In part 1 of this series I contended there are only four basic jobs in the world – Producers, Improvers, Builders and Thinkers. These four work types align directly with a company’s strategic, tactical and technical needs as shown in the graphic.

While every job has a mix of all four work types, one or two usually dominate. The primary purpose of this work classification system is to provide managers a means to define their jobs from a performance perspective – what needs to be accomplished – rather than listing the skills required. Selecting people this way will maximize performance, job satisfaction and engagement.

By creating performance objectives for each work type, it becomes quickly apparent which ones are most important. For technically intense positions it’s usually the Producer and Thinker. For launching a big project it’s a combination of the Thinker and Builder. When it comes to managing a team running a process the Improver and Producer are required. Producers are called for when executing a similar process on a regular basis at high levels of quality.

A candidate’s dominate work types are revealed during the interview by digging into the person’s major accomplishments and trend of performance over time. This type of performance-based interview and assessment process is based on what the person has accomplished with his or her skills, experiences and competencies in comparison to the actual performance objectives of the job.

Increase the Engagement Level by Considering Dynamic Work Types

The work type classification system as described is a great first step for matching people with jobs. The fit assessment can be improved further by understanding how people and companies grow, change and interact over time.

A company grows in size from the outside-in as new products and services are designed, built and delivered. People can also be represented in similar fashion, but they grow inside-out, first learning skills and then either expanding their Core or growing into management and leadership positions. Friction is caused by these different inside-outside growth patterns. It’s one reason why people get disengaged when they struggle with implementing change.

performance-based job description addresses these issues by describing individual jobs as a combination of strategic, tactical and technical performance objectives. A person’s accomplishments can also be described in similar fashion. How well both align determines the quality of the job match.

This work type distinction is clearer when jobs are designated as either driving growth or running operations. In this case, jobs involving new products and new markets need to emphasize Thinker and Builder objectives and jobs focused on operations, cost and efficiency need to emphasize Producer and Improver objectives. Here are some examples demonstrating this idea:

Hunter vs. Farmer Account Executive. Getting a new major account requires strategic planning, strong needs analysis at the process level, complex proposal preparation and collaborating with people in all functions inside and outside the company. This requires strength in all work types emphasizing a growth-oriented Builder to bring a big sale into reality. A sales rep taking over the account – the Farmer – needs to focus more on servicing and expanding sales within an account. This is an Improver role with strong Producer knowledge. This is a critical difference few sales leaders fully consider.

Product Development. Engineers assigned to new product development need to be strong using their technical skills in new and creative ways. One could argue that more creativity – the Thinker – combined with a reasonable threshold of Producer technical skills is the best mix. This is not a typical assessment though, since most engineering leaders focus more on technical brilliance rather than hiring someone like Steve Jobs (a world class Thinker Builder) who had just enough tech skills to see a world of new possibilities.

Accounting Reporting Manager. Preparing the monthly financials is clearly a Producer role. Upgrading them and developing the accounting team is an Improver role. If the company wants to ensure non-accounting managers can use these accounting reports to make important decisions, the accounting manager needs to have a multi-functional tactical perspective. If the person is too creative the company will have IRS and SEC problems but his or her ability to think about how to make these reports more meaningful will be spot on.

The work type classification system offers a unique way to define jobs and assess people. Moving to this type of performance-qualified hiring process expands the talent market 10X by opening up the pool to all passive candidates, more diverse candidates, more high-potential candidates and more non-traditional candidates. Best of all, since performance is the measure of success rather than skills and experience, performance is never compromised. Even better, you’ll see and hire more people like Steve Jobs, who in most cases would be seen as misfits, but with work types they’re all stars.