What really lies beneath? Understanding your working style

What really lies beneath? Understanding your working style

What really lies beneath? Understanding your working style

Have you ever come into conflict with someone at work because of the different way you approach tasks? Maybe you have a strong drive to do things ‘right’ and a colleague is focussed on getting things done quickly? Or perhaps you find yourself with too much to do because no one else seems to be able to cope with the same volume of work as you or it feels like to say ‘no’ is letting others down?

In our Consciously Connected Coaching Collective Masterclass this month we’ll be exploring what drives people at work and how this can be useful for individuals and teams. Knowledge of what motivates ourselves and others can develop and enhance:

•    Self awareness
•    Team effectiveness
•    Behavioural change

The concept of working style drivers is drawn from Transactional Analysis and can be used to describe patterns of behaviours that may help or hinder our performance. 

In the 1970s, psychologist Taibi Kahler created a framework of 5 drivers or characteristic styles of working that on the one hand can be motivating and on the other, when over emphasised, can be the root of dysfunctional behaviour. 

These drivers are learned in the first years of life. They are attitudes and behaviours  developed in response to our external environment and parental influence, unconscious attempts to behave in ways that will gain us the recognition and the reactions we need. For example, ‘I will be OK if… I please others’ or ‘I will be OK if… I can be strong’. Over time, we create internal programmes which are still running for us even now.  

The idea is that the more we know about the style or styles which are strongest for us,  the better able we become to draw on our strengths and minimise problems. 

Most of us will relate most closely to one or two styles.  We will recognise aspects of the other styles in our behaviour, but they are less likely to be significant for us.

The drivers are:

Hurry up
•    “There is much to do and little time to do it in, so we need to get a move on”
Be Perfect
•    “There is a right way to do things and it’s important we do it right”
Be Strong
•    “I can do this myself and don’t need to ask for help”
Try Hard
•    “Let me do that”
Please Others
•    “What do you need and want? After you…”

A simple questionnaire can help people determine which drivers are most dominant, and 1-1 coaching can help in the exploration of how to play to these strengths and mitigate any unconscious beliefs underpinning behaviours which may be serving them less well. When unconscious drivers are surfaced, we open up our capacity to make informed choices about how we are relationally, both at home and at work. 

For teams, understanding working style drivers can be a game changer too. Imagine a project team striving to meet a deadline for a new client. They need to deliver on time with high quality. Imagine one team member with a strong ‘hurry up’ driver who’s strengths may well be important in the team hitting the deadline; and imagine another with a dominant ‘be perfect’ driver who may be instrumental in delivering the quality needed for a good result. This is all going well until something changes – perhaps a dose of stress is introduced into the process. Now imagine the potential conflict between our ‘hurry up’ and ‘be perfect’ team members! It takes self-awareness and the ability to choose the behaviour we bring to work for the team to succeed. When teams discover together what drives individual members, they have a safe and common language to talk openly and without blame about their collective strengths and to work through difficulties appreciatively to boost overall effectiveness.

•    If you’re curious and want to find out more, why not join our masterclass on 31 August: here’s how you join the CCCC.
•    If you’d like to explore your own working style drivers through 1-1 coaching with me, get in touch
•    You can train with me to become a coach in a number of ways. Find out more here.