How to Discover and Understand Your Work Style

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October 25, 2022
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In this class, we're going to talk about understanding your Work Style. Without having a deep understanding of who you are and how others perceive you, you're not going to be able to really figure out what you want to do and where you want to go, which is going to impede your ability to figure out what's next and to go out and get that faster.


In this class, we'll go over what it means to understand your Work Style and how you can leverage it to tap into your professional strengths.


When building self-awareness, we want to focus on this notion of conscious awareness and unconscious awareness. Those are the two big buckets—what are we really clear on and understand about ourselves, and what we're really unclear about. We all have blind spots where we just don’t see the full picture. Our goal is to be objectively self-aware. 

There's a really powerful concept called the Johari Window Model, which focuses on these dimensions of what's known to us, what's not known to us, what's known to others, and what's not known to others. When you do that as a simple two by two, you get this framework to understand yourself. 

At the top left, there's the public self—what others know about us and what we know about ourselves. That's a high match and that's where we can be in a pretty high energy state of mind. 

Then over to the right at the top are our blind spots. What we really want to focus on are these things that we're unaware of, but others see it. In the workplace, that's particularly important because the more we can be clear on these blind spots, the more we can understand how people see us and the kind of work they might give us to do and what they might trust us with.

Then there's the lower left—known to us and unknown to others—and those are the things we want to keep and those things that are important that we're not ready to share and have the world know about us. That said, the less of those you have, the less energy it takes to keep those. 

Then, in the bottom right, there's a whole world of discovery to things for us to figure out about ourselves that we just don't know yet. That's obviously a lot of fun to work through. 

The goal is to really maximize that public self. The more we need to maintain separate identities, the more draining it is on us. So the goal is to increase that proportion of public self, who we show up in the world as, and who we understand ourselves to be.

We want those to be one and the same, because the more we need to manage those multiple identities and maintain all those things that we don't want the world to see, it drains us and we can't bring our whole self. The more we can bring our whole and authentic self to work with an understanding of what matters to us, what energizes us, what drains us, the higher likelihood we're going to be successful. 

That's why we say the first step in career growth is becoming self aware. Having that understanding of self, knowing whether you're a person who's a better brainstormer or a better implementer, or if you're a person who would rather be doing the work or rather be doing the brainstorming—again, we can all do all things, but the more we can understand certain environments energize us and that we naturally gravitate towards them, the higher chances of us being successful in our work.

What's a Work Style?

In this section, we're going to talk about understanding your Teal Work Style and the history and origins of work styles in general.

You've probably heard of some of these other behavioral assessments or psychological assessments. Teal's Work Style Assessment really falls in a behavioral assessment category. It's not a clinical framework; it's about understanding how you show up at work, and we're really focused on the work context. Obviously, psychology and personality are broad and deep topics. We're really focused here on behavior at work.

Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.
Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.

There are lots of other frameworks that have been used. They're all wonderful and they're all as good as you allow them to be, and we feel that they all give you a structured framework for semantics for understanding yourself and others. We like to think of it as systematically building empathy. If we can have a language to understand ourselves and others have used that same language, then we can accelerate the ability to work together—but it really starts with that understanding of self.

The history of work styles

A lot of these frameworks have the same kind of underpinnings, which come from Hippocrates when he wrote about the four humors and the four ways of being. The framework was used until the 1700s, though it's since evolved as science has advanced.

When you look at the core writings from the four humors to the four temperaments to Carl Jung's personality types, they all go back to four main buckets. We've built on this 2,400-year-old framework of the two factor model—or what might be called the four temperament model—to build up the Teal Work Style Assessment, and have added some layers that we think just make it a little bit easier to work with.

In addition to originating from the four temperaments, the Teal Work Style Assessment builds upon original DISC work from William Marston, who brought a new layer of thought to the four temperaments. 

Do you have just one work style?

We believe that everybody is comprised of all four styles; it's just how we show up and how we go through them that determines which style most presents itself in a given moment. We do think we have a psychological home—a default—and certain situations might change that. What that's going to tell us is there are going to be things that energize us and things that drain us; there are going to be some things that come easily to us, and some things that take a little more effort.

The more that we can be aware of those things we can then equip ourselves to handle those situations. And that's why we think self-awareness is so key.

About Teal's Work Style framework

Teal’s sequence is broken up into four primary styles—a series of polarities that are opposite to each other. We like to present it as a numerical sequence, but we think it's important that when you understand the framework so you see how it comes together. They're drawn in this order for a very specific reason - 1, 2, 3, 4.

When you draw a line across one and two, it’s that the one and two traits tend to be the talk-to-think big picture, fast-pace, whereas the three and four tend to be the finishing qualities, steady pace, think-to-talk, more detail-oriented. 

Having that understanding of self and that self-awareness, especially when engaging with others, is really important.

When you're looking at these, what you want to think about is yourself. Do you take a beat and pause before you rattle things off or do you just use your voice and your ability to speak as a time to process? Think about that for yourself. (And if you're not sure, you can take the Teal Work Style Assessment here.) 

When we split down the other way—and this is why it's called a two-factor model—this is the other polarity in the framework. 

If you are a one or a four, you tend to be more results-oriented. When you take on work, you prioritize the results and the work. If you're on the two or three side, you'll tend to prioritize the people and the connections.

Again, all of us are both. There's just an order in which we do them. Which one do we do first? 

Example of the framework in action

One time that you will see this really come to fruition is when you're interviewing. When you're being interviewed by someone, are they trying to get to understand you as a person? What you did on the weekends, your family, where you came from that person. There Is a high likelihood that they're in that two, three side. If the person is trying to understand your credentials, your accomplishments, what you've done, there's a high likelihood they're on that one, four side.

So flipping that around and looking at yourself, think about when you connect with people, when you first come in contact with them, are you trying to get to know them as people, or are you trying to get to know what they know, their credentials? Again, think about this in a work setting. Thinking this way will tell you something about how you build connections. 

Once we do that, we have the two factors altogether on the map. The one, twos tend to be the starters. The three, fours tend to be the finishers. Again, they get more energy from it, but we can all do everything. It's just, which one drains us and which ones energizes us.

When you start to put those together, ones are starters focused on results. Twos are starters focused on people. Threes are finishers focused on people and fours are finishers focused on results. Those are the attributes of that style.

That's why we like the sequence because it allows us to talk about how we're all of them—that we just naturally progress through them in a certain way.

Primary Work Styles

Primary ones tend to seek to shape the environment by using direct action to overcome opposition and get results. Here are more traits of a one:

Primary twos seek to shape their environment by using influencing and persuading to bring others into alliance. Here are more traits of a two:

Primary threes seek to be cooperative, supportive, and agreeable while working with others to keep things stable. Here are more traits of a three: 

Primary fours seek to work conscientiously within existing circumstances, exercising control by ensuring quality and accuracy. Here are more traits of a four: 

Your Teal Work Style incorporates a sequence. For example, I'm a 2, 1, 4, 3, but if your results were a 2, 1, 3, 4, that's how you navigate through the space.

Let's look at an example. When you look at the first polarity below (2, 1, 4, 3), this pattern is a start, start, finish. That means that this person would be all go all the time, all offense, less defense, all starting and harder to finish. That pattern tells us a lot. 

Then if you look at the second polarity, this person is people results, people. They start with being in a place of people, orientation. Then they're pretty comfortable living in that results space.

You'll see on your report that it'll show you your pattern, and where this becomes incredibly powerful as when we start to style others and understand how they operate. We'll be able to very quickly say, okay, we think they're primarily X, secondarily X. We see their pattern.

If someone has the same polarity twice in a row, that's going to be a very strong trait for them. This is what you think about when you start to build teams, but more importantly, when you think about yourself, right? Does it take me time to finish? 

If your role is one of operations and a lot of detail orientation, and you have that high finishing, that means you're going to be pretty charged up by that stuff. If you're that high start, start, then you need to be in an area of ideation. Those are things to think about as you look at your Work Style and as you take the test multiple times.

Toolkit for Understanding Your Work Style

Let's talk about the toolkit that you have to understand your Work Style Assessment results. When you take the free assessment (it's just 16 simple questions), you'll receive a Work Style report that has a few sections on career insights, the things that come easily (particularly when you're thinking about career opportunities), etc.

Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.
Unlock your tailored career insights with Teal’s Work Style Quiz, a free career personality assessment.

There’s a reason you can take the assessment multiple times: These results are NOT what you are; they reflect how you felt in the moment, and that can change. Some questions you may answer consistently, and some you might change given the context.

Ultimately, we really want you to understand the framework. At the end of the day, you decide what you relate to—and what we really want to focus on is you having a language and a semantic structure to think about how you show up in the world. 

Again, we cannot stress enough that you are the authority on you. There’s a lot of interpretation on words and language, and you might interpret something differently than what we intended, so it’s important that you understand who you are, what you are energized by, what you are drained by, and the instructions and guidance that is really going to align to the style. 

The test has a pretty high accuracy from a lot of the people that take it; they feel really good about it. But again, you are the authority on you and we can't stress that enough. 

Next you have the 360 review, which is a really fun way to understand how others see you. The goal here is to send out the survey on your behalf to others. Send it to coworkers, send it to friends, send it to family. This will give you a sense of how they see you and how they perceive you, and you’ll get a real understanding of how the world thinks you show up. 

Some people get the same exact results from their aggregate 360, but it's incredibly rare. Hardly ever have we seen someone get the exact same word distribution. They might get the same sequence from someone else who takes the assessment on their behalf, but hardly ever do they get the exact same word pairing. 

The good thing is that this isn't critical. It is just an understanding of your behavior. It's not feedback in a negative way, so it really helps you build that self-awareness and you can get tons of feedback. We feel deeply that it can change over time. 


We aren't big believers in the Golden Rule of treating others the way you want to be treated. Instead, we like to say, "Treat others how THEY want to be treated." For example, I have pretty high extroversion, and if I treat someone with pretty high introversion how I want to, I'm probably going to stress them out. By leveraging these tools, you'll be able to better communicate.

Focus on your journey of self-awareness and understanding who you are and how you show up in the world—that comes first and foremost for everything around career growth. We're excited for you and rooting for you as you go on that journey. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common work styles and how can I identify which one fits me best?

Common work styles include analytical, logical, organized, creative, and supportive, among others. To identify which one fits you best, reflect on your past experiences, consider feedback from colleagues, and observe how you approach tasks and interact with others. Self-assessment tools and personality tests can also provide insights into your work style preferences.

How can understanding my work style improve my collaboration with others?

Understanding your work style can enhance collaboration by highlighting your strengths and preferred methods of communication. It allows you to articulate your needs and boundaries more effectively, and to appreciate the diverse work styles of your colleagues. This mutual understanding can lead to more productive and harmonious teamwork.

Can my work style change over time, and should I reassess it periodically?

Yes, work styles can evolve due to new experiences, roles, or changing work environments. It's beneficial to reassess your work style periodically, especially when you feel a shift in your preferences or when you transition to a new role or team. Regular reflection ensures that you remain self-aware and can adapt to maximize your professional growth.

Dave Fano

Founder and CEO of Teal, Dave is a serial entrepreneur with 20+ years of experience building products & services to help people leverage technology and achieve more with less.

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