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MENLO PARK, CA -- Great minds don’t always think alike, a new OfficeTeam study suggests. In fact, work styles vary based on individual personality traits, communication preferences and organizational methods. While most (70 percent) administrative 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.
The study was developed by OfficeTeam, the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and Insights Learning and Development and includes responses from 3,249 administrative professionals in the United States and Canada. The full survey results are featured in Your Work Style in Color: A Colorful Approach to Working Relationships, a research guide available at www.officeteam.com/workstyle. The guide is accompanied by an online survey where users can identify their work style.
- A majority (81 percent) of administrative professionals prefer to collaborate with colleagues who have similar work styles.
- Seventy percent of support staff said it could be challenging to team up with someone who has a different style, but 66 percent cited benefits to working with those who approach things differently.
- Sixty-five 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.
“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.”
More than eight in 10 (81 percent) administrative professionals admit they prefer working with someone who has a style similar to their own. It might sound attractive to partner with people who think and behave like you do, but most offices bring together individuals with various strengths and personalities. While 70 percent of respondents said it could be challenging to collaborate with someone with a very different style,66 percent recognized benefits to working with those who have alternate approaches.
Successfully interacting with others requires a little give and take, but, according to the study, support staff are doing more of the bending. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of administrative professionals said they “greatly” adapt to their boss’s work style. However, the majority (58 percent) indicated that their supervisor only adjusts “somewhat” to their preferences. And 14 percent said their manager doesn’t adapt to their style at all.
OfficeTeam offers three tips for overcoming conflicting work styles:
1. Take the high road. Your attitude, effort level and reactions are all in your control, even if others’ behavior 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 everyone -- you just need to find a way to collaborate effectively with them.
2. Work with what you have. Accept the person you’re working with as he is, perceived quirks and all. If your colleague prefers scheduled meetings and you like to simply drop by, try it his way to reduce conflict.
3. Get on the same page. Simple miscommunication -- such as 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 email 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.
OfficeTeam is the nation’s leading staffing service specializing in the temporary placement of highly skilled office and administrative support professionals. The company has more than 320 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.
About the International Association of Administrative Professionals
The International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) is the world’s largest association for administrative support staff, with more than 550 chapters and approximately 24,000 members and affiliates worldwide. For more information, visit
Insights is a people development company working in partnership with leading organizations across the world. Their transformational learning solutions are supported by an extensive portfolio of customizable products and services. For more information, visit www.insights.com.