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Archetypes at the Office: Seriously Short Staffed

How Personality Archetypes Impact Office Politics

How many hours do you spend at work a day? A week? A year? For most workers the answers are 8, 40 and 2,080 respectively. Add that up over a 40-year career and you will spend a whopping 83,200 hours at your place of employment!

Imagine how many interactions you’ll have with co-workers, bosses, customers and partners over that time and you’ll realize that getting along with others is key to your success.

If only getting along was easy. But if you’re honest, it’s only easy with some people … those who have personality profiles that complement your own. With others who may rub you the wrong way, keeping the peace and promoting progress may require more effort.

Enter the Personality Archetypes – a framework brought to us by Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung. According to Jung, ‘Archetypes’ are universal personality types that show up in individuals across time and cultures.

As you get to know these Archetypal characters, you will see yourself reflected in the strengths, motivations and behaviors of one or more of them. You will also see how the different Archetypes align with other people in the office. While we are wired differently, there aren’t any good or bad Archetypes; each has its strengths and shadow side, and each would respond to the exact same situation differently. Consider the following scenario – which Jungian Archetype are you?

Scenario: Seriously Short Staffed

The shift-leader on the production line quit his job with no notice. You’ve been asked to fill-in temporarily, leaving you with responsibility for two full-time positions.

Here’s How Different Archetypes Might Respond

As we can see from the table above, the same situation can spur very different reactions. Each Archetype has a go-to response mechanism. When a challenge takes them out of this comfort zone – they either use their strengths to problem solve, or they respond unconsciously from the shadow side of their personality.

Archetypes can provide wonderful insights as we seek to understand ourselves and learn our own strengths and shadows. And if we can bring Archetypal awareness into every office interaction, our patience and appreciation of diversity will blossom.


You go directly to the Human Resources department to explore company policy and express why this will be hard for you to handle.
Shadow: Easily overwhelmed by change or high demands.
You get every employee on the line to share the load and take responsibility for an additional day of work.
Strength: Inclusive and fair, motivates others to work as a team.
You reach out to the former employee to better understand his reasons for leaving so abruptly.
Strength: Compassion, empathy, and concern.
You stay late every day and work hard to do your best at both jobs.
Shadow: A can-do attitude can lead to over-doing and burn-out.
You object on the grounds that your primary job needs your time and attention and you can’t do both well.
Strength: Truly “pours their heart” into a project.
You remind your boss that you have two weeks of vacation coming and need to use it or lose it.  
Shadow: Avoids making commitments in order to maintain sense of personal freedom.
You redo the schedule so that the additional work can be shared amongst four employees.
Strength: Imaginative problem solving, and attention to details.
You redesign the production line so that it takes one less person.
Strength: Sees gaps in processes and implements cutting-edge ideas.
You persuade one of your colleagues to do the job for you by explaining how it’s in the best interest of the company.
Strength: Can transform situations through the art of persuasion.
You accept the responsibility, but make it clear that your compensation needs to reflect the additional workload.
Strength: Negotiates from a position of experience, leadership, and authority.
You ask for detailed instructions on the temporary position so you can be fully prepared to be successful.
Strength: Invests in the planning and research necessary to succeed.
You figure it will only last a short time and you make the most of it by making a new playlist you can listen to during your shift.
Strength: Finds ways to make work fun.