types. Some tools are better than others in certain areas, and it’s often best to evaluate what works for your team and keep the number of tools to a minimum to avoid switching back and forth.
  4. Create a culture of recognition to raise morale and make people feel like part of the team. Most people want to be recognized for their success and work, although preferences in method vary. Private or public, make sure you know how individuals like to be recognized. You don’t want to embarrass someone in front of an entire company if they’d prefer a smaller group discovery scenario.
  5. Understand how remote working can affect the way you work together. Working remotely comes with its own set of challenges, and remote team management is no different. If you can no longer just stop by a colleague’s desk for a quick chat or create a meeting on the fly, you have to set up processes that emulate the lack of collaboration.

While working remotely, building a relationship with teammates must shift from an occasional desk visit to a scheduled virtual social hour. Use a variety of communication methods: email, video, phone, and documents to address different styles.

To become active

Now that you’re a little more familiar with work and collaboration styles, it’s time to put the research into action. There are a number of free online assessments as well as paid consulting firms that help on an individual level.

Use the results of these tests to change the way you communicate and help others do better at their jobs. A team that plays to its strengths is more effective and more productive. And while you’re making your team better, it doesn’t hurt to realize that many people are on the verge of burnout. Promote habits that combat burnout to avoid an overwhelmed team.