What’s your working style? (And how can you work better with colleagues?)

Kathy Duncan, RN, Institute for Healthcare Improvement Faculty

Hi! My name is Kathy Duncan, and I’m one of the IHI faculty members, and I’m going to talk to you some about working styles and how to know yourself as you identify your working style.

Working style profiles are predictable patterns of behavior that others can observe. Knowledge about the styles and the style that you are can really help you improve your communication with your peers and with your teammates. Every style — whether you’re a driver or an amiable person — really does have its perks.

I would like you to note that 75 percent of the population is a different working style than you are, so understanding yourself and how you interact with others can help you. So let’s just briefly go through these working styles.

The first is an analytical person. This person is cautious. They are cautious as they make decisions. They like organization and structures. They like lines and boxes. They really don’t like too much involvement with other people; they’d rather be at their desk working on their things. And often times these people seek security, and they seek validation that they’re doing the right thing.

A driver person usually takes action and acts decisively. They like control. They like structure. They really get frustrated with inaction and people who don’t seem to be on the same page with them. Often drivers work quickly and efficiently.

Amiable people are slow taking action and making decisions. They like close personal relationships. They like to know the people that they’re working with, and they really don’t like to have interpersonal conflict, especially at work. They work slowly and cohesively with others, but often times they seek inclusion, and they want to be secure in their work group.

Expressive people are more spontaneous in their actions and the decisions. They’re more of the risk takers. They’re the people that want to test something and get out there and be innovators. They’re usually not limited by tradition. They’re not usually good with follow through. They’re really good with ideas and about dreaming and day dreaming and getting people caught up in the excitement of the dream, but not really with the follow through.

Here’s an example of four people getting on an elevator. An analytical person might get on the elevator, look around and see how many people are there, guess what their weight is, and see if they’re going to make it to the top. An amiable person is going to look at the whole elevator bank and really look to see if they can get an express elevator just for their team — just for their buddies, all of them to go together. A driver person is going to walk up, press the button, look around, and press the button three or four times because they think that’s going to make the elevator come sooner. An expressive person is going to be looking around to say, “C’mon, y’all all come in! We can all make room for one more. We’ll wait for you. C’mon, come in with us.” Just a little example of four different work styles getting on an elevator.

I would like for you to take this opportunity after this video to download the work styles inventory — it takes about 8 or 10 minutes to fill it out — this helps you sort of put yourself into one of these four work style inventory categories, and it really does help you sort of hone in on some of the perceptions others have about you.