GuidesEmployee experienceWhat are the 6 work styles, and how can they work together?

What are the 6 work styles, and how can they work together?

Last updated

6 March 2024


Dovetail Editorial Team

Reviewed by

Warren Jonas ACC

Bringing a diverse team together is a challenge that can pay off beautifully. With different minds tackling the same problem, you can reach key goals faster than the competition. However, while collaboration is key to seamless operations, people with different work styles could have trouble coming together to solve an issue.

A work style is an approach a person takes to completing tasks. In a team with six members, each person could have their own style. Understanding each style is essential to figuring out how everyone can work together.

What are work styles?

A work style is a combination of your skills, experience, and personality. It affects how you approach tasks and solve problems. Each working style has its pros and cons, so a team of people with different work styles is more likely to succeed than one made up of people with similar approaches to tackling problems.

The six work styles are:

  • Cooperative

  • Detail-oriented

  • Idea-oriented

  • Logical

  • Practical

  • Supportive

To make the most out of each work style in your team, don't just evaluate each team member. Start with yourself. Understanding which style works for you can help you guide the rest of your team to capitalize on the existing skills and fill the potential gaps.

A leader who recognizes the importance of work styles and studies each member's style is more likely to be rewarded with the team’s cooperation.

Elements that determine work style

When determining a work style, there are several elements to consider. The combination of these can help you classify your team members and understand your own style.

Task management

The way a person manages their tasks, whether large projects or weekly activities, shows their approach to:

  • Prioritization

  • Organization

  • Deadlines

Some people prefer to tackle challenging tasks first because they enjoy a sense of accomplishment and love overcoming obstacles. Others start with simpler tasks and build momentum to make it easier to deal with complex tasks.

Once you understand how each team member manages tasks, you can adjust the workflow to optimize productivity.

Communication preferences

The way a person prefers to communicate can determine the approach they take to achieving goals.

Some people are more comfortable with written communication, such as emails, because it allows them time to compose their thoughts. They may feel lost and uneasy during a live meeting.

Others prefer verbal exchanges, such as meetings or phone calls. These employees enjoy real-time discussions because they seem more productive.

If you adjust the communication methods to work with your team members' preferences, the efficiency of the team will increase.

Level of independence

Some workers thrive in team settings and prefer to brainstorm with other members, preferably in a real-time environment. They enjoy the immediate feedback and are inspired by other people's ideas.

Others work best when they have space to think and act independently. The isolated approach opens up their creativity and powers their problem-solving skills. Leaving these people "alone" is much more productive than putting them in a room with 10 team players.


The decision-making process can also be different for your team members. Some people make decisions quickly. They make conclusions based on instinct and feel comfortable with taking risks. These people make great decision-makers, especially if they have the rest of the team supplying them with high-quality data.

Others take a highly analytical approach. They gather data, conduct research, and weigh all the pros and cons before making a decision.

These two types of people can work together seamlessly to make an educated decision. It's up to the leader to recognize their skills and assign roles accordingly.

Response to stress

Stress can be both beneficial and detrimental to productivity. Some people thrive under pressure and are motivated by tight deadlines and challenging tasks. Others may struggle with stress and require strategies to manage it effectively.

Putting a person who can't handle stress properly in a stressful situation is likely to result in errors. Understanding this aspect of work style is important for preventing downtime.

Approach to feedback

Successful leaders take advantage of employee feedback to streamline productivity. However, different people react to feedback in different ways. This is all part of their work style.

Some workers welcome regular feedback and view it as a tool for improvement. They appreciate constructive criticism and seek growth opportunities.

Others may prefer their feedback to be delivered less frequently. For them, it should come in a highly constructive and supportive manner.

Learning preferences

Work style can also define how someone learns new things. Some people learn best through hands-on experience. They prefer to dive into tasks and learn as they go.

Others need more time for reading and researching. They have to gather and process information before applying it.

Some work better as part of a group, while self-paced online courses are more effective for others.

When arranging workplace training, leaders must keep these preferences in mind. Otherwise, they will waste time and money for the company and the employee.


While flexible working is currently a popular approach, not everyone prefers this. Some workers prefer an environment with clear structures and routines. They work best in a stable, predictable environment. Others excel in more flexible situations, where they can adapt their approaches as they go.

Finding the right balance between structure and flexibility may not be easy. However, without it, some team members could become disengaged.

Why understanding work styles is important

Understanding your team's work style may not seem to be an integral part of the work process. However, if you don’t pay attention to this, they are less likely to adapt to each other's needs and may fail to be productive.

Besides productivity optimization, there are other key benefits to leaders understanding work styles and implementing this knowledge.

Enhanced collaboration

When you learn how each team member prefers to work, you can assign tasks and create work groups that align with their strengths. Besides creating a more productive collaborative environment, this approach can significantly increase employee satisfaction.


By understanding the work styles of your employees, you can practice inclusive leadership. Each employee brings a different perspective to the table. But you can only take full advantage of this if you know how to adapt to their work style.

If you accommodate the differences, you can create an environment where everyone feels heard and valued. This inclusivity can foster a sense of belonging and encourage diverse contributions to the work process.

Improved work-life balance

Understanding work styles can also contribute to better work-life balance for employees. When you recognize their work-style preferences, you can provide the necessary flexibility. For example, an employee with children may have a higher demand for flexible work hours.

With this approach, your team members can manage their tasks in the most efficient way possible.

This promotes overall well-being, reduces stress, and enhances job satisfaction. As a result, productivity and employee retention go up.

Effective resource allocation

Each employee has different strengths, skills, and preferences. By classifying their work styles, you can align tasks to their abilities. This optimizes the use of resources such as time and expertise.

A work-style approach to resource allocation reduces the risk of burnout, decreases frustration, and helps you avoid resource waste.

Six work styles

You can break down your employees' approach to handling tasks into six styles.


Workers who prefer the cooperative work style prioritize collaboration and open communication. Their key traits are:

  • Approachability

  • Supportiveness

  • Willingness to contribute to the success of the team

These people actively seek input from other team members. They are motivated and inspired by diverse perspectives. Cooperative workers are also great at building consensus.

However, these people may have problems with decision-making. They tend to prioritize consensus over efficiency. This could lead to groupthink and lower productivity.

An example of a cooperative work style is a manager who encourages collaboration and fosters an inclusive work environment but may have issues with working independently.


Detail-oriented workers pay close attention to the specifics. They focus on accuracy and have a meticulous approach to achieving each task. Their key traits include:

  • High level of organization

  • Order and stability

  • Strong eye for detail

These people excel in tasks that require precision and quality control. However, they may struggle with time management because achieving perfection often takes up more time than is available. These people are also prone to perfectionism which has significant downsides.

Examples of detail-oriented employees are accountants and others who work with numbers and have to achieve perfect precision in a task before moving to the next one.


Idea-oriented work style is the opposite of the detail-oriented approach. These people are creative and innovative. They are great at generating new ideas and solutions. Their key traits are:

  • Innovation

  • Imagination

  • Open-mindedness

These workers are stars of brainstorming sessions. They enjoy exploring unconventional approaches and inspire others to incorporate their idea into operations.

However, such employees can struggle with implementation. They need support with translating their ideas into real-life plans.

An example of an idea-oriented worker is a marketing strategist who constantly seeks innovative solutions and shares them with the team for implementation.


Practical workers prioritize efficiency and organization. They are great at creating and following structured plans. These people can meet the strictest deadlines without losing efficiency. Their key traits are:

  • Focus on a practical solution

  • Goal orientation

  • Pragmatism

These people are great at prioritizing tasks, managing resources, and executing the toughest plans. However, they often have an issue with adapting to changes quickly and thinking outside the box. The emphasis on practicality doesn't leave enough room for creativity.

An example of a practical work style is an engineer who excels in planning and executing a task within given constraints. They provide structure in a team setting and keep everyone on board.


Logical workers rely on reasoning, analysis, and evidence to make decisions. They are great at problem-solving. The key traits of these employees are:

  • Rationality

  • Objectiveness

  • Quick problem-solving

These people value accuracy and precision. They can easily identify patterns and make logical connections. In a team setting, logical workers provide a rational perspective and data-backed insights. However, they can have issues embracing ambiguity and relying on intuition to make decisions.

An example of a logical work style is a scientist or statistician who relies on data-driven decision-making and logical reasoning for problem-solving.


A supportive worker prioritizes helping others achieve their goals. These people know how to build strong relationships, provide emotional support, and offer guidance. Their key traits are:

  • Empathy

  • Compassion

  • Reliability

A supportive work style involves fostering a positive work environment and creating a sense of trust and collaboration. However, these employees have issues with setting boundaries and paying enough attention to their own needs. This can lead to burnout and lower satisfaction rates.

An example of a supportive worker is a mentor, coach, or human resource professional. Their goal is to provide guidance and support to employees. These people are an excellent addition to any team.

How to structure your work around different work styles

Once you identify each employee's work style, you have to revamp your teamwork structure. To do this, implement the following practices.

Recognize the right for each work style's existence

While some work styles in your team may not seem efficient or convenient for your current goals, don't try to change them. Even if you prefer to work with someone who practices a similar work style, this approach reduces overall productivity.

Get over the work-style bias and encourage your employees to do the same. Adapting to other work styles requires flexibility. This begins with fostering an inclusive workspace.

Get ready to find compromises

Finding compromises and ensuring balance are among the most important qualities possessed by successful leaders. You may need to make minor adjustments to each work style to ensure seamless collaboration.

To achieve the desired results, leaders often begin by adjusting their own approach to tackling tasks.

Be ready to acknowledge imperfection

Instead of criticizing your employees for their inability to make quick decisions, participate in live meetings, or tackle tough problems before going on to easy ones, you need to be ready to acknowledge imperfections.

What may be an imperfection today could turn into a strong trait for the next project. By acknowledging others’ weaknesses, you can learn how to improve your own work style.

Schedule regular meetings

One-on-one time with each employee can help you understand their work style and learn how to leverage this style in the most effective way possible.

During these meetings, go over the most convenient way to structure your work for all team members and discuss issues that may lead to misunderstandings.

Capitalize on strengths

When creating a team for a new project, knowledge of work styles can play a major role. By knowing where each person’s strength lies, you can ensure all bases are covered. You can capitalize on the strengths while contributing to a collaborative environment.

For example, an urgent project can benefit from idea-oriented and practical workers. Meanwhile, a complex ongoing task can require more detail-oriented personnel.

Ensure clarity

All work styles can benefit from full transparency. When you initiate a project, get everyone together to discuss objectives, goals, and tactics. At this meeting, communicate how the project relates to the company's values and mission. Be clear about the role each team member plays in executing the project.

Depending on their work style, the final result may seem different for each person. It's the leader's role to make sure everyone can see how their result contributes to achieving the main goal.

Making the most of each work style

Classifying your team members according to their work style can be highly beneficial for fostering a productive environment in your workplace. Every style has pros and cons for each project. Understanding how to leverage each one to create the "perfect" team is key to success.

It's up to leaders and managers to identify their employees' work styles and use this information to achieve the company's goals. Implementing this approach into your management strategy can help you stay ahead of the competition.


What is work management style?

Work management style is the way workers apply their skills, personality, and experience to handling tasks and solving problems.

What is a work style test?

A work style test is an assessment that can help employees identify the way they tackle tasks. It can define strengths and weaknesses to help employers make educated management decisions.

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