Four Types of People at Work

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I have always enjoyed reading the following words in Dr. R.L. Bhatia’s book “The Executive Track – An Action Plan for Self-Development”.

It goes like this –

He who knows not, and knows not that he knows not, is a fool – shun him;

He who knows not, and knows that he knows not is ignorant – teach him;

He who knows, and knows not that he knows, is asleep – wake him;

But he who knows, and knows that he knows is a wise man – follow him” –  Unknown - Arabic Proverb

The above proverb has been one of my favorites all these years and I have always grabbed the opportunity to share them with my students.

Based on this proverb, I try to plot four types of people at work. If you observe people at your workplace, you would invariably find your boss and your colleagues easily sliding into one of these slots. Check this out and let me know your thoughts.

Type 1 People– The Destroyer

The Destroyers exhibit their lack of knowledge in two ways. The first way is to portray an “I know it all” attitude and behavior. Whether invited or not, they never fail to give their opinion or suggestion and pride themselves on being an all-rounder. They make their presence felt in all meetings and discussion. However, their ideas are absurd and go unnoticed or ridiculed. Unfortunately, in the process, they display their ignorance and make a fool of themselves. The other kind is the “know-nothing” breed and completely clueless about it. They lack working knowledge even in their own area and are unwilling to change, learn, or progress at work.

Nevertheless, they expect team respect and force their presence almost everywhere. They are not conscious of others’ feelings or views about them. Even if you have just one Destroyer in your team, you will find yourself giving up or shelving your project/ideas. Teaming with destroyers will be a disaster and will cause the downfall of the group / team. Hence, it is wise to handle the destroyers with care and shun them.

Type 2 People - The Sober

Type 2 kinds of people are those who are aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They know their abilities and limitations. These people are honest to accept that they lack knowledge in some areas and are open for learning. They accept responsibilities at work, though they do not have enough expertise or skills to do the job. The team need not worry about the Sobers, because they are capable of contributing to team productivity through training and learning. It is easier to deal with the Sobers because they are open, flexible, eager to learn and adaptable.

Type 3 People - The Wanderer

The Wanderers are people who go with the flow. They do what you tell them to do and do it to the dot. Though they may have loads of information, skills, and abilities, they do not put them to use. Rather, they do not know when and how far to exhibit their knowledge and skills.

It depends on the colleagues and superiors to draw out the hidden potentials in the wanderers and provide them with opportunities to test their knowledge. With little encouragement and support, the wanderers will be useful to any working teams.

Type 4 People - The Builder

The Builders are the employer’s pride. These people bring creative ideas and novel thoughts without worrying about someone stealing their ideas. They have the confidence that they can generate loads of ideas and are great teachers at workplace. They are happy to share their knowledge and expertise and gain pleasure in helping people succeed at work.

Colleagues at work appreciate the Builders for their skills, knowledge sharing, speed, and efficiency at work. When you are with the Builders, you tend to gain knowledge and expertise. Builders are often looked upon as leaders at workplace. They radiate energy and enthusiasm at work.

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