To build a high-performance team, embrace diverse work styles

Most offices have four types of workers, expert says

Leaders should build teams that have diverse work styles in order to merge complimentary skill sets and achieve long-term goals, workplace productivity expert Carson Tate writes in the Harvard Business Review.

Tate says that most offices have four distinct types of workers:

  • Logical and data-oriented;
  • Organized and detail-oriented;
  • Supportive and emotionally oriented; and
  • Strategic and idea-oriented.

When team members' work styles are too similar, Tate says, performance suffers. For instance, "If everyone in your group has a big-picture, strategic, intuitive approach to work and chafes against the structure of project plans, you might frequently be over budget and behind schedule," she writes.

Which office design is best for workers?

How to build and manage the right team

To create and manage the most effective team possible, Tate recommends that managers:

  • Identify work styles to build a diverse team. Tate suggests that managers determine their team members' work styles so each person's individual strengths are put to good use. Managers can evaluate a person's work style by observing "patterns or unconscious behavior," Tate says. Work styles cannot be learned, she argues, so the best way to build a diverse team is through recruitment.

  • Leverage different work styles. With a diverse team in place, the next step is to match people to projects that make the most of his or her unique approach. For instance, Tate says logical and data-oriented team members are most effective when "processing data and solving complex problems." In contrast, strategic and idea-oriented workers are at their best when they "serve as a catalyst for change, brainstorming solutions to problems and synthesizing disparate thinking," Tate writes.

Want to be a better manager? Try getting more sleep.

  • Coach staffers based on their work style. Over the long term, managers can make coaching and professional development more effective by considering work styles. For example, they can frame discussions with colleagues in a way that appeals to those individuals' core approach to problem solving. This approach will help managers communicate clearly and motivate employees better (Tate, Harvard Business Review, 4/3).

The takeaway: Managers should build a team with a diverse set of work styles so that individual strengths can be leveraged in a complimentary way.


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