Working with Complementary Styles Can Boost Performance

According to a new study conducted by Cornerstone and Harvard Business School, arranging complementary work styles to operate in close proximity to one another is a simple solution to boosting productivity and performance in your organization.

One of the first of its kind, this study on “spatial management” analyzed data on more than 2,000 employees at a large international company for over two years and found that placing the right type of workers near each other generated up to a 15 percent increase in organizational performance.

According to the report, pairing people with opposite strengths improves performance. The study looked at three measures of “positive performance” – Productivity, Effectiveness and Quality, and found that people usually fell into three categories – Productive, Generalist or Quality workers. “Productive workers are very productive but lack in quality. In contrast, Quality workers produce superior quality but lack in productivity. All the while, the Generalists are average on both dimensions.”

The report looks at the “spillover effect” which demonstrated that when seated near someone who had an opposite strength as their own, the strength of their neighbor rubbed off on them, and allowed them to better improve an underdeveloped area for them.

This study is consistent with TRACOM’s work and research in behavioral style. Each of the four SOCIAL STYLEs has their own patterns of behavior and preferred way of interacting. While Driving Style and Expressive Style individuals are faster paced and less risk-averse, Amiable and Analytical Style people are slower and more risk-averse.

These differences can be challenging, but they lead to better outcomes. The key to any effective relationship and peer-to-peer interaction is Versatility. Versatility is the best predictor of success and the key to boosting interpersonal effectiveness in the real world, whether at work, at home or in any social setting. To fully understand and appreciate an opposite working style, you must be highly Versatile.

Versatility is what allows us to recognize someone else’s preferences, and adjust our behaviors to work cohesively with them despite our differences, (or similarities). This would allow an Expressive Style person to slow down and focus on the details when working with an Analytical Style person, (similar to a Productive person working with a Quality person, and thus, further developing their “quality” skills.)

Having this understanding of SOCIAL STYLE and how to identify SOCIAL STYLEs through behavioral cues better equips managers with the insight to arrange teams and even desks to improve performance and productivity. Employee awareness of Versatility is what allows others to learn to adapt to other styles and even pick up on other styles’ strengths.

To view other SOCIAL STYLE focused research click here.