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Meeting your goals in a challenging work environment can be tough. Last minute surprises, fast changing priorities and ineffective resource allocation can throw a wrench into even the best of plans. 

To meet their goals, managers should learn how to identify each individual member of their team’s work style, and allocate tasks in accordance with the strengths and weaknesses of each. By matching tasks to work styles, you can roll with punches while boosting performance across the board.

In their seminal work on the subject, Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships, co-authors Kim Christford and Suzanne Vickberg took a data-driven approach to their research which resulted in the identification of 4 main work styles. 

  1. Big Picture Thinkers — If the sound of a highly structured workplace environment with stringent rules and complex processes makes you cringe, you’re probably a pioneerioneer in your work style. Pioneers are risk takers who spread energy and imagination among their team members. Less into small details, and more into gut feelings, pioneers are probably the best creative problem solvers there are.
  2. Look Before You Leapers — Do you hate chaotic environments where roles and responsibilities are fluid and undefined? That means you’re a Guardian in your work style. Guardians find peace when there’s a clear direction and they know what they’re supposed to do. They need to be alone in order to focus so that they can prepare and conduct due diligence. When focus and attention to small details is needed, you want to have a Guardian on it.
  3. People-Persons — Are you the type of person who thrives on the harmony between those around you? Does the sound of collaboration and social niceties make you smile like a fool? Sounds like you are an Integrator! Empathetic and diplomatic, Integrators build a consensus that draws diverse teams together to form an unbreakable unit.  
  4. Go-Getters — Does the thought of winning and challenge give you goosebumps of excitement? Does the phrase goal-oriented seem like an ongoing theme in your yet-to-be written autobiography? Hello there Driver! Drivers are all about the results. Competition and challenge motivate them to achieve more, and anything that gets in the way of their ambition is considered an obstruction to be removed through the application of brute logic. 

So how do we use this research to our advantage? First you’ve got to figure out which workstyle best describes each individual on your team. The way to do it is eerily similar to playing a hand of poker. You’ve got to look out for the ‘tells’ that offer insights into the work style each member gravitates towards. With a little bit of covert observation, you’d be surprised how much you can understand about each individual’s respective work style. 

  • Does your team member spend lots of time socializing and networking?
  • Does your colleague remain laser-focused on a goal until it’s been achieved, or does she constantly switch between different tasks?
  • Is your team member highly organized and detail-oriented?

Each work style brings different benefits to the table. It’s up to you to make sure that you align team members to the aspects that suit their individual style. 

  • Let Drivers do the driving. Give these goal-oriented problem solvers responsibility for staying on budget. 
  • Guardians should do the guarding. Detail-oriented Guardians should be in charge of organizing timelines, milestones and generally keeping the project on track to meet the deadline on time.
  • Integrators keep everyone on the same page. Put your emotionally-oriented colleague on top of building relationships with stakeholders and selling new ideas. Give them the mandate of communicating your ideas throughout the organization.
  • Give Pioneers room for creativity. Let them handle brainstorming sessions and give them room to find innovative ideas and novel ways to execute.

Clarizen Go gives you a simple way to manage tasks and projects that gives you flexibility to align work styles with specific tasks in a project. Let Guardians manage the show by setting up workspaces and milestones to reflect critical deadlines. Assign tasks and customize stages to match the strengths of your team members.

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