I had an interesting conversation in a professional meeting the other day — “How has your job changed during the pandemic?” It was a struggle to even figure out how to start; how hasn’t it changed? Pre-pandemic work life feels so long ago, it may as well have been a past life.
Goodbye, commute! So long, office happy hours! Hello, staring at the same four walls every day and spoiling my dog with near-constant attention. There have beens pros and cons, but looking back at it now, I’m pretty proud at how I’ve handled the past two years of major professional change. Most of the time it was easy, because I know my work style so well that I know what I need to succeed. If you don’t know your work style, get ready to change your (work) life.
According to author and team management consultant Patrick Lencioni, there are six work styles that most people fall into. Even if you haven’t heard of his work styles, you’ve probably encountered Patrick’s work in corporate team-building exercises. He’s an expert in organizational health and team dynamics. His work styles are some of my favorite team content, partly because they’re so easy to remember. Together, they create the acronym ‘WIDGET:’ Wonder, Invention, Discernment, Galvanizing, Enablement, and Tenacity.
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‘Wonderer’ is a pretty flattering term for what some would call a ‘daydreamer.’ You know the type — the person who always seems a little distracted, staring out the window and thinking about the ‘what if?’ Wonderers are creative; they rarely stop brainstorming, whether they’re on their own or in a group. If you’re a Wonderer, you can find inspiration in the most unlikely of places, and your team is always excited to hear what new thing you’ve thought up.
Wonderers dance to the beat of their own drum. They have unique hobbies that you would never guess. Every time they share a new idea, their team is silently wondering, ‘How in the world did they come up with that?’
Wonderers wouldn’t get very far without their Inventor counterparts. Inventors love digging into the details and examining every possible permutation of a new idea. It’s pretty safe to assume that every project submitted by an Inventor will be accompanied by several pages of citations and a color-coordinated project plan. Rest assured that every Inventor’s browsing history is 80% Wikipedia articles.
For me, learning about Inventors was like coming across a massive neon sign that said ‘THIS IS YOU!’ Apparently, some people don’t fulfill their godmother duties by sending the mother-to-be a report on recent birthing practices with APA-style citations to relevant medical journal articles. Who knew!
Discerners are usually the ones holding the leash to make sure that Wonderers and Inventors don’t get too carried away. These are the people you trust to give a keen appraisal of a situation, whether it’s flattering or not. Discerners make great managers and leaders, because they are able to identify which ideas and projects to nourish and which to put on the chopping block. It’s not always fun to be the person saying, ‘No, we can’t/won’t do that,’ but Discerners are vitally important for keeping a project on task.
If you get itching to start something while the aforementioned workers are still in the planning stages, you might be a Galvanizer. Every team needs a Galvanizer to get things moving and encourage the team when they start to run out of steam. These workers are naturally outgoing and gregarious, always ready to befriend someone and tell them about their latest fixation.
If you’re stuck in a rut and need help to get moving, you go to the Galvanizer. Naturally a kind of ‘Jack of all trades and master of none,’ the Galvanizer is ready to lend a helpful ear and give an outside perspective. Just don’t ask them about their latest Netflix obsession, because you will never get out of that conversation until they have enthusiastically summarized every single episode
While the Galvanizers are the ‘loud and proud’ team workers, Enablers work more quietly to get the job done. Enablers might not have the flashy ideas and wild enthusiasm of their teammates, but when push comes to shove, you can always rely on them, no matter how minute the task. They clock in on time and do their work quietly. Unfortunately, that means they’re often overlooked, until they call out sick for a week and suddenly the whole team is struggling to make up for their absence.
Appreciate your Enablers! They keep the team running like a well-oiled machine. If your team doesn’t have any Enablers to keep things steady, you’re likely to get overwhelmed pretty quickly.
Tenacious workers are goal-driven; once they have an end in sight, there is no rest until they reach it. Asking a Tenacious person about their work-life balance will probably result in a brief, confused stare, and then they quickly return to whatever task you interrupted them from. When other people are tempted to throw in the towel and try again another day, the Tenacious say, ‘Not a chance! I will finish this!’
Tenacious people are famous for burning the candle at both ends, which is why they often need their team members to remind them to slow down and not bite off more than they can chew. They remind me of my friend who founded his own business while completing grad school full-time. When I asked him how he managed his time, he shrugged and said, “I only get about 5 hours of sleep each night. But I love what I’m doing, so it’s worth it.”
Lencioni further classifies these categories as areas of ‘genius,’ ‘competency,’ and ‘frustrations.’ The genius categories are what bring you joy in your job, and the competencies are additional skills that you may be good at but aren’t your main focus. The ‘frustration’ area sounds pretty self explanatory and is also a very apt way to describe me anytime someone tries to put me in the ‘tenacity’ role.
How To Find Out Your Work Style
The great thing about these work styles is that a team needs some of every type to be successful. Time and time again, psychological research finds that the most creative, efficient teams are made up of people with diverse personalities. So knowing your work style isn’t just about figuring out your own strengths and weaknesses; it also helps you to understand what kind of person your workplace may be missing. Resumes and years of experience don’t often give insight into that critical personality, so it’s all too easy for a team to end up with highly skilled candidates that all think way too similarly to work well together.
If you’re itching to dig into your work style and figure out your areas of genius, you can buy the professional assessment from Lencioni’s Table Group website.
Still not sure if this model will work for you? Check out this breakdown of one person’s assessment results.
Have your heard of Patrick Lencioni’s WIDGET work styles before? Do the work style quiz results speak true to you? Discuss with us in the comments below!
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