Which Work Style is More Productive?

JobHazardChecklistThere are some things about ourselves that we know, but sometimes, other people may know us even better. In the workplace, interviewers and managers probably don’t know us as well as someone like our mothers, but personality tests are often used to give businesses a better idea. These personality tests can clarify the factors that motivate employees, their skills and the tasks that they enjoy. With the results of a personality test, managers can optimize their workforce so that employees strengths and expertise are properly utilized.

When the right people are in the right places, businesses can improve employee productivity, but many questions remain on whether managers should optimize for Independent style work or Collaborative style work. Neither is without its strengths or weakness, and neither is right for each employee. So first, we need to understand the Independent versus Collaborative work style?

Independent Work Style

Independent work style is the act of an individual working to complete a goal or project. Independent work style is often referred to as “quiet productivity”. Highly focused, self-sufficient and a strong mental picture, these employees quietly complete their projects with little interaction with their peers. The greatest strength for the independent work style is a single vision and execution by a single person allows for continuity.

People that favor an independent work style:

  • Operate in a self-sufficient manner, autonomously.
  • Demonstrate strong self-guidance and deadline accountability.

The weakness of the independent work style is that without an outside perspective there will be ideas not used, opportunities not taken and perhaps mistakes missed.

People that favor an independent work style:

  • May does not demonstrate a strong desire to partner or cooperate with others to accomplish goals.
  • May focus more on personal goals and responsibilities than on those of the team.

Managing Independent Workers

Independent work style should be managed by a scheduled report to the project manager or team leader. It is important to recognize these employees for the contributions they make to the company and value they bring even if they are not visibly involved in projects. It is also important to have these workers feel they are part of the overall team even if working independently. Team meetings and activities can assist in integrating them into the group.

Collaborative Work Style

Collaborative work style is the act of peers working jointly to complete a common goal or project. Collaborative work style enjoys a rather upbeat reputation, especially among the employees that benefit from the exchange of ideas and opportunity to work with others. Collaboration allows peers to come together and share knowledge, skills and experiences that can help on a project. Feedback and discussion help each bring the best they can to their area.

People that favor a collaborative work style:

  • Emphasize cooperative partnering and team-oriented interactions.
  • Initiate and engages in conversations with others comfortably.
  • Demonstrate excitement and positive emotional energy.

However, with so many viewpoints and opinions, there is the inevitable dissent that can cause conflict within the group and time wasted to resolve indecisiveness.

People that favor a collaborative work style:

  • May have difficulty in roles or situations that require autonomy and self-direction.
  • May tend to look to others for direction and guidance.

Managing Collaborative Workers

Collaborative work style should be controlled by assigning a leader to create and hold the project vision, make final decisions, keep the team on a schedule, as well as mediate any conflicts that might arise. Ensure that each team member is clear on their individual responsibilities and deadlines. It is also important to remember to acknowledge each member of the team and their contributions to the final product.


It is easy to see that both work styles have the advantages and disadvantages. Employee personality and preferences must also be taken into account when determining which style would be best suited for any project. Evaluate and know each person’s strengths and skill, then give these team members responsibilities that best leverage those skills.

The goal is to complete the project in scope and on time; both work styles can be effective if properly managed.

Refer to the table below for a quick overview of the strengths and weakness of both work styles.





Sharing of: Skills, Knowledge, Experience

Single vision, and roadmap

Feedback and Discussion

Work completed without use of other resources (peers)

Better Division of Labor

Self-Sufficient and focused



Dissenting viewpoints causing conflict

No outside viewpoints

Too many leaders

Lack of accountability