The 9 types of employee you can be

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There’s a company called Virtuali that helps companies ‘develop and retain millennial leaders,’ which is a phrase that might cause a Boomer to leap through a glass window. One of their co-founders just wrote an article for Harvard Business Review on ‘the two sides of employee engagement,’ and it’s pretty interesting. Before we get to a central takeaway, let’s talk about the how of them working with leaders and organizations.

They work along two prisms — employee perception and self-reported behaviors.

In terms of employee perception, here are the six areas they track:

  • Culture
  • Job Function
  • Advancement
  • Company Leadership
  • Management
  • Total Rewards

Seems logical so far. I’ve mentioned a bit about Total Rewards so far too.

In terms of self-reported behaviors, here’s what they look at:

  • Level of effort
  • Personal development
  • Company loyalty
  • Recreation
  • Relationships
  • Temperament

So now, if you do this as an X/Y-Axis deal, you come to nine (9) potential types of employees, shown visually here:

9 Types of Employees

This is pretty strong — if you have a positive perception and constructive behaviors, that’s what an ‘All-Star’ employee is. HR departments and other consulting functions spend millions a year trying to identify and advance ‘Hi-Po’s,’ or high-potential employees — and maybe it’s much simpler than we think. You want someone with positive perception and a constructive, good work ethic. OK!

If you have a positive perception but a destructive work ethic, you move from ‘All-Star’ to ‘Brat.’ That’s akin to “the brilliant jerk.”

You can look at the other 7 — most seem to fit pretty well, actually.

If I had to guess, most bosses and managers want ‘the workhorse,’ which means you need someone with a constructive set of behaviors who is generally indifferent to what’s going on around them at the company. In other words, most bosses want to foster a ‘heads-down’ culture, but it’s hard to get concepts like ‘growth’ and ‘innovation’ from there.

If I had to guess, most people probably fall into that ‘drifter’ category — their set of behaviors is middle-of-the-road or neutral, and they’re mostly indifferent to what’s going on perception-wise, because they see all the C-Suite talk in meetings as buzzword bullshit. They want to hit their targets and move on with their life. That’s most people I’ve worked with, honestly. ‘Drifter’ is a good word, because many individuals become ‘adrift’ due to having no purpose which tethers them back to the organization beyond a transactional level.

Now of course, there are a million and 16 different ways to classify, define, and expand upon the different types of employees in your company — but these nine types above are a pretty good start for almost any organization, no?

Ted Bauer