6 kinds of workers
I'm a giver. No wait, an artisan. No wait, an explorer. No wait, a pioneer. How about you? Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
It’s been a heck of a week for workers: all kinds of ups and downs. Last week I was sitting in on one of the airline earnings calls when they were talking about hiring like crazy, only to watch my phone blow up with tech layoffs: first Microsoft, then Google.
I’m going to hand the mic to my colleague Jessica Stillman this morning, who wrote not long ago about a different way of looking at workers, courtesy of a 76-page report by consulting company Bain & Company.
The short version is that Bain thinks they can divide the entire global workforce into six types of workers. Jessica says one of the categories fits her perfectly; I find myself overlapping at least two, maybe three. I’ll be curious whether any of them feels familiar to you. Here’s Jessica.
6 types of workers
Most of us have heard the saying that some folks "work to live" and others "live to work."
An extensive report from Bain last year dug into workers' changing expectations for their jobs, and suggests it goes deeper than that dichotomy. The authors spent a year surveying 20,000 workers in 10 countries (the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Nigeria) as well as conducting in-depth interviews with more than 100 employees.
They argue that there are actually six worker “archetypes,” each with its own strengths and weaknesses.
"These archetypes help us better understand what it takes for different individuals to find a sense of purpose at work," the report states. If you know who you're dealing with—or what kind of worker you are—you're better placed not only to hire the right person for the right role, but also to help your existing team stick around.
So what are these archetypes? Here's how the Bain report describes them, along with a quick rundown of the typical strengths and weaknesses of each type.
These are the traditional “work-to-live” type:
"[O]perators find meaning and self-worth primarily outside of their jobs. When it comes down to it, they see work as a means to an end. They're not particularly motivated by status or autonomy, and generally don't seek to stand out in their workplace.
They tend to prefer stability and predictability. Thus, they have less interest in investing to change their future compared with other archetypes. At the same time, operators are one of the more team-minded archetypes, and often see many of their colleagues as friends."
Strengths: team players. Potential weaknesses: not proactive, easily disengaged.
"Givers find meaning in work that directly improves the lives of others. They are the archetype least motivated by money. They often gravitate toward caring professions such as medicine or teaching, but can also thrive in other lines of work where they can directly interact with and help others.
Their empathetic nature typically translates into a strong team spirit and deep personal relationships at work. At the same time, their more cautious nature means they tend to be forward planners, who are relatively hesitant to jump on new opportunities as they arise."
Strengths: selfless, help build trust within an organization. Weaknesses: sometimes impractical or naïve.
"Artisans seek out work that fascinates or inspires them. They are motivated by the pursuit of mastery. They enjoy being valued for their expertise, although they are less concerned with status in the broader sense.
Artisans typically desire a high degree of autonomy to practice their craft and place the least importance on camaraderie of all the archetypes. While many find a higher purpose in work, this is more about passion than altruism.”
Strengths: well positioned to solve the most complex challenges. Weaknesses: can be aloof and lose sight of bigger objectives.
Free-spirited folks, the report says:
"[E]xplorers value freedom and experiences. They tend to live in the present and seek out careers that provide a high degree of variety and excitement. Explorers place a higher-than-average importance on autonomy. They are also more willing than others to trade security for flexibility.
They typically don't rely on their job for a sense of identity, often exploring multiple occupations during their lifetime. Explorers tend to adopt a pragmatic approach to professional development, obtaining only the level of expertise needed."
Strengths: will enthusiastically throw themselves at whatever task is required of them. Weaknesses: can be directionless or lack conviction.
"Strivers have a strong desire to make something of themselves. They are motivated by professional success, and value status and compensation. They are forward planners who can be relatively risk averse, as they opt for well-trodden paths to success.
Strivers are willing to tolerate less variety so long as it is in service of their longer-term goals. They tend to define success in relative terms, and thus can be more competitive and transactional in their relationships than most other archetypes.”
Strengths: disciplined and transparent. Weaknesses: their competitiveness can degrade trust and camaraderie within teams.
This entrepreneurial type sounds like it includes people who are more likely to be founding companies than plugging away in the trenches:
"Pioneers are on a mission to change the world. They form strong views on the way things should be and seek out the control necessary to achieve that vision. They are the most risk-tolerant and future-oriented of all the archetypes.
Pioneers identify profoundly with their work. Their vision matters more than anything, and they are willing to make great personal sacrifices accordingly. Their work relationships tend to be more transactional in nature. Their vision is often at least partly altruistic, but it is distinctly their own."
Strengths: infectious energy that can bring about lasting change. Weaknesses: can be uncompromising and imperious.
Reading through these I instantly self-identified as an explorer, right down to acknowledging my occasional struggles with long-term planning. Do you know what type you are? Let us know in the comments.
7 other things worth knowing today
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