The preferences and working styles of employees are diverse. The Wall Street Journal addressed generational differences in communication styles. Most millennials prefer to communicate via social media and texting, whereas older members of the workforce prefer more traditional channels. Similarly, some workers thrive under pressure and group dynamics, whereas others require time to work through a problem independently.

According to the Center for American Progress, businesses with a diverse workforce are more competitive. A manager’s ability to manage and exploit such differences requires effective leadership. Managers and leaders must first understand their own personalities and working styles in order to appreciate those of others. They must model tolerance and understanding because no style is the right one. An effective leader provides an environment that is flexible and accepting of all working styles.

  • Institute cultural sensitivity training in your workplace. Encourage a culture of tolerance and awareness for individual preferences in working styles. Encourage teamwork. Provide teams with autonomy in decision making. Let them organize themselves and have them review the project process once it is completed to identify ways to improve.
  • Seek feedback from employees. As your frontline workers, they are a valuable source of information. Ask for ideas and keep them engaged. Provide regular educational and training opportunities to encourage their career development. Institute open communication forums using social media to encourage cross-functional interaction.
  • Create recognition programs. Encourage staff to take on responsibility and reward them for it. Provide honest feedback to employees and provide a safe forum for them to reciprocate. Offer flexible working options such as telecommuting. Focus on getting the work done according to deadlines and don’t obsess about how and when it is done. This leadership style encourages accountability and will improve staff morale.

As a leader, identify which employees work best under certain circumstances. Teaming your Harvard MBA with your fastest workers can ensure a job is done in quick time. Teaming an IT programmer with a software innovator might provide a ground breaking operations system.

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