How do you work with someone who works differently than you do? This is an excellent question. It can easy to become frustrated with someone who works in a way we don’t. If you like making plans before starting a project, it can be terrifying to work with someone who jumps right in with no plan at all. On the other hand, if you like to jump in and figure out the best way to do things as you go, working with someone who likes a plan can feel stifling and oppressive. The most important thing to remember is that neither person is wrong. They just use different ways to get to the same conclusion.

There are three parts that come to mind about working with someone different than you. First, you have to want to come to a conclusion with this person. You don’t have to like their personality, but if you want to get a project done, respect how they work. Second, if a person works differently from you, you are likely to get more accomplished. People who work conatively similar have what Kolbe Consultants call Conative Cloning, and it’s hard to move off the mark, so to speak. Third, you need to know that the person you are working with has just as much “get ‘er done” in them as you do; it just looks different. Many people don’t believe this, but if they would trust the way other people work, things work out.

Since energy is finite, it would be a good idea to work with someone on a project when you are both fresh. Whether you are working with family members, boards, or people in your office, knowing how someone works or their Kolbe report makes a huge difference.

I can speak for myself when I say that I make decisions quickly then see if it’s a reasonable option. I am the only one in my family with my M.O., so the never-ending question I ask is ”Do I bend my way of working to accommodate them or should they bend how they work to accommodate me?” My response is “Do you want to get the project done or talk about how
your ego should be accommodated?”

If I am working with someone that needs more detail, I will help them by using my Quick Start to ask them questions for the details. If I am working with someone that needs a timeline or outline, I will brainstorm (also Quick Start) with them on the project, but I will acquiesce to their need for order and let them make the timeline.

I get a huge kick out of people that draw things on napkins to get their point across, but I am not one of these people. For me to clarify, I ask for visuals that we can both understand. However, it is my responsibility to get the information my way even though it might be initially delivered another way.

My husband and I are very different conatively. He has a need for information and reads articles, leases, and textbooks. He is amazed at what I retain or remember when we are talking. True story; for two to four years, I had been telling him about something regarding food that I didn’t believe was healthy. One day we were at a friend’s house and he was reading an article about the same thing and asks me if I knew about it. I thought he was joking; he wasn’t. I was mad though I know how he works.

There is a lot more going on here than just conation, but over the years, we have learned to leverage each others’ strengths. He fills out most of the school or sports paperwork for our kids. I can make something out of nothing for dinner (our family calls this MacGyver). I know I may not see his conative strengths when he comes home Monday-Friday because he used them up at work. This is important to remember.

Both parties need to want to work out the project or respect the outcome. This is crucial. When you know how your project partner works, it lays out the red carpet. You can work on tasks that serve both of you. If they don’t, you’ll know why and may need to bring in one or two more people to fill in the conative gaps.

I think knowing your Kolbe report and learning how to work best with others is so important. So the first ten people that email me after reading this post will receive Kathy Kolbe’s book Striving Zones for free! After that, I will draw a name and the winner will be the recipient of a Kolbe A Index with interpretation done by yours truly.

With Gratitude,