Which Incentive Suits Whom? – A Survey Over the Rewards for the Main Corporate Personalities

In our second lecture we talked about how different personalities have different influence on the organization and its performance. Variations in personality lead to a more heterogeneous company and, as scientists tell us, usually a diversity of personalities should lead to a more creative and innovative environment.

But of course heterogeneity does not only create advantages. Organizations are confronted by challenges in different areas resulting from diversity. For example the chances that conflicts arise within the organization increases when multiple personalities are involved in processes. As Marc already stated in his blog post, the gender makes a difference in the way people are motivated, but also each personality type demands for different types of motivational incentives.

As I found out in my research and as it is common in many areas of science, there is a variety of opinions on how many different personalities there exist at workplaces. Further, it is important to know that one can come up with a different classification of personalities depending on which area of the work environment one focuses on. In the following I will summarize some of the workplace personalities I found and give short pieces of advice about how to motivate them.

Corporate Personalities, their percentage in the company and their career progression

Corporate Personalities, their percentage in the company and their career progression

The Forbes Magazine published an article listing 9 types of corporate personalities:

  1. The Alpha
  2. The Bambi
  3. The Believer
  4. The Heretic
  5. The Natural
  6. The Pragmatic
  7. The Soldier
  8. The Survivor
  9. The Toiler

For detailed explanations please refer to: http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevefaktor/2012/11/15/feature-the-9-corporate-personality-types-how-to-inspire-them-to-innovate/

As it is unfortunately not possible to see the authors motivational incentives (the registration on his website failed when I tired it), I thought about how to motivate each group myself. In the following, I will focus on the groups where the evaluation of the correct incentive might be not obvious and where a more detailed explanation might be necessary.

Alphas, on the one hand, are a major asset for every company but can evolve to a dangerous threat in case they are not aligned with the organizations aims. Thus it is very important to keep them lined up with the organizational goals by motivating them. Alphas are usually quite high up in the hierarchy and one might think financial or materialistic incentives would not work for them but that is a misjudgement of their personality. As stated in the article, they obtain high portions of their self-esteem from people’s perception of them. Therefore, visible, materialist rewards are perfect for them. Another possible reward can be the leadership over a project to address their sense for ambition.

The Bambis, on the other hand, are quite easy to satisfy in motivational matters. They are new, inexperienced and hence nearly any kind of incentive works for them. Materialistic incentives work for their motivation as good as additional responsibility. More responsibility is in fact a cheap way to motivate them, as the eager, opportunity hungry Bambi is striving for ascent in the hierarchy.

Steve Faktor states it in his Forbes article best: “[the Heretics] commitment and vision will get the best from subordinates – as long as they maintain momentum and stay motivated.” Therefore, incentives here are extremely important – and extremely difficult. How does one motivate a person, who is as difficult to assess as the Heretic? You do not even know if any incentive will pay off or if it is even necessary. Thus, trial and error is the most suitable option. Try different rewards and observe how they react. If they are content as reaction to the reward, the reward seems to suit them. Otherwise, different motivational measures should be implemented for them. Generally, as Heretics are doing their own thing, showing them your trust and giving them responsibility might be a good start to give a trial, but as every heretic has his own specific character traits, there is no simple, universal solution for this group.

The Toilers are quite simple to motivate. As one can see from the explanations above, everyone can be rewarded similarly even though the efficiency of each reward might differ. For the Toiler this applies as well but, as he is working for his life after work, he is most likely fine with financial bonuses and not too interested in responsibility or advancement.

The Survivor can be tricky to motivate, but their name states it all: they will survive. Thinking about them, they are similar to Toilers. Both of them just survive the everyday company life – on different hierarchical levels – but their essential characteristics are similar: they work for their life outside work, thus the same incentives are applicable for the Survivor as for the Toiler.

Thus, each group is demanding for different types of incentives and rewards as stated above. There can be further differentiation not only by the form, whether material or immaterial, but also by e.g. the type of reward within the group of material incentives, so if it should be money or rather tangible items, and also by the amount, which usually increases with the position in the hierarchy and the time working in the company.


  • http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/personality-affects-behavior-workplace-7367.html
  • http://www.forbes.com/sites/stevefaktor/2012/11/15/feature-the-9-corporate-personality-types-how-to-inspire-them-to-innovate/
  • http://www.16personalities.com/intjs-at-work
  • http://www.reliableplant.com/Read/18127/can’t-we-all-just-get-along-understing-6-workplace-personalities
  • http://dashburst.com/workology-workplace-personality-types/

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