The 16 ‘Office’ Personality Types Every Workplace Leader Encounters
You might find that you enjoy some of the perks that come with working from home. There’s flexibility in your schedule and perhaps fewer interruptions during your workday. And yet without offices, many people are finding it difficult to have serendipitous conversations with coworkers.
Today’s modern facility managers and workplace leaders have to be able to build relationships with many different personality types — and that starts with having a better understanding of their colleagues. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the conversation around facilities management is no longer just about managing buildings and technology.
If you still love watching reruns of “The Office,” you may see some of your colleagues — or recognize a little of yourself — in each of the personality types found in the characters at Dunder-Mifflin. Back in 2018, Bustle posted a blog that maps each of the show’s characters to one of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) personality types, and we think it is spot-on. While you should be cautious about using personality testing in the workplace, it can be a way to understand yourself and others — especially in the context of COVID-19.
We took a deeper dive into how to spot the different personality types in the workplace, what motivates them, what frustrates them, and how to help them succeed.
Analyst Personality Types
The four Analyst personality types address challenges with logic and remain calm in difficult situations. As a result, they may have adapted to the changes brought on by COVID-19 easier than other personality types. However, because they are problem-solvers, they may feel frustrated by the lack of solutions to the current crisis.
Their strengths are well-suited for sorting fact from fiction and figuring out how to improve any situation. That can benefit the whole team, as long as the Analysts remember the value of being cooperative and flexible with the other personality types.
1. The Architect (INTJ)
Character from The Office: Darryl Philbin
How to spot them: Architects are described as fiercely independent and private. They’re heads-down, hard workers who would rather work alone than with a team who will slow them down. They love digging into data. Both confident and decisive, their sharp minds can sometimes make them appear arrogant or judgmental to others.
What motivates them: Architect personality types thrive when tackling an intellectually stimulating challenge.
How to work with them: Give them a clearly defined problem to solve, a timeline, and the tools they need to uncover the answer (such as access to key facility management metrics). Then leave them alone to let them work their magic!
2. Logician (INTP)
Character from The Office: Dwight Schrute
How to Spot Them: Individuals in the truest sense of the word, Logician personality types are inventive, creative, and intelligent. They’re great analysts and abstract thinkers. However, they are extremely private, often mysterious, and may miss social or emotional cues, which can make them appear insensitive or eccentric to others.
What Motivates Them: Logicians love exploring ideas and theories and immersing themselves in technical subject matter.
How to Work With Them: Similar to Architects, Logicians want to be given a challenge that’s intellectually stimulating and then be left alone. Give these personality types guidance, not rules.
3. The Commander (ENTJ)
Character from The Office: Michael Scott
How to Spot Them: As their name suggests, Commanders are natural-born leaders. Their combination of confidence and charisma makes them uniquely equipped to motivate people to work toward their vision. These personality types are strong-willed and firm. However, they can also be stubborn, impatient, and even ruthless if others aren’t willing to follow them.
What Motivates Them: Commanders have a singular mission to accomplish their goals, no matter what it takes.
How To Work With Them: They will listen to others who demonstrate they are equally competent. Give your recommendation to them with confidence, but make sure you have the expertise to back it up.
4. The Debater (ENTP)
Character from The Office: Jan Levinson
How to Spot Them: The ultimate devil’s advocate, this is someone who will argue — not necessarily to accomplish a larger goal — but just for the fun of it. Debaters are energetic, quick thinkers — but their argumentative nature isn’t always welcomed by other personality types. Easily bored, this type is likely to entertain themselves (and others) with elaborate pranks.
What Motivates Them: Above all, debaters are motivated by a quest to better understand the world.
How to Work With Them: Give them some independence. Although Debaters enjoy being around others, they work best when they’re working in a consulting role or in a flexible working environment.
Recommended: What Is Hot Desking in 2020 and Beyond?
Diplomat Personality Types
The four Diplomat personality types are the compassionate connectors, contributors, and collaborators of the workforce. Because of their natural compassion, these personality types may be feeling afraid or discouraged. They’re likely to be experiencing a great deal of concern for others right now.
They have a humanistic approach that makes them well suited for spreading positivity and supporting the emotional well-being of others during this crisis. They’ll be great at letting their colleagues know they care — as long as they remember to take time to prevent burnout.
5. The Advocate (INFJ)
Character from The Office: Angela Martin
How to Spot Them: Advocates are a rare breed. They can be difficult to get to know due to their reserved nature, but they are decisive, determined, and tremendously loyal to the ones they love.
What Motivates Them: Like Mediators, Advocates are motivated by their ideals and pursuit of perfection. When they don’t feel they’re working toward something they believe in, these personality types get restless and easily frustrated.
How to Work With Them: Be clear about the bigger picture you’re trying to accomplish. Respect their privacy and don’t invade their personal space.
6. The Mediator (INFP)
Character from The Office: Pam Beesly
How to Spot Them: Mediators are highly imaginative, intuitive, and idealistic, and they often gravitate toward careers that allow them to be creative. However, the combination of their rich imagination and introverted tendencies means they can live inside their head too much, ignoring practical matters like deadlines or data.
What Motivates Them: Mediators seek harmony and meaning in their work. They truly want to help people but because they can get easily overwhelmed, they tend to invest most of their energy into a few people or causes.
How to Work With Them: Get them to believe in your mission and give these personality types the quiet space they need to develop their creative ideas.
7. The Campaigner (ENFP)
Character from The Office: Erin Hannon
How to Spot Them: The campaigner loves people and can brighten anyone’s day. They can make friends with everyone, floating easily between social circles (and sometimes talking your ear off). Curious, energetic, and enthusiastic, they have great ideas and exceptional people skills — but these personality types can fall short when it comes to following through. They find it difficult to focus on practical, detail-oriented tasks.
What Motivates Them: Campaigners are happiest when they’re exploring new ideas and working with others.
How to Work With Them: Invite them to your brainstorming session, but don’t hesitate to redirect the conversation when they go off on a tangent. Help them stay focused.
8. The Protagonist (ENFJ)
Character from The Office: Kelly Kapoor
How to Spot Them: Charismatic and inspiring leaders, protagonists are warm, friendly, and caring. They find it easy to communicate with others and are known for lifting them up, making protagonists the ultimate “cheerleader.”
What Motivates Them: Like their other Diplomat companions, Protagonists seek harmony and will work tirelessly to achieve it. They are great at rallying large groups of people to join their cause.
How to Work With Them: Give these personality types opportunities to work in teams where they’re free to express opinions and suggestions, collaborate with their team, and support others.
Sentinel Personality Types
Sentinels are creatures of habit, preferring stability in their daily lives. Because of their love of routine, the pandemic may have been particularly disruptive to these personality types. They may feel a sense of duty to help others during this time; these hard workers are uniquely sensible and ready to take action.
Dedicated and consistent, sentinels can be trusted to see difficult tasks through to completion. Their practicality helps them face even the most difficult challenge by remaining task-oriented and orderly. Because they’re so dependable, they can help bring a sense of structure and security to their colleagues during this time — as long as they remember that they should leave some room for flexibility.
9. The Logistician (ISTJ)
Character from The Office: Oscar Martinez
How to Spot Them: Logisticians are masters of order, deadlines, and hard work. The fastest way to get on their bad side is failing to follow through on a deadline or not adhering to an established process.
What Motivates Them: A desire for duty, dependability and impeccable personal integrity are at the core of everything they do.
How to Work With Them: Do your part! Clarify your role and next steps after a discussion and then make sure you follow through.
10. The Defender (ISFJ)
Character from The Office: Jim Halpert
How to Spot Them: Defenders are loyal, supportive, and practical personality types. As their name suggests, they will passionately defend people or causes that are important to them. However, they are often reluctant to change and can become easily stressed as they try to meet others’ expectations.
What Motivates Them: They are motivated by a strong sense of duty to others.
How to Work With Them: Defenders rarely ask for help, so ask them what you can do to make it easier for them to do their job.
11. The Executive (ESTJ)
Character from The Office: Holly Flax
How to Spot Them: Executives believe in law and order, honesty, and hard work above all else. They’re often the first person to point out a rule violation, and they detest cheating or laziness. They are well equipped to lead other personality types, but their greatest challenge is recognizing that not everyone thinks the way they do.
What Motivates Them: Executives are ambitious and motivated by a desire to improve their effectiveness and to advance in their careers.
How to Work With Them: Show them you uphold the rules and are committed to being honest and fair.
12. The Consul (ESFJ)
Character from The Office: Phyllis Vance
How to Spot Them: Consuls spread cheerfulness and positive energy everywhere they go. They love to help people and spend time with them. One of their biggest challenges is coming to grips with their sensitivity. They don’t take well to criticism or rejection and can sometimes come across as needy because of their constant desire for reassurance.
What Motivates Them: Above all, Consul personality types want to be wanted and needed.
How to Work With Them: Make an extra effort to acknowledge their efforts and achievements and clearly define their role and responsibility.
Explorer Personality Types
At the heart of it, explorer personality types are bold, hands-on, and enthusiastic. They love to learn, experiment, and discover new things. Explorers go with the flow and are naturally flexible, even when facing uncertainty. Thanks to their spontaneity and flexibility, they are great in a crisis. But the monotony of quarantine may be difficult for Explorer personality types, who are likely to feel unmotivated right now.
Explorers are experts in agility. They have the traits and tools that can help others adapt quickly in this stressful time — which will help minimize the negative impact of the pandemic. On the other hand, these personality types like excitement, so they’ll need to avoid getting distracted and leaving things unfinished.
13. The Virtuoso (ISTP)
Character from The Office: Toby Flenderson
How to Spot Them: Rational, calm, and reserved yet also spontaneous risk-takers, the Virtuoso personality types are people of mystery. You might never really know what they’re thinking or what they’ll do next. They’re not known for their commitment; instead, they view every day as an opportunity to start fresh and always seem to be taking on new endeavors. Virtuosos have a blunt, sometimes risque sense of humor and know how to diffuse tense situations with a well-placed joke.
What Motivates Them: Virtuosos value independence and fairness most of all.
How to Work With Them: A random list of things that needs to be fixed or dealt with will make their day. Virtuosos have a knack for tackling immediate, hands-on tasks with surprising enthusiasm, as long as they are clearly defined.
14. The Adventurer (ISFP)
Character from The Office: Meredith Palmer
How to Spot Them: Like Virtuosos, Adventurers live in the moment and enjoy pursuing their various passions. They are often unpredictable and aren’t great at planning for the future, but they have a zest for life and a certain irresistible charm. Adventurers who are outwardly focused can act with amazing charity and selflessness, but these personality types can also lean toward the other extreme, pursuing their own interests above all else.
What Motivates Them: Adventurers are on a constant quest for personal fulfillment.
How to Work With Them: Harness the spontaneous nature of these personality types by sending them on an important mission, whether it’s joining a sales meeting or attending a conference to get the scoop on a big competitor.
15. The Entertainer (ESFP)
Character from The Office: Andy Bernard
How to Spot Them: Look for the personality types with the microphone! Entertainers crave the spotlight, whether it’s performing on stage or giving a presentation. They are social butterflies, and their charisma and originality also make them great at sales, hospitality, and people-oriented careers. However, they can become easily bored and lose focus, especially if they’re working alone.
What Motivates Them: For Entertainers, there’s nothing better than being surrounded by people they love and making them laugh.
How to Work With Them: Appeal to their sense of fun. Talk to them about their latest vacation or tell them a joke before getting down to business.
16. The Entrepreneur (ESTP)
Character from The Office: Ryan Howard
How to Spot Them: Entrepreneur personality types are true innovators and risk-takers. They will plunge headfirst into a promising new opportunity, sometimes without thinking through the consequences. They thrive in social settings and love learning new things but often feel stifled in corporate environments. They believe rules were made to be broken and won’t hesitate to speak out or rebel.
What Motivates Them: Entrepreneurs live for new experiences, new ideas, and new technology.
How to Work With Them: Get them excited about what your company is doing that’s on the cutting edge, whether it’s a new product or workplace technology that makes their jobs easier.
Making Sense of Many Workplace Personality Types
Working with so many different types of people is part of what makes life interesting.
Personality tests can be a fun way to spur some interesting, much-needed dialogue between colleagues — and maybe even help shine a light on individual strengths and weaknesses. But recognize that while these 16 personality types can be helpful, no one fits neatly into a box. Each person on your team has their own distinct set of beliefs, individual goals, and personal experiences that influence the personality types you see.
As you notice some of the characteristics of these personality types among your colleagues, acknowledge and appreciate what makes them who they are. When you understand each person’s motivations, you can help everyone on the team embrace a shared vision of what comes next.
Part of great leadership is creating a workplace that supports everyone’s needs. And when you return to the office, that might mean moving toward a more flexible office layout that caters to everyone’s strengths and supports their unique personality types.