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Team Work Makes the Dream Work: Why discovering work styles is worth the effort

Working with a variety of different personalities can bring great diversity to any team; making sure everyone’s different styles and behaviors meld together into a well oiled machine is the tricky part. We talked with Kim Mitchell, a professional specializing in organizational and relationship management, about how to navigate this issue and why it’s a critical part of the success of any team.

Why It’s Important

During the brief period of time you interview a potential employee it can be hard to get a real read on what type of work style they might have. Many organizations probably haven’t taken a holistic view of their entire staff at one time, but understanding the profile of your workforce is an important tool in managing teams effectively.

It helps leaders better understand the preferences and predispositions of the individuals in the organization so they can create an environment that is wired for success. It also removes the innocence of the entire organization when everyone has the benefit of knowing the profile of the group and has an understanding of the how the profile informs the working relationships and overall culture of the organization.  Finally, it can also help inform how to organize project teams and achieve the desired mix of skills and interactive styles to maximize team effectiveness and project outcomes.”


How to Implement It

You may be thinking, “This all sounds great, but how do I get started?” Luckily, there are a number of tools to help you and your team figure out your individual work styles. Not all tools work exactly the same way, but Kim recommends the DiSC assessment. This tool works as a “model that provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others.” To complete a DiSC assessment, you and/or your staff members would complete a series of questions that would produce a detailed report about your personality and behavior. (Think Myers-Briggs, but with a workplace twist!).

“It is my tool of choice because of its simplicity; it focuses on 4 behavioral styles based on situations rather than an assessment of one’s personality that suggests a fixed or static interactive style. It suggests that we can adjust our styles to influence the quality of our relationships and therefore take responsibility for our actions rather than blame others.

I appreciate that it describes the four styles (dominance, influencing, steadiness and consciousness) as all being equally valuable and without hierarchy. This helps people appreciate the value of each style rather than judging whether a style is good or bad.  Most importantly, it emphasizes that each of us has all styles within us so we are not a D, i, S, or C – but they are all a D, i, S, and C and can flex or adjust our behavior for optimal organizational performance and individual interactions.”  


Pro tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Assessment

Before you dive head first into the joys of a workstyle analysis, Kim recommends that you keep these three factors in mind:

1.  Focus on the strengths and explore the value of each style.

2.  Explore the assessment through the lens of the organization’s mission, desired outcomes, and their alignment.

3. Use it to enhance dialogue and improve interactions by challenging individuals to focus on what adjustments they need to make to improve or optimize interactions and organizational outcomes.

Whether or not you choose DiSC or any other type of analysis, learning how your team members and staff works best is a great way to ensure that your team is working as efficiently as they can!


 Kim Mitchell is often recognized for her fresh perspective on innovative philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and stakeholder and community engagement. Kim has decades of experience in leadership positions in philanthropy, human resources, and consulting while at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Xerox Corporation. As the former Northeast Region Executive for JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Kim led philanthropic, civic and employee engagement activities and managed an annual social investment portfolio of over $40 million in grants and strategic sponsorships. Kim currently serves on the National Board of Directors of Jumpstart for Young Children, Board of Directors for the Center for Children’s Initiatives (CCI), and advisory committees for FirstStep NYC and The Educational Alliance College Access & Success Program. An important voice and business champion for strong early learning systems, Kim also has deep content knowledge and is a noted public speaker on educational and economic equity, comprehensive community revitalization, and strategic philanthropy. A graduate of Lake Forest College in Illinois with a B.A. in Urban Studies, Kim enjoys building and working with teams that have a thirst to learn, compulsion to share, and a bias for action.

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