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Are Different Work Styles Creating Conflict in Your Organization?

  • Posted by: Ellen Kandell
If you were asked to do something, what is the first question you would ask in response? You might ask, “When do you need it?” Or perhaps you would say, “What specifically do you need?”

These responses are emblematic of each speaker’s orientation to problem solving and style of working and demonstrate how easily conflicts can arise at work.

In both our personal lives and in the workplace, conflicts are a natural part of life. At work, conflicts can occur because employees don’t agree or understand how to work well together despite their differences. Work styles, or the way in which we carry out our professional tasks, can be grounds for workplace differences and, sometimes, conflict.

To work together effectively, teams must address conflicts in a timely manner that minimizes disruption to productivity. Being able to resolve team conflict is paramount to the success of any organization.

So, what makes workstyles conflict, and what can businesses do to ameliorate such conflict? You are probably familiar with the differences in leadership styles, such as being bold versus laid-back or being technical versus hands-off. Just as there are differences in leadership styles, so are there differences in work styles. Conflicts can occur when team members have different opinions and preferences on how to accomplish tasks.

For example, some employees work quickly and pivot to the next task as soon as possible, while others take on tasks more slowly and deliberately. While some people need guidance every step of the way, others are guided internally and require little direction to finish a project.

The way in which businesses organize productivity can also reflect work style differences. Some people do their best work alone, while others prefer to work in groups. Motivation plays a part here as well. While some people get more work done under pressure, others like to get a head start and finish their tasks early.

When all of these different styles intermingle on one team, workplace conflicts can occur. Employees depend on each other for their individual success but they might take a different approach to the work. Such conflict creates frustration, disrupts timelines, and causes stress.

Teams can avoid these types of conflict by recognizing that everyone’s work style is different and learning how to collaborate to realize the same goals despite having those differences. Just as with other workplace differences, the idea of mutual respect and understanding plays a role. We may prefer a particular work style, but while working in groups, teams must collaborate to achieve outcomes greater than one mind could create alone.

By setting transparent expectations and recognizing each team member’s strengths, teams can turn the threat of conflict into an opportunity for growth. The right communication can also minimize the disruption. Establishing the right tone regarding workplace culture can open up the channels of communication, decrease stress, and present opportunities for team members to view each other as more than just co-workers.
Author: Ellen Kandell

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