Employee Types

Understanding Employee Types and How to Motivate Them

5 min read
Lynsey May Sutherland
Lynsey Sutherland

The bigger the blend of personality types your workplace has, the more likely it is to be a resilient and vibrant workplace. However, it’s also worth remembering that a great mixture of personalities means there will be no one-size-fits-all solution for motivating your workforce. 

Instead, it’s important to assess individual personalities and find out what makes each team member tick – that way, you’ll be able to use motivational approaches that are more likely to work. 

Why is it so important to make sure everyone is motivated? Because motivation drives engagement, and engagement can improve a company’s productivity by 21%, reports Forbes. 

How do you work out what kind of employees you have? Dive in to learn more about some of the most common personality types – and how to tap into their motivational drive.

1. The star 

Personality style: Star performers are employees who always want to get the job done – and get it done well. They tend to be competitive and like to know what’s going on. 

How to spot them: Superstars are some of the easiest personality types to spot because they like to ensure they’re shining brightly. Look out for employees who are consistently hitting all their targets and who excel when it comes to productivity. 

Ways to motivate them: Employee recognition is the most important motivator for the star employee. They are driven by the desire to be seen and appreciated. Top-down recognition is important to them, but peer-to-peer recognition will be too. Did you know that peer recognition programs are also 35.7% more likely to positively impact financial results than manager only recognition?

2. The reliable one

Personality style: Reliable and stable employees are the kind of people who come in and get the work done with very little fuss or fanfare.

How to spot them: They can be hard to spot, as they tend to fly under the radar. They typically enjoy a predictable routine and will be happiest with set tasks and a well-defined role.  

Ways to motivate them: Money and flashy rewards aren’t as important to reliable employees as the feeling that they can rely on their position. Focus on great employee communication to ensure they know their role is secure and they’re fulfilling everything expected of them.  

3. The social sort 

Personality style: These energetic and bubbly extroverts tend to get along well with most of their colleagues. 

How to spot them: You’ll know a social employee by the trail of great work relationships that follow in their wake. They’ll be the first to volunteer for group activities and team-building exercises. 

Ways to motivate them: Social employees will always perform best when they have the chance to make friends and bond with their teams. They’ll be most motivated when you prioritise team events, outings and mixers.  

4. The money maker

Personality style: They know what they want, and it comes in the form of a pay packet. Money makers are good performers with an eye on the bottom line.  

How to spot them: You’ll know a money maker by their job history and their willingness to ask for a raise or financial incentives. They may be noticeable by their lavish tastes, but some money makers are frugal when it comes to spending, even though they’re out for the big bucks. 

Ways to motivate them: Cold, hard cash will always be the best motivator for these personality types. This could be in the form of a solid package or financial rewards. Clear communication about career progression and potential raises is also a good idea. 

5. The rare bird

Personality style: These are free-spirited and individualistic employees who like to have a certain level of autonomy in their working life. 

How to spot them: Rare birds are most easily recognised by how they like to go their own way. They are free spirits who may not enjoy following rules but still endeavour to get results. 

Ways to motivate them: One of the best ways to motivate these employees is a sympathetic management style and the freedom to adapt current processes to suit their more eclectic natures. Avoid over-scrutinising their work and give them autonomy wherever you can. 

6. The creative type

Personality style: As natural problem solvers who love to look at new ways of doing things, creative types live for innovation. 

How to spot them: You’ll know them by the interesting ideas and workarounds they bring to the table. They’ll produce many ways to tackle issues and tend to communicate well, as they’re interested in how things and people work. 

Ways to motivate them: To get the best from these innovators, be sure not to stifle their creative urges. Give them space to try new ideas and reward and recognise their contributions. 

7. The scholar

Personality style: These are knowledgeable individuals who have the answer to every question or insight into any situation. 

How to spot them: You’ll know a scholar by their wide-ranging interests and expertise in their field. Their teams tend to turn to them for help and information  – and they’ll always be picked first for any pub quiz.

Ways to motivate them: Knowledge is valuable to scholars and the best motivator is the opportunity to expand their expertise. Ensure you support all of their desires for learning and put employee development at the top of the list. 

8. The fun one 

Personality style: Bubbly, enthusiastic and a real team player, these people get on well with everyone and inject a sense of enjoyment into the working week. 

How to spot them: Spirits tend to be higher when this kind of person is in the mix. You’ll most likely see people gravitate towards them when they need a pick-me-up, and they are always the first to suggest a work night out.  

Ways to motivate them: While these people tend to be brilliant assets to a team, they also often need a good work-life balance. Their natural enthusiasm means they can take on too much and will be motivated by plenty of downtime and harmonious working environments. With 60% of job seekers prioritising work-life balance over financial incentives, it’s one to remember. 

9. The leader

Personality style: They love to lead and advise and are happiest when they can take control of a project.  

How to spot them: No matter what their role, they are the kind of people who tend to gravitate to a position of leadership in any given situation. You’ll recognise them by their willingness to get stuck into tasks and how other people naturally defer to them. 

Ways to motivate them: Give them projects to take the lead on, and they will work to create a high-performing team

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