What is Your Working Style?

Before reading this article, click on the link below and take the questionnaire.

Working Styles Questionnaire [if the file doesn’t open in your browser, right-click and download]

When growing up you may have received praise, recognition and rewards for certain types of behaviour. This positive reinforcement created scripts that bias you towards behaving in the same way in the future. The unconscious assumption is: ‘If I behave like this, things will be OK’.

There are 5 primary drivers [1] and while we have a little of each, we tend to have a dominant driver that will be particularly strong during times of stress. Whether the intuitive thought processes and behaviours of each driver are strengths or weaknesses depends on context and the extent to which the driver influences your actions.

Be Perfect


  • organized
  • attentive to detail
  • reliable
  • plans ahead
  • accurate

Potential Weaknesses

  • pedantic
  • slow
  • misses deadlines
  • impractical

Be Perfects should try to see the bigger picture: sometimes good enough is good enough and time is the more critical element. Every moment spent perfecting a trivial element reduces the time available for perfecting what is truly important. And perhaps perfection holds us back from new opportunities and insights:

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
That’s how the light gets in”[2]

Be Strong


  • calm under pressure
  • emotionally-detached decision-making
  • steady

Potential Weaknesses

  • gets overloaded
  • fails to seek help when required
  • hides from emotions – can suddenly ‘snap’
Be Strongs need to recognize that there is no virtue in suffering and that shouldering all responsibility is not necessarily appreciated as it reduces the autonomy and participation of others.

Hurry Up


  • proactive
  • quick
  • deadline-focused
  • energy and enthusiasm

Potential Weaknesses

  • setting off in the wrong direction
  • careless mistakes and lack of quality control
  • poor time management

Hurry Ups benefit from starting a little more slowly to ensure that their energy is being used effectively: more haste, less speed. Their focus on current objectives can also blind them to approaches that will bring longer-term benefits; a little engine maintenance may delay the project slightly but will prolong the life of the engine.

Please People


  • make people feel good
  • increase harmony and involvement
  • communicate frequently

Potential Weaknesses

  • too concerned with not upsetting others
  • uncomfortable with criticism – giving and receiving
  • takes things personally
  • reluctant decision-maker

Those with a Please People dominant driver may wish to consider that sometimes it is necessary to be ‘cruel to be kind’ and that the more you ‘look after’ someone the fewer opportunities they have to grow and develop resilience.

Try Hard


  • enthusiasm
  • gets to the bottom of things
  • self-motivated
  • focused
  • accurate

Potential Weaknesses

  • build mountains from mole hills
  • over-complicate
  • ‘no gain without pain’ mentality

By taking time to relax, Try Hards will find that new ideas and more effective approaches emerge. It is not about how hard you work, it is about the results that you achieve; better to work smart.

Like personality traits, scripts are instinctive ways of thinking and behaving. Being aware of your own predispositions is the first step in interrupting automated, unconscious processes so that you can consciously choose the most appropriate approach in each situation.

What changes will you make based on your (and your associates’) questionnaire scores?

[1] Julie Hay, Transactional Analysis for Trainers

[2] Leonard Cohen, ‘Anthem’