We spend more time with the people we work with then with our partner at home. In both cases we can get frustrated. This is down to many reasons, often because of different personalities and working styles.
We take a long time developing a relationship with a loved one. From a first date over coffee, longer talks over meals and whilst walking. Then chilling out and spending longer periods of time together. We get to know the other person and see how we gel. We don’t want a twin, but someone who brings out the best in us. They bring some order to our unstructured life perhaps or encourage us to try new things. They support us and want us to do well, they are tactful as they tell us things.
Starting a new job is different. We barely get to know the people we will work with. We don’t understand their working styles.
The interview, or initial discussions are focused on trying to impress, we want the job and want to get the job offer. So sometimes we can ignore some key signs.
As you meet key colleagues
If you can, think about their working style.
How does it compare to yours?
- Do they like the detail or prefer the big picture?
- Are they always on time to meetings or a bit lax on time, and how does that compare to you?
- Will they let you down, change their mind?
- Then think about their views, how fixed are they? How do they cope with disagreement?
- Clearly there are more areas you could compare so this is a good start.
Our working style is influenced by our personality
Work with someone high on Introversion and you are likely to have more email correspondence than face to face chats, and their preference is likely to want an agenda in advance rather than to respond to ‘off the cuff’ requests.
With someone higher on Extraversion they will want to talk more, may interrupt your chain of thought and may give the impression of a decision made when they are more likely to be sharing ideas front of mind.
Neither is better – just different but if we differ it can take some adjusting to. So, we need to understand each other and ideally to meet half-way.
Some people prefer facts and can interpret things literally, others look for the new and what’s different.
I know that I have lots of ideas, indeed, more than are good for me. It helps when I work on projects where needed, and lead to great success as an employee, and a bad experience when this wasn’t appreciated by a boss with a very different personality style to me.
Some are logical and use reasoning to make decisions, others are more in touch with feelings and values.
Some like to plan and see planning as a way to efficiency, whilst others prefer the challenge of having to adapt to changing situations and work best with a tight deadline.
There’s far more to personality than this, and often organisations will use personality assessments as a means of understanding organisational fit and it’s something that interests many and they use a personality assessment like the MBTI or 15FQ.
Do you understand yourself?
Do you know about how you can do your best work?
Do you know where you struggle and how best to deal with weaker areas? Assessments, 360-degree feedback and open discussions with a coach/mentor can help expand your area of self-understanding.
The greater clarity on how best you work the better you will spot things that don’t quite work for you. That’s not to say you will turn a job down, and people leave/join, and we can never guarantee your new boss/colleagues will be a perfect match.
What can help understand work styles
Have the conversation about how they will manage you and how you prefer to be managed. Look for them to listen and be happy to adapt. It might take time as you may have to prove yourself. You can’t expect to be left to work without any boss involvement till you have proved you can deliver.
When you are more junior or lack some confidence, it can help to arrange regular feedback to discuss your performance in your new job. Be assertive to ask for regular meetings, that way if anything isn’t going right you get to know sooner, not at the end of your probationary period.
Ask the questions
- What do you want to find out about the working styles of the people you will work with?
- Think about how much time you will spend with the individual?
- Find out about current relationships, especially if joining a small organisation. What’s the dynamic like?
- How open are they to adapting? Would they be willing to adapt to bring out the best in you or is the onus on you to make a change?
And how important is this new job for you? If the pay is great and it will enhance your CV you may be prepared to compromise more. But think about the impact on your health and stress levels. It’s worth thinking about the consequences. You may still say yes, but you go in with a better understanding.