4 types of people at work

At risk of oversimplifying, we tend to view people at work in one of four ways based on their productivity and personality. Selection, promotion, and development decisions are made based on what category we see people in.

It looks a little like this:



Good with People

High Results


Super Star

Low Results

Why are they here?


  1. Good with people and gets great results: we all love these folks. They’re great to be around and they get things done. Co-workers like them, customers like them, and management likes them. We hate, hate, hate to see these people go.
  2. Pleasant person with low results: we tend to like them, wish they’d do more, but make allowances for them because they are easy to work with and don’t cause anyone trouble. They do a great job of building relationships and are liked by customers and liked or tolerated by co-workers and management. Nice compensates a lot for low productivity.
  3. Jerk with high results: we can’t stand them, but they are often tolerated by management because they get things done. They often don’t realize how much they are getting in their own way and how much higher their career would climb if they were easier to get along with. They don’t understand that relationships matter.
  4. Jerk who doesn’t do anything: universally hated. Don’t be this person; don’t manage this person. Any manager who keeps one of these folks on the team instantly loses credibility. They thrive in teams with weak managers and cause a disproportionate amount of damage to the culture and work environment. In an ideal world, everyone in this category would be working for your competition. Realistically, there are a few in your organization right now acting as giant brake on progress.

What do you think? Spot on? Too simple? What are your experiences with these four types of people?

Your thoughts? Please leave a reply.

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