If you believe that "great minds think alike," and you lean toward working with people who are similar to you, you just might want revisit that conviction. Even if you're naturally drawn to people who are like you, you'll probably be more productive if you work with people who have ideas and work styles that are different from yours. The key is being willing to adapt, which most of us find challenging.
A new OfficeTeam study suggests that while most (70 percent) professionals surveyed said it could be challenging to team up with colleagues who don't have styles similar to their own, two-thirds (66 percent) recognized benefits to collaborating with those who approach things differently.
"At work, employees who have differing perspectives and approaches bring fresh ideas to projects," said OfficeTeam executive director Robert Hosking. "You can improve team collaboration by taking advantage of complementary strengths and adapting your own work style to suit the situation."
Adaptation seems to be key, especially when you're adapting to the work style of a superior. According to the survey, 65 percent of administrative professionals said they adapt to their manager's work style to a great extent; 58 percent indicated their supervisor only adjusts "somewhat" to their preferences, and 14 percent said their manager doesn't adjust to their style at all. So you can see that it's easier for you to change your own style than to expect your manager to adapt to yours.
Here are three tips for overcoming conflicting work styles and working better with your colleagues:
- Take the high road. Your attitude, effort level and reactions are all in your control, but others' behavior usually isn't. If an issue arises or you disagree with someone, always be positive and professional. You don't have to be best friends with all your co-workers -- you just need to find a way to collaborate effectively with them.
- Work with what you have. Accept the people you're working with as they are, perceived quirks and all. If your colleagues prefer scheduled meetings and you like to simply drop by, try it their way to reduce conflict.
- Get on the same page. Simple miscommunication -- about things like the desired outcome of a project -- can cause friction. Arrange a face-to-face meeting with a colleague to make sure you're on the same page, and follow it up with an e-mail recapping what you discussed.
Additional advice for improving team collaboration can be found in Your Work Style in Color: a Colorful Approach to Working Relationships.
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