In recent years there has been a dramatic shift in the definition of ‘work’. Strongly influenced by technological and cultural changes, organisations around the world are adapting to enable their employees to determine how, when and where they conduct business.

The rise of worker autonomy – giving employees more flexibility in how they perform their jobs – holds vast potential in boosting worker satisfaction and organisational productivity gains. But for many managers, this can pose a challenge.

Giving employees the freedom to work autonomously means a ‘one-size fits all’ management style no longer applies, so understanding the work styles of your employees can go a long way to building a better workplace environment.

While most managers recognise that working together in certain ways on certain tasks derives the required outcomes – to generate maximum employee satisfaction and productivity – management need to recognise how, where and when their employees perform best, and start assigning work based on employees’ work styles.

This change will help eliminate conflict over simple things such as face-to-face interactions versus solving a problem over the phone or via email.

Understanding the four work styles

Employees approach work-related tasks in different ways. Some actively seek out tasks while others wait to receive them. Some are most productive in the morning while others do their best work at night. Some prefer face-to-face meetings while others prefer sharing information via email.

In a recent Jabra whitepaper we identified four primary work styles, and discussed how they can be used to build a more harmonious and productive work environment:

  1. Gurus (31% of workers)

    Inspire, create new knowledge and share different perspectives and insights.

  2. Geniuses (28% of workers)

    Stay cool, stick to the facts and know where to find vital information or knowledge to get to the next level.

  3. Game Changers (18% of workers)

    Are always on the move, applying energy and devising bold solutions to challenges.

  4. Guardians (23% of workers)

    Have both outstanding project and people skills and prefer meetings for getting everybody on the same page.

Managing employees based on work styles

By understanding your employee’s work style – how they approach their job and prefer to organise their workday – managers can provide the supportive direction and autonomy that not only aligns with employee preferences, but can improve productivity and maximise job satisfaction.

For example, if you have several Geniuses and Game Changers on your staff, you’ll know that, unlike their Guardian and Guru co-workers, they prefer to share and receive information in one-to-one settings, such as phone calls, instant messages and video conferences. And by understanding how employees work, both collaboratively and alone, you can structure the work environment in a way that promotes business success.

With workplaces constantly evolving, managers too will have to adapt their management styles to keep pace. While it may seem like a daunting task, understanding an employee’s work style, and enabling an autonomous workforce, makes both the manager’s and the employee’s role a whole lot easier.