Knowing the core personality traits of the people around you helps you relate to them more effectively. This is especially true at the workplace. If you have leadership responsibilities over others, this knowledge will help you relate to them more empathetically, lead them more effectively and achieve better results. Similarly, if you are an HR professional, this knowledge will help you hire the right people for the right job, devise better performance incentives and develop more sensible career and improvement plans. In return, your organization will benefit from better performance levels, a more synergic culture and a more fluid organizational dynamic.
With this in mind, I have identified three basic types of employees in terms of their core personality traits affecting performance, that is, their commitment to performance excellence, willingness to improve and general ethics. Yes, there are plenty of other models that provide more complex assessments with subtler variations. However, this three-type model is meant to be simple, easy to apply and especially useful to seasoned professionals who have already developed a keen psychological sense. Furthermore, you can integrate this model with others in order to expand their reach and scope.
I have named the three basic types of employees The Freeloader, The Worker and The Entrepreneur. They are all very different from each other. However, in their endeavors to keep or find employment, they might develop similar defense and self-promotion mechanisms, thus becoming easily misidentified by the untrained eye.
Let’s explore each type in detail.
Type 1: The Freeloader
These are those looking for a source of income; not for a job. Freeloaders are only interested in getting the money they need, and are willing to work for it only if they have to. Surprisingly enough, there are people like these at all levels of the corporate ladder and in all industries, from rookie, unlicensed electricians to major corporate CEOs. In the beginning, they all seem down-to-earth, enthusiastic and charming. However, in the medium to long term, they all come across as slackers, deceitful and mediocre, showing small improvements only when they know they are being watched. In fact, when feeling completely fed up with their jobs, they will be openly careless, irresponsible and defiant, as if they knew they were squeezing the last drops from their current positions.
Type 2: The Worker
These are those actually looking for a job. In other words, people who do feel the need to be useful and would rather work for an income than be paid for nothing. Within them, the basic need for financial survival has been replaced with a sense of dignity grounded in the conviction to make an honest living and to give a good example. This type tends to be less charming than the freeloaders; yet they are a lot more productive as they have a high sense of commitment and responsibility. However, they usually have a hard time pushing their own boundaries and will likely not work more than they were initially asked to. For some reason, it is difficult for this type to see beyond the present moment, so the idea of making an extra effort for future benefits is a fuzzy one. They believe they must be promoted for doing what they were originally asked not, not for delivering anything additional. Whether justified or unjustified, this mindset tends to limit their personal and professional development.
Type 3: The Entrepreneur
These are those pursuing a higher purpose. In other words, their main motivation transcends the need for money and their idea of being useful is intrinsically tied to doing something that they love. In short, they have a clear personal mission and vision. In this regard, Type 3’s overcome the limitations of Types 1 and 2, meaning, they will always give their best and will always go the extra mile. However, entrepreneurs face other kinds of challenges resulting from their sometimes mismanaged success drive and personal initiative. When this happens, they will benefit from the guidance and leadership of experienced, wise, well-grounded colleagues, supervisors and mentors.
Foreseeable as it is, entrepreneurs tend to start their own businesses at some point in their lives. On the one hand, this inclination could be deemed risky by the organizations that hire them and invest resources in their professional development. On the other hand, however, hiring someone of the Entrepreneur type may lead to the discovery and development of business opportunities that were previously unimaginable. So, as long as the organization knows how to harness, channel and leverage the talents of entrepreneurs, this type will prove to be very valuable for most organizations.
As I stated before, this model is simple in nature and can also be used to crosscheck other more complex ones. At the end of the day, what leaders and HR professionals need is actionable assessments that can be translated into clear decisions. In fact, regarding this need for actionable assessments, I have found that every single individual can be either readily placed in one of the three employee types or considered as having personality traits from more than one type, thus allowing for a weighted assessment within the model. In either case, the resulting assessment is actionable. In conclusion, knowing this model is a valuable asset for business owners, CEOs, executive managers, HR professionals and anyone else who works with other people.
What do you think?
Can you figure out what type of employee you are today and what type you have been in the past? Can you figure out your coworkers’ employee types? What strategic and operational applications do you see for the model presented herein? What do you think each employee type thinks about important notions such as happiness, success and legacy?
Originally published on Forbes.com.