Shrugging off the myth of the average worker

Analysing and forecasting work behaviours relies on a lot of generalisation and reliance on ‘averages’. But the idea of an ‘average worker’ is a myth. Who is this mysterious person who always takes exactly 5.8 sick days a year?

The differences between us inform all kinds of things, from the roles we do to how we do them and where we do them best.

It’s no surprise that emphasis on diversity and neurodivergence have rocketed up priority lists for business leaders looking to genuinely understand and empower their workforce. Diversity is proven to make business sense and true agility and effectiveness are intimately linked to the freedom that comes from directing your own goals and objectives.

To ram this point home, top management consulting firm Bain and Company have undertaken a massive study identifying six entirely discreet worker types. Each brings its own motivations and personal focus, and shows not just how different types are suitable for contrasting job types but how their different attitudes to problem-solving techniques can make them intrinsically suited to very different problems. For managers, it’s potentially gold dust, shedding light on why people may have excelled in certain challenges but not in others.

Here are the 6 worker types Bain and Company identified. Does anyone sound familiar?

Operator

Life is about more than work for Operators, who see work as a means to an end. They don’t try to stand out, and can provide the dependable backbone of an organisation, but this means they can become disengaged and lack proactivity. 

Giver

Givers treat work as service and feel rewarded by seeing their efforts positively impacting other peoples’ lives. This human touch makes them selfless, but can also make them impractical.

Artisan

Artisans want to master their craft and hone their skills. Learning is a lifelong journey. They raise the bar for performance and are great at solving complex challenges, but can become aloof and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Explorer

Explorers see life as an adventure and crave excitement and variety from their role. They can help inspire adaptability in an organisation, throwing themselves enthusiastically into any task, sometimes losing directing and conviction in the process.

Striver
Strivers want to make something of their lives and have high standards for themselves. They tend to be disciplined and transparent but their natural competitiveness can erode trust and camaraderie.

Pioneer
Pioneers are trying to change the world and have strong views about how things should be. Their energy and passion for change is infectious, but being so uncompromising can have its downsides.

Not everyone will fit neatly into one of these moulds, but thinking less about averages and more about the impact that individual preferences, passions, experiences and lifestyles have on productivity and role is definitely going to benefit progressive businesses.

After all, ‘agility’ is just a word. If you want to see the benefits of an agile working methodology you have to create the conditions in which it can thrive – and that includes a nuanced understanding of the human beings who get stuff done. Their ambitions, fears, quirks, goals and ideas. Hotbox products are designed to empower individual workers in their own personal work style. And if that philosophy is applied across the entire employee experience, who knows how much untapped potential is waiting to be released?

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