Understand how you work in order to flourish

Are you one of those co-workers who, first thing in the morning, flitter about the office, chatting to everyone, leaning on colleagues' desks, making that vital cup of coffee? You just can't settle down to work straight away.

Or are you the total opposite? Walk through the door, head down, straight for your desk, looking neither left nor right, just focused on the day ahead?

We're all different. Therefore, we're all going to have different working styles. What works for one person in the team might not work for another. Surrounding yourself with colleagues who offer up different work styles can be beneficial. Different strokes for different folks, right?

But, just like at school, when you had to learn how best to revise to suit you personally, it's good to define what your work style is, along with its pros and cons, so that you can continually improve.

What are the different types of work styles?

While this can vary, work styles can mainly be categorised into six separate types. Read on to find out what they are… then try to work out which category you fall into.


To cooperate is “to work or act together; to be of assistance or be willing to assist,” according to the Collins English Dictionary.

You're all about teamwork, collaboration, and working together to achieve objectives. Instead of scribbling down ideas, you express your thoughts verbally, and then hope to develop these within a group setting. Not surprisingly, cooperative workers have exceptional communication skills, but struggle when working on their own.

Main assets of this work style: Great communication and a high level of interpersonal capabilities.

Where to improve: Working independently and coming up with ideas that can be developed without any further intervention.

Example of how to showcase this working style on your CV: While teamwork makes the dream work, it's all about show, not tell, on a CV. For example:

  • Played a key role as a valued member of a dedicated team responsible for customer issues and complaints, pulling together with colleagues to find solutions that improved customer satisfaction by 23%

Detail Oriented

Attention to detail is your thing. You're keen to read the small print and love digging down to find out more and more. You'll be strategic and data-oriented, with the focus on how something small, often overlooked, can bloom into a bigger issue further down the road. You might be classed as a perfectionist among workmates. Nothing wrong with that, until something comes along that can't be put right. Being accurate is so important to you, that you might miss the bigger picture.

Main assets of this work style: Strategic, minimises risk, and effective at delivering order and stability throughout a project.

Where to improve: Widen your scope by not getting so caught up in the detail that you miss vital signs of where things have gone awry.

Example of how to showcase this working style on your CV: Some of the professions that attract this type of working style are Accountants, Editors, and Writers:

  • Demonstrates reliability and attention to detail when finely-tuning processes that result in a high level of accuracy and professionalism, leading to the consistent meeting of deadlines

Idea Oriented

The absolute opposite of the above, if you're idea oriented you view the big picture in all of its technicolour glory. It's like swapping a magnifying glass for a telescope. While you may motivate team members to think outside the box, it's often left to those with a detail-oriented working style to plan the intricacies.

Main assets of this work style: Facilitating change, optimism, and inspiring others.

Where to improve: Don't forget about the details or following up on issues.

Example of how to showcase this working style on your CV: Employees in marketing and graphic design, along with senior leaders in any sector, often employ an idea-oriented working style:

  • Innovative and creative, identifies different ways and ideas to attract new custom to the business


This type of working style, also known as logical, applies to those in your team who are doers and require their own space in which to perform well. Being micromanaged will certainly be a big no-no, as you prefer flying solo when it comes to tackling problems. You're also probably a dab hand when it comes to framing a problem - analysing a challenge, then coming up with a well-formulated and logical solution.

Main assets of this work style: Diligent and skilled at creating visionary and unique ideas that deliver value.

Where to improve: Work on your communication, planning aspects, and how you're managed by superiors.

Example of how to showcase this working style on your CV: Entrepreneurs flourish in this environment, creating their own path rather than following anyone else:

  •  Uses credible solutions to resolve complex problems by thinking outside the box and harnessing an entrepreneurial skill set


This type of working style is probably one of the more adaptable, as it combines working on your own with collaboration. You're the sort of worker who likes to tackle a task by yourself and then take it back to the team for constructive feedback, so you can improve on what you've already achieved. You get the best of both worlds - autonomy but without the isolation!

Main assets of this work style: Many desirable qualities, such as being flexible and balanced.

Where to improve: Not all projects are compatible with a balance of teamwork and solo work.

Example of how to showcase this working style on your CV: You'll probably be welcomed aboard by most teams with a proximity style of working:

  • Committed to team building and shaping the way forward in a clear and decisive manner through collaborative methods, while adapting to changing market dynamics by developing and applying flexible solutions that unite the team


One of the many definitions of “support” in the Collins English Dictionary is, “to give strength to; maintain.” Being supportive is to possess many key social skills such as empathy, emotional intelligence, and mediation powers. You're likely to form robust work relationships and help to boost morale across the team. When there's interpersonal conflict at work, you'll be the first on the scene to sort it out.

You might always go with your gut feeling, rather than focusing on the data, so if something just doesn't feel quite right - yet you can't put your finger on why - this can seriously delay processes and projects.

Main assets of this work style: Self awareness, emotional intelligence, resolving conflict, and facilitating collaboration.

Where to improve: Watch out for getting too distracted and struggling to make those tough decisions, for fear of upsetting other team members.

Example of how to showcase this working style on your CV: Attending to a team's needs or a customer's needs is right up your street:

  • Displays outstanding personable attributes and active listening skills when welcoming customers into the shop; thrives with increased responsibility and when assisting team members

If you're still not sure which work style you normally adopt, indulge further in this article to find out…

How to determine what your work style is

Check out the following four ways to pinpoint which work style you adopt on a regular basis.

Evaluate the preferred method you use to communicate

Thinking about how you best communicate can highlight which type of working style you possess.

  • Are you an active listener? That's characteristic of a supportive working style.

  • Do you write detailed and concise emails while maintaining an air of indifference during exchanges with colleagues? This points towards a detail oriented working style.

  • Are flamboyant gestures your thing when talking to others? You might possess an idea oriented style.

Consider how you plan each working day

Another indicator of what your working style might be can be learned from how you structure the working day ahead.

  • If you're super organised and never miss a deadline, that's a detail oriented work style.

  • Are you often at a colleague's work area, going through ideas? You could possess a cooperative style.

  • Or if you plan your day with no thoughts for others and just getting on with your own tasks, that indicates an independent style.

Think about the way in which you deal with conflict

Determining how you handle conflict can give you a better idea of your personality, both inside and outside of work.

  • If you focus on developing compromises whenever a conflict in the workplace arises, you're surely a supportive kind of colleague.

  • Whereas, if you thrive on a good debate, you're someone who has a logical working style, as you're not so concerned about disagreeing with the group.

  • If you love it when others contribute controversial ideas, you're leaning more towards a cooperative work style.

Undertake a personality test

These can be particularly useful for not only learning more about your personality, but also what type of work style you favour. It's a fairly normal procedure during the recruitment process to have to take a personality test, as it gives prospective employers an idea of whether you're a good fit for a specific team while simultaneously assessing your approach to work and relationship building.

  • The Myers Briggs Type Index (MBTI) is probably the most well known. It uses four sets of factors (judging / perceiving, sensing / intuition, thinking / feeling, and introversion / extroversion) to pinpoint personality, then reveals which one you are out of 16 different personality types.

  • The SHL Occupational Personality Questionnaire bridges the gap between work style and personality type, determining how your personality traits and behaviour influence your work performance.

  • The revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R) evaluates your strengths based on five personality traits (extroversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, and openness to experience). There are then six sub-categories within these traits to further define where you sit in the world of work.

Top tip: Don't assign yourself a working style solely based on a personality test. While they can be insightful, they're only one piece of the puzzle. There are other aspects you need to take into consideration when fully understanding how - and what - makes you tick.

The takeaway

You're going to come across all sorts of people, with all sorts of different styles, throughout your working life. The trick is to work out what your style is and then find a fit with other colleagues.

If you're a leader, you'll want to encourage a range of working styles. Resolving problems and tackling complex projects are jobs that require brains that perform in different ways. Embrace these differences, and strive for a good mix.

Figuring out your work style can be kinda fun. What isn't so much fun is figuring out how to best present all your skills and achievements on your CV. Instead, let the professionals take the worry away from you. By sending off your CV for TopCV's free review, you can rest assured that your job search documents are in good hands and ready for the journey ahead, wherever that might take you!

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