The 16 ‘Office’ Personality Types Every Workplace Leader Encounters
Today’s facility managers and workplace leaders are managing people as much as buildings and technology. They have to be able to build relationships with many different types of people—and that starts with having a better understanding of their colleagues.
Once you know more about what motivates someone, it’s much easier to convince them to work with you, rather than against you.
If you still love watching reruns of “The Office”, you can probably see some of your colleagues in each of the characters at Dunder-Mifflin. You probably relate to some more than others. Our friends at Bustle recently put out a blog post mapping each of the show’s character to one of the 16 personality types determined by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), and we thought it was spot-on. While you should be cautious about using personality testing in the workplace, having a better understanding of yourself and others has clear benefits.
We took a deeper dive into how to spot each type in the workplace, what motivates them, what frustrates them and how to help them succeed.
Analyst Personality Types
1. The Architect (INTJ)
How to Spot Them: Architects are described as fiercely independent and private. They’re typically heads-down, hard workers who would rather work alone than with a team who will slow them down, but they are brilliant analysts who love digging into data. They are confident and decisive, but sometimes their sharp minds can make them appear arrogant or judgmental to others.
What Motivates Them: Architects 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)
How to Spot Them: Individuals in the truest sense of the word, Logicians 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 them guidance, not rules.
3. The Commander (ENTJ)
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. Like Jan, they 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)
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 welcome, and they can also get bored easily. Like Jim, they might 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.
Diplomat Personality Types
5. The Advocate (INFJ)
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, they 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)
How to Spot Them: Mediators are highly imaginative, intuitive and idealistic, and they often gravitate toward careers that allow them to be creative. However, their combination of 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 them the quiet space they need to develop their creative ideas.
7. The Campaigner (ENFP)
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 they 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)
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. Like Holly, they may also gravitate toward HR roles.
Sentinel Personality Types
9. The Logistician (ISTJ)
How to Spot Them: Like Angela, Logisticians are masters of order, deadlines and hard work. Failing to follow through on a deadline or not adhering to an established process is the fastest way to get on their bad side.
What Motivates Them: A desire for duty, dependability and impeccable personal integrity is 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)
How to Spot Them: Defenders are loyal, supportive and practical. 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)
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, 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 advance in their careers.
How to Work With Them: Show them you uphold the rules and are committed to fairness.
12. The Consul (ESFJ)
How to Spot Them: Consuls spread cheerfulness and positive energy everywhere they go. They love to help people and spend time with them. Coming to grips with their sensitivity is one of their biggest challenges. 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, Consuls want to be wanted and needed.
How to Work With Them: Make an extra effort to acknowledge their efforts and achievements.
Explorer Personality Types
13. The Virtuoso (ISTP)
How to Spot Them: Rational, calm and reserved yet also spontaneous risk-takers, the Virtuoso is a man (or woman) of mystery. You might never really know what they’re thinking or what they might do next. They’re not known for their commitment; instead they view every day as a new 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: Something that’s likely to make ISTPs’ day is a random list of things that needs to be fixed or dealt with. Virtuosos have a knack for tackling immediate, hands-on tasks with surprising enthusiasm, as long as they are clearly defined.
14. The Adventurer (ISFP)
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 they can also lean toward the other extreme, pursuing their own interests above all else. (We see both sides of Robert in The Office.)
What Motivates Them: Adventurers are on a constant quest for personal fulfillment.
How to Work With Them: Harness their spontaneous nature 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)
How to Spot Them: Look for the man (or woman) with the microphone! Entertainers crave the spotlight, whether it’s performing onstage 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)
How to Spot Them: Entrepreneurs 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 to make 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. As you notice some of these characteristics among your colleagues, acknowledge and appreciate what makes them who they are. Whenever possible, workplace leaders should create a workplace that supports everyone’s needs. That might mean moving toward an activity-based working model that caters to both introverts and extroverts, for instance.
Above all, recognize that while understanding these 16 personality types can be helpful, no one fits neatly into a box. Everyone is an individual and deserves to be treated that way.