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What’s your working style?

Independent, cooperative or proximity strategy?

What is your work style?

Everyone has his or her own working style, or strategy for work. Everyone has his or her own working style, or strategy for optimally performing while at work. There are three main working styles.

1. Independent

Some people are not happy unless they’re working solo – we’ll classify this as an independent work style. They have great difficulty working closely with other people and can’t work well under a great deal of supervision. They have to run their own show. They like to follow their instincts and see where they take them.

2. Cooperative

Others function best as part of a group. We call their working style a cooperative one. They want to share responsibility for any task they take on. They enjoy bouncing feedback off others and working collaboratively.

3. Proximity

Still others have a proximity strategy, which is somewhere in between. They prefer to work with other people while maintaining sole responsibility for a task. They are in charge but not alone. They get to have social connection with their coworkers while pursuing their own projects.

If you want to get the most out of your employees, or your children, or those you supervise, figure out their working style – as we discussed in the previous metaprogram, push vs. pull – the ways that they’re most effective.

Sometimes you’ll find an employee who is brilliant but always seems to be going against the grain at your company. He always has to do things his way. Now he just might not be cut out to be an employee – maybe he has an independent working style and is more suited to become an entrepreneur. He may be the kind of person who has to run his own business, and sooner or later he probably will if you do not provide an avenue of expression.

If you have a valuable employee like this, you should try to find a way to maximize his or her talents and give them as much autonomy as possible. If you make him part of a team, he’ll drive everyone crazy. But if you give him as much independence as possible, he can prove himself to be invaluable. That’s what the new concepts of entrepreneurship are all about.

Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle? It’s the idea that all people are promoted to the level of their incompetence. One reason this happens is that employers are often insensitive to their employees’ working styles. There are people who work best in a cooperative setting. They thrive on a large amount of feedback and human interaction. Would you reward their good work by putting them in charge of some new autonomous venture? Not if you want to make use of their best talents. That doesn’t mean you have to keep a person at the same level. But it does mean you should give promotions and new work experiences that utilize the person’s best talents, not his worst ones. Just as everyone has their own leadership style, an employee’s true working style should be recognized and worked with accordingly.

Likewise, many people with proximity strategies want to be part of a team but need to do their own work alone. In any structure, there are jobs that nurture all three strategies. The key is to have the acuity to know how people work best and then find a task they thrive in.

How can you honor your team’s individual working styles? Here’s an exercise to do today. After reading this article, practice eliciting people’s metaprograms. Ask them:

Does the person pay attention to you while you are asking these questions? Are they interested in your response or are they occupied elsewhere? Do they respond with lots of answers about themselves, or do they discuss how they appreciate a team-work environment? These are only a few of the questions you can ask to successfully elicit the metaprograms we’ve discussed. If you don’t get the information you need, rephrase the question until you do. This should help you to determine working styles and figure out if this new candidate will be right for your business.

Header image © Shutterstock/wavebreakmedia

Tony Robbins

Tony Robbins is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, philanthropist and the nation’s #1 Life and Business Strategist. Author of five internationally bestselling books, including the recent New York Times #1 best-seller UNSHAKEABLE, Mr. Robbins has empowered more than 50 million people from 100 countries through his audio, video and life training programs. He created the #1 personal and professional development program of all time, and more than 4 million people have attended his live seminars.

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