Differing Work Styles Can Help Team Performance

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To the ILF it is clear that the best teams leverage diversity to come up with true innovative solutions and to achieve longterm success. A recent article on this subject published by The Harvard Business Review has caught our attention. We are delighted to share with you the key findings of the article.

In the sense of team performance and innovation, diversity goes beyond gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and/or age. In fact, differences in working style – the way in which we think about, organise, and complete tasks – have the greatest impact on performance. But such differences are much more difficult to determine.

The article suggests paying attention to detail and observe your team members, similar to reading the betting patterns of your opponents at a poker game. It is then when managers can play to the strengths of their teams, and give each team member tailored coaching.

The article highlights that in any office there are four basic types of people:

  • Logical, analytical, and data-oriented
  • Organized, plan-focused, and detail-oriented
  • Supportive, expressive, and emotionally-oriented
  • Strategic, integrative, and idea-oriented

These working styles are fairly ingrained. Therefore the article recommends building diversity through recruitment, rather then development. In that sense the author highlights:

“If you find that one or two work styles are overrepresented, it’s probably time to add some fresh blood to your team.”

The following leadership techniques offer a way to leverage each team members strengths:

  1. Your logical, analytical colleague is at her best when she is processing data and solving complex problems. She will focus like a laser on achieving any stated goal or outcome and will ensure that you stay on budget.
  2. Your organized, detail oriented colleague’s strengths are in establishing order, structuring projects, and accurately completing tasks. He will ensure work is completed on time.
  3. Your supportive, expressive colleague is most skilled at building relationships, facilitating team interaction, and persuading or selling ideas. She will keep all stakeholders up to date on work and effectively communicate ideas through the organization.
  4. Your big-picture, integrative colleague can serve as a catalyst for change, brainstorming solutions to problems and synthesizing disparate thinking. He will drive innovation, ensure variety in both thought and execution and keep you moving forward.

In addition it is important to make sure that everyone understands the value each team member brings to the table and give people assignments in which they can use their skills to best effect.

Original article published on the Harvard Business Review 3rd of April 2015 by Carson Tage. Read the full article here

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