Finding time when you work with others always works best when you start with good team strategy. This can be a challenge, and it’s especially difficult if you are working with someone who relates to time quite differently than you.
What do you do when you find that someone key to your work success defines her or his values around punctuality, planning, and procrastination very differently than you do? Don’t be daunted by the task … approaching these differences proactively can enhance cooperation in ways that may surprise you.
Here are 5 ideas to help you start viewing these conflicts in time styles as opportunities, rather than hassles:
1. Clarify what’s of prime importance to you. Pare it down and negotiate for it. The strength you build makes you more resilient and decisive.
2. Attune yourself to others’ varying approaches to time use. Genuinely accepting individual differences in time styles benefits you in 3 ways:
- Truly accepting that others won’t change for you spares you the frustration of fruitless efforts to control them.
- When people notice you are not trying to change them, they feel more receptive.
- When your colleagues feel respected, they are increasingly likely to negotiate with you.
3. Effective compromising increases flexibility and clarifies lines of power and responsibility. Different time styles often reflect different priorities. Explore how this can work to your mutual advantage.
- Here’s an example of how that might work: Maybe one of you would happily accept added responsibility if you could make your own hours. The other might hold down the fort 9:00 – 5:00 in return for not taking work home.
4. Commit to creativity. Thinking outside the box carries you beyond rigid power struggles. For every problem, there is a resolution that honors the integrity and needs of each person … so keep trying!
5.Present the challenge in terms of shared goals. Keep the focus on the rewards you all will enjoy. This stimulates cooperation … when you invite others to contribute ideas they become more invested in the problem-solving process (and, by extension, more dedicated to making it work).
Negotiating different approaches to time use will challenge each of you to grow. Rather than framing change as a sacrifice, consider the benefits of seeing and addressing the baseline needs of everyone involved. Ultimately this will improve morale, promote effectiveness and save you time.© Copyright 2011 Paula Eder, Ph.D.