In every workplace, there are colleagues you naturally work well with, and others with whom you never seem to see eye-to-eye. That's because everyone approaches teamwork differently — and your mindset isn't always going to match up with others'.
Working well as a team means knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, and how they mesh or clash with those of your colleagues. To help workers discover their personal collaboration style, Web-conferencing software provider PGi created a list of five different "personalities" and what they bring to the table, along with tips on how to best work with other types on the team. Find your own style by reading the statements below and determining which ones you most closely identify with.
- You feel you know what's best for the good of the project and want to share that with your team members.
- You like to monitor progress and constantly seek updates from the team.
- You feel a project will fall apart without your vigilance.
Tip from PGi: Monitoring and managing are good things, but your team members need to be accountable for their own responsibilities to remain engaged. Give continuous, constructive feedback, and be as transparent as possible about processes and decision-making with the team. [Playing Nice: 5 Tips for Better Cross-Department Collaboration]
- You keep detailed notes and records of each stage of progress.
- You save all emails, links and draft revisions related to the project, just in case it's needed.
- You're quick to pull data from your records to help team members avoid a mistake.
Tip from PGi: Stay as organized as possible so you can find the information you need, when you need it. Also, don't focus exclusively on maintaining and managing your own data — remember, you're part of a team.
- You're motivated by the desire to understand every detail of a project.
- You often use your thorough knowledge of project metrics to try to steer the team.
- You're quick to cite statistics to prove or disprove ideas.
Tip from PGi: If you detect a problem, diplomatically communicate your concerns through appropriate channels to the appropriate people. Don't blast your alarming metrics out to everyone.
- You're always on the lookout for materials that will be helpful to your team members.
- You're among the first to respond to and update others on project communications because you want to keep everyone in the loop.
- You sometimes find it difficult to complete your own tasks because you're so busy taking care of your team.
Tip from PGi: It's possible to be too helpful and overly enthusiastic, so pay close attention to any communication guidelines your team may have about what to share with whom. Consider removing colleagues who don't respond to your recommendations from your "update list."
The Boy (or Girl) Scout
- You're prepared for any and every situation that may arise during the course of a project.
- You are always willing to volunteer your assistance to your colleagues.
- You truly enjoy working in a team setting and are quick to take the feedback and suggestions of others.
Tip from PGi: Be open to ideas that sound like they're completely at odds with your own. Sometimes the smallest bit of common ground can produce the most innovative solutions.
Advice for leaders
J. Scott Tapp, executive vice president of sales & marketing at PGi, said it's important to identify and recognize the collaboration styles of each of your colleagues and approach teamwork accordingly.
"I've managed team members who thrive in meetings, feeding off the energy of other attendees to power their productivity," Tapp told Business News Daily. I've also had team members that sit quietly through a meeting without saying a word, only to email a brilliant takeaway to the team after the fact. If I didn't understand these different collaboration styles, I might think that the meeting-heavy team member was wasting time, or that the silent-attendee member wasn't contributing."
However, tailoring your approach doesn't necessarily mean catering to each team member's individual whims. Rather, it's about understanding what makes your team comfortable enough to perform at their highest level.
"By knowing where [the team's] comfort zones are, I can rest assured that they're being challenged and the collective team is producing our best work," Tapp said. "In order for leaders and their teams to evolve, all participants must feel like true collaborators who are at liberty to question, to analyze and to investigate unimagined possibilities."