Secrets to Winning at Office Politics
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Coworker Relationships

Understanding Work Style Differences

(From Secrets to Winning at Office Politics by Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.)

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Even if you are a cooperative and friendly person, there are probably certain people that you simply do not like to work with because you always wind up feeling frustrated, aggravated, or disappointed. Frequently, frustration with co-workers is the result of work style incompatibilities.
People have many differences in the way that they approach tasks and projects – and certain pairings seem to lead to predictable problems. The table below lists some of the most common work style opposites. See if any of your own difficult relationships reflect one or more of these differences.

View of Opposite Producers Empathizers View of Opposite
See Empathizers as touchy-feely & overly sensitive. Producers want to get right to work and focus on results. Their enjoyment comes from the tasks they do. Relationships are seen as a distraction from the work.
Empathizers like to get to know their colleagues. Their enjoyment comes from working with others. Relationships are seen as an integral part of the work. See Producers as insensitive & boring.
  Visionaries Implementers  
See Implementers as short-sighted and unable to think strategically. Visionaries are motivated by the possibility of creating a better future. They are interested in formulating long-range plans and exploring new possibilities. Implementers are motivated by the desire for current work to be done properly. They want to be sure that details are taken care of and immediate problems are solved.
See Visionaries as out-of-touch and impractical.
  Planners Movers  
See Movers as rushed and impulsive. Planners want to have well-thought-out plans for solving a problem or implementing a project. They like to assess costs and benefits, anticipate issues, and develop back-up plans before taking action. Movers want to take immediate action when confronted with a problem or a project. They like to quickly implement solutions, learn from the results, and make corrections as needed. See Planners as slow and overly cautious.
  Controllers Independents  
See Independents as resistant and uncommunicative. Controllers want to be sure that everything happens as expected and that people do what they should. They like to direct the actions of others. Independents like to work on their own without interference. They want to understand the goal to be achieved, then be left alone to accomplish it. See Controllers as autocratic and power-hungry.
  Organizers Adapters  
See Adapters as disorganized and careless. Organizers are good at bringing order out of chaos and creating policies, procedures, and systems. They feel most comfortable working in situations where the structure and expectations are clear. Adapters are good at adjusting to change and quickly shifting direction when necessary. They prefer working in an environment that is not highly structured and allows flexibility. See Organizers as obsessive and uptight.
  Innovators Traditionalists  
See Traditionalists as unimaginative and dull. Innovators enjoy coming up with new ideas and finding ways to improve products and processes. They find change stimulating and interesting. They like working where creativity is encouraged. Traditionalists value time-tested methods and approaches. They like to find a process or solution that works and stick with it. They value stability, predictability, and consistency. See Innovators as flighty and unrealistic.

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