People classifications

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Social systems thinkers like to invent a classification scheme and build a world view upon it.

This paper questions this classical approach to management science.

Contents

Introduction. 1

Eysenck's model of personality - edited from Wikipedia. 1

Jungs’ Enneagram of personality types - edited from Wikipedia. 2

Belbin’s classification of team roles (not personality types) - edited from Wikipedia. 3

Conclusions and remarks. 4

 

Introduction

Many classifications (one, two and multi-dimensional schemas) have been devised for classifying people by personality, by role or other criterion.

And most are dangerous in the hands of managers

 

This is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek classification of personality – for which I have forgotten the source

 

Clever

Not clever

Hard working

Dangerous

Useful (workers)

Lazy

Useful (save time and money)

Useless

 

Using a simple version of Eysenck's model of personality, you could pigeon-hole all employees in one of four personality quadrants.

 

Stable

Neurotic

Extravert

 

 

Introvert

 

 

 

What follows is intended only to give you a flavour of the many different classifications that have been proposed.

All are of questionable value in management science, for reasons given at the end of the paper.

Eysenck's model of personality - edited from Wikipedia

The following table describes the traits that are associated with the three dimensions in Eysenck's model of personality.

 

Psychoticism

Extraversion

Neuroticism

Aggressive

Sociable

Anxious

Assertive

Irresponsible

Depressed

Egocentric

Dominant

Guilt Feelings

Unsympathetic

Lack of reflection

Low self-esteem

Manipulative

Sensation-seeking

Tense

Achievement-oriented

Impulsive

Moody

Dogmatic

Risk-taking

Hypochondriac

Masculine

Expressive

Lack of autonomy

Tough-minded

Active

Obsessive

JungsEnneagram of personality types - edited from Wikipedia

 

Type

Characteristic role

Ego fixation

Holy idea

Basic fear

Basic desire

Temptation

Vice/Passion

Virtue

Stress

Security

1

Reformer

Resentment

Perfection

Corruptness, imbalance, being bad

Goodness, integrity, balance

Hypocrisy, hypercriticism

Anger

Serenity

4

7

2

Helper

Flattery (Ingratiation)

Freedom, Will

Being unloved

To feel love

Deny own needs, manipulation

Pride

Humility

8

4

3

Achiever

Vanity

Hope, Law

Worthlessness

To feel valuable

Pushing self to always be "the best"

Deceit

Truthfulness, Authenticity

9

6

4

Individualist

Melancholy (Fantasizing)

Origin

Having no identity or significance

To be uniquely themselves

To overuse imagination in search of self

Envy

Equanimity (Emotional Balance)

2

1

5

Investigator

Stinginess (Retention)

Omniscience, Transparency

Helplessness, Incapability, Incompetence

Mastery, Understanding

Replacing direct experience with concepts

Avarice

Non-Attachment

7

8

6

Loyalist

Cowardice (Worrying)

Faith

Being without support or guidance

To have support and guidance

Indecision, doubt, seeking reassurance

Fear

Courage

3

9

7

Enthusiast

Planning (Anticipation)

Wisdom, Plan

Being trapped in pain and deprivation

To be satisfied and content

Thinking fulfillment is somewhere else

Gluttony

Sobriety

1

5

8

Challenger

Vengeance (Objectification)

Truth

Being harmed, controlled, violated

Self-protection

Thinking they are completely self-sufficient

Lust (Forcefulness)

Innocence

5

2

9

Peacemaker

Indolence (Daydreaming)

Love

Loss, fragmentation, separation

Wholeness, peace of mind

Avoiding conflicts, avoiding self-assertion

Sloth (Disengagement)

Action

6

3

 

Belbin’s classification of team roles (not personality types) - edited from Wikipedia

Belbin's 1981 book Management Teams presented conclusions from his work studying how members of teams interacted during business games run at Henley Management College.

Amongst his key conclusions was the proposition that an effective team has members that cover eight (later nine) key roles in managing the team and how it carries out its work.

This may be separate from the role each team member has in carrying out the work of the team.

 

·         Plant: A creative, imaginative, unorthodox team-member who solves difficult problems.

·         Resource Investigator: The "Resource Investigator" is the networker for the group.

·         Chairman (1981) / Co-ordinator (1988): The "Chairman/Co-ordinator" ensures that all members of the team are able to contribute to discussions and decisions of the team.

·         Shaper: A dynamic team-member who loves a challenge and thrives on pressure.

·         Monitor-Evaluator: A sober, strategic and discerning member, who tries to see all options and judge accurately.

·         Team Worker: The "Team Worker" is concerned to ensure that interpersonal relationships within the team are maintained.

·         Company Worker (1981) / Implementer (1988): The "Implementer" is the practical thinker who can create systems and processes that will produce what the team wants.

·         Completer Finisher: The "Completer Finisher" is the detail person within the team.

·         Specialist (1988): Belbin later added a ninth role, the "Specialist", who brings 'specialist' knowledge to the team.

Conclusions and remarks

It is not hard to invent classifications of system types, problem types, society types and personality types.

The classification schema may take the form of a simple scale, a hierarchy, a grid, a matrix or other.

 

People are drawn to schemas that promise to simplify the choices they have to make.

You may be tempted to use a schema to:

·         rewrite world history to match it, build a world view around it

·         help you choose one path or solution option over another

·         decide how people will be organised and/or what roles they play.

·         pigeon-hole somebody and start treating them as a type rather than an individual.

 

The trouble is – it is difficult to test the validity of schemas as a decision-making tool.

The danger is that a classification scheme can be used to:

·         avoid dealing with problems or people as individuals

·         avoid taking responsibility for a decision

·         hide personal prejudices behind a superficial rationale.

 

And since alternative choices are never explored, any or every use may be presented as evidence of the scheme’s validity.

 

A personality classification pigeon holes people in a way that can give a manager an excuse not to understand and manage the individual.

It can lead a manager to discount a person’s flexibility and ability to occupy other pigeon holes.

It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When a manager manages a person according to preconceptions, they can force the person either to behave that way, or to rebel

 

So be very wary of pigeon-holing people using classification schemes.

See also the “Human Factors in Hierarchical Organisations” page at http://avancier.website.

 

 

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