Much like you have specific tastebuds for various cuisines or prefer to text over calling your closest pals, the further you progress in your career, the more you’ll solidify your working style. While your colleagues may excel in afternoon brainstorming sessions, you may experience your best creative flow in the early hours of the morning., halfway through your espresso. Or, you might enjoy a social setting to get you through your deadlines, meetings and initiatives, while your employee finds genius cranking through assignments solo.
That’s why career experts explain the vast importance of not only identifying your working style, but also communicating it to your manager. Having this alignment will empower you to consistently operate at your top potential instead of taking a seat on the professional struggle bus.
“Trying to do work in a way that is opposite your work style is like trying to push water uphill. It goes against the grain, and that can impact the level of your performance,” explains career coach Cheryl Palmer.
If you’re not sure of your unique advantages, the pros have advice on figuring out how you will work the most effectively, efficiently and happily:
You’re a morning glory
Unlike your spouse who needs a few alarms and a not-so-gentle nudge to greet the sun, you’re always amped to tackle the day, no coffee jolt needed. If you find it easy to sign up for — and show up for — a 5 a.m. bootcamp class — you might lean toward a morning working style. As the name suggests, professionals who fall into this category are lucky to have an innate morning energy, inspiring their first-rate work long before many co-workers arrive to clock in. You can project this early riser quality into your work culture, creating a positive environment for others to draw inspiration from.
“Make a point of popping your head into people’s offices to wish them a ‘good morning’ with a smile and some human interaction,”finance, lifestyle and business expert Katerina Cozias says. “Too often people are stuck on a computer screen, be it on their desk or on their hand, so if you’re a morning person, remind people to be people and simply make a point of saying ‘hello.’”
Since you reap the benefits of quiet, uninterrupted working sessions in the morning, you might also be among the first to experience the inevitable afternoon dip. That’s why Cozias recommends letting your employer in on our prefered time of day for meetings and collaboration. You might even be able to negotiate leaving early than other folks who get in a good two hours after you do at your next review, too.
You’re an office mom or dad
While you — hopefully — aren’t packing your colleagues’ lunches or reading them night-night stories, if you are naturally invested into the lives and happiness of those you spend 9 to 5 with, you could be an office parent-style worker. In addition to speaking to your professional strengths in terms of loyalty and honesty, Cozias also says you need consistent interaction on a personal, human level to feed your stamina. To amplify your approach, Cozias says to seek and create opportunities where you can organize team-building exercises, or simple surprise-and-delight moments where you can raise team morale.
“Treat the office to donuts the last Friday of the month. You’ll be able to leverage the giving tendency that comes naturally to you, while gaining some popularity points with colleagues in the meantime,” she says.
You might also let your employer identify areas of improvement to create a more cohesive and workspace and culture, earning you additional brownie points for your commitment to the company. (This also might win them over the next time you bargain for half-day-Fridays during the summer.)
You’re a lone wolf
It’s not that you’re an introvert or even someone who dislikes group settings, but when it comes to sticking your nose to the grindstone, you’d prefer to fly all by yourself to complete projects. Since constantly sporting your headphones might come across as standoffish or like you’re not being a team player, being candid with your boss about your working style is especially important, according to workplace expert and career coach, Amy Cooper Hakim. Since the new trend of open office blueprints is one that many startups are gravitating toward, you may need to restructure your physical space to be productive. This could mean a different area of the office or the option to work from home during crunch time.
“You may need to work offsite or in a quiet area when you have a major deliverable pending. Tell your boss, ‘In order for me to be most productive, I need to work on this deliverable in a quiet space. I am happy to work remotely or to come in early tomorrow to ensure this is finished,’” Hakim gives as an example.
Cozias also adds that even if you flourish all by yourself, you shouldn’t shy away from social interactions that will build trust within your team. This doesn’t mean you have to attend meetings you find unnecessary or contribute to corporate gossip, but making a consistent effort to collaborate in some way establish your reputation.
“Organize weekly 30-minute group brainstorming sessions, where people who typically work in closed-private offices can congregate, bring their lunches and share personal stories. Here, they can explain how their experiences may be able to affect idea-generation for a project at hand,” Cozias suggests. Because this gets people out of their normal routine, they’ll be more excited to have a mind-melt, and you won’t have to sacrifice your working style in the process.
You’re a social butterfly
On the other end of the spectrum from an independent worker is the social butterfly.
“If you like to bounce ideas off of others and thrive on dialogue and interaction, then you are probably best suited for teamwork,” Hakim explains. Though every working style has their pros and cons, Hakim says being a collaborative worker is a characteristic you should highlight to your boss, and one you can use to forward your career. As long as your frequent drive-bys produce results and efficiency, many managers will be pleased to use your appetite for conversation to the company’s advantage.
“Offer to participate in think tanks and brainstorming sessions. Share your ideas by playing devil’s advocate, and use your people skills to help gain support for important suggestions,” she suggests.
Just be mindful that not everyone feels the same zest for fraternization that you do by respecting other working preferences that don’t match yours. If you find that a certain co-worker is fast to hide away when you walk into the door, make an effort to let them come to you, instead of involving them in discussions that might disturb their flow.
You’re a deadline diva
If the idea of sitting in a conference room waiting for other members of your team for five minutes is enough to make steam come out of your ears, you could be a type-A worker.
As Hakim explains, a punctual worker values deadlines and timelines, and is overly respectful of the company’s time (and dime), and needs others to be the same. This type-A professional mindset will help you exceed, but it might also mean you are frequently flustered by what you view as incompetence from your colleagues. That’s why being upfront about your needs is key.
“Communicate your drive to complete work on time when discussing due dates with your boss. Share that you pride yourself on submitting work product on time and with quality. When you rely on others to get a task done, it can be frustrating if they are not as prompt or punctual as you,” she explains. “Clearly express the need for work to be submitted on time so that you may complete your portion of the task. If your boss constantly places you in a workgroup with others who are not as prompt, offer to complete the first leg of a larger task so that you are not impacted by any of their delays.
As a way to work seamlessly with your co-workers, managers and employees, Hakim also suggests outsmarting the system. If you’d like a meeting to start at 10, consider making it for 9:50, since you’ll already be ready to roll and you’ll give others the space to mosey in from the watercooler.