Work Type analysis allows companies to use the product like cycle as a guide to divide work into four categories: Thinker, Builder, Improver, Producer. This approach breaks down the artificial barriers based on skills and experiences.
In The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired I make the case that in order to build a diverse workforce of extremely talented people you need to define all jobs as a series of 5-6 performance objectives. This needs to replace the laundry list of skills, experience and "must have" competencies found on most job boards.
These types of performance-based job descriptions are not only more compelling they also open the talent pool to more diverse, high potential and older people who can do the work but have a different mix of skills and experiences. Competency can be proven using a performance-based interviewing process that requires the candidates to provide detailed examples of comparable accomplishments.
One way to develop the performance objectives is to just ask the hiring manager what the person needs to do to be successful in the job. This normally includes one or two major objectives and three to four sub-tasks. For example, a major objective might be, "Lead the effort with design and operations to prepare a two-year product roadmap." This is a lot better than defining the job as, "Must have an MBA, a technical degree, 6-8 years industry experience and a results-oriented attitude."
The Four Work Types
Work Types is another way to develop these performance objectives. This approach classifies work into four categories that map directly to the classic product life cycle. This is shown in the graphic and described below. When opening up a new job requisition ask the hiring manager to develop 1-2 performance objectives for each Work Type. When completed put the objectives in priority order. One or two Work Types will typically stand out.
During the interview have candidates describe their 2-3 most significant career accomplishments. Then assign these to Work Types to see if there's a match on scope, scale and complexity. Aside from being a more predictive interview, this is a great way to overcome differences in industry and work experiences.
The Four Basic Work Types
Thinkers: These people are the idea generators, strategists, and creative types. They're at the front end of the growth curve, and their work covers new products, new business ideas, and different ways of doing everyday things. Sometimes they get in the way once the company or projects begin to grow. An example of a performance objective for the Thinker could be, "Develop a workaround to the technical bottleneck to ensure the launch date is met."
Builders: These people take ideas from the Thinker and convert them into reality. Entrepreneurs, project managers and turnaround executives are typical jobs that emphasize the Builder component. They thrive in rapid change situations, make decisions with incomplete information and can create some level of order out of chaos. They feel strangled in bigger organizations. "Rebuild the entire product management department in 90 days to support the global launch," would be an example of a Builder performance objective.
Improvers: These are the people who take an existing project, process or team, organize it and make it better. In a moderately growing company they are charged with upgrading a new system, converting an outdated process or rebuilding a department. In a mature company they're the ones that need to implement major and minor change despite heavy resistance. Here's an example of an Improver performance objective: "Develop a detailed plan for upgrading the international reporting system over the next 18 months."
Producers: Technical skills dominate the Producer Work Type. A pure Producer is someone who executes a repeatable process on a regular basis. More often, the Producer Work Type is a component of the job, for example, combining problem-solving (the Thinker) with some technical process to implement a solution. Here's an example of a pure Producer performance objective: "Handle 6-7 inbound calls per day at a 90% resolution rate."
Regardless of the size or scale, most work requires a mix of different thinking, project management, process improvement and executing skills. Getting the scale, scope and mix right is essential for hiring the right person.
Some types of work are more at the front end of the cycle, some bulge in the middle, some are heavily weighted towards process implementation and some are balanced throughout. Regardless, knowing how a job is weighted by these Work Types allows a company to better match people with the roles they're being hired for rather than hoping there is a good fit.