Archetypes at the Office: Part 1

 In Corporate Culture, Personal and Professional Development, Team Building, The 12 Archetypes

Archetypes at the Office: Part 1

At its core, a company’s culture is comprised of individual personalities. Carl Jung called these personalities ‘Archetypes’ noting that these universal stories manifest both on a personal level and collectively within groups. This is the first in a series of blogs that will explore how Jung’s Archetypal characters show up at the workplace.

The Archetypes

Each personality Archetype brings a unique set of skills, strengths, and specialties to the table. And these gifts come with corresponding shadow traits; areas of personal weakness where we are inspired to evolve.

Each Archetypal character has a favorite angle from which they approach a problem and therefore, each can contribute unique solutions to the team. With the diversity of Archetypal voices in the workplace comes a multitude of perspectives.

“An organization’s culture is made up of all of the life experiences each employee brings to the organization.”

 — Susan M. Heathfield, HR, About.com

In order to understand the particular signature each of the Archetypes has in the workplace, let us consider how you might respond in the following scenario from the perspective of different Archetypes.

Scenario 1: Out of Time and Money

A project you are responsible for is experiencing delays and beginning to creep over its budget. Everything else about it is going very well, and your boss is really impressed with the early results you’re showing. A vendor invoice shows up in your email and is one-third higher than what you negotiated.

Here’s How 12 Archetypes Characters Might Respond

Archetype Response Motivation
Innocent Stall while you try to find a way to please both the vendor and your boss. One shadow side of the Innocent is the tendency to avoid responsibility.
Everyperson Commiserate with the reason for the overruns and offer to split the difference. An Everyperson is ever-empathetic and their preference for fairness motivates cooperation and compromise.
Caregiver Approve the bill for payment, saying “We need to take care of our vendors!” The Caregiver’s compassion leads them to put the needs of others before their own.
Hero Kick in the extra money personally. A Hero does whatever it takes to keep the project moving. Results-oriented, they may ‘bull-doze’ through obstacles for the sake of powering ahead.
Lover Schedule a meeting in person to discuss the overruns face-to -face. A Lover understands the value of relationships; they can ease misunderstandings by making another person feel important and heard.
Explorer Look for a new vendor partner to be ready for the next project. Rarely hung up a particular relationship, the Explorer is quick to part ways and look for who or what is next.
Creator Offer to refer the vendor to several other companies in exchange for a discount on the invoice. Imagination is the Creator’s strong suit; by thinking “outside the box” they are able to craft a solution that works for everybody.
Revolutionary Budget? What budget? On the shadow side, Revolutionaries can get caught up in ideals and lose patience with details and formalities.
Magician Call the boss to explain the overage in a way that reinforces the broad vision for the project and its potential impact. Magicians are visionaries who can use the gift of persuasion to turn dreams into realities.
Ruler Call the vendor and demands an explanation. While happy with the service, additional budget was not approved. Here, the Ruler uses an authoritative air to their advantage, making the rules and regulations work for their purpose.
Sage Request a detailed breakdown of activities to justify the additional expenses. Sages understand the value of research and can find the truth through analysis.
Jester Tucks the email away for another day; the project is going so well that they don’t want to spoil the mood. A shadow side of Jester: While they love a good time, they may avoid difficult situations.

Archetype Psychology

This scenario brings to light the inherent strengths and shadows of the Archetypes of CultureTalk. Which of the responses do you most connect with? Do you see your co-workers in other Archetypes?

By identifying with the Archetypes we allow ourselves to assess our own personalities – where our natural abilities shine and what habits tend to create trouble for us. Understanding our go-to behaviors gives us the chance to pause and choose the best response to a situation. Seeing these common Archetype storylines in how others react, reminds us they are wired differently and inspires more patience and respect for our peers.

Want to find which Archetypal character you line up with? Take our 10-question teaser quiz to find out!

CultureConversationsDeck

Archetypal role-playing can also be a great team-building exercise. Our Culture Conversations Card Deck provides 24 scenarios that can create understanding around a diversity of perspectives.

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