Trouble-maker or critical thinker – which ‘bird personality’ are you in the office?

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Mike Irving, a Perth-based business performance mentor, has said that offices are a “hive of personality types” – but warns that most people underestimate the impact personality can have on the bottom line of a business.

Irving, who has studied the behavior of hundreds of people, has found that the ‘peacock’ personality – which is typical of salespeople – has the most potential to cause problems.

Psychological studies often use the term “peacock” to describe these personalities because of their need to “show off”.

“They’re more likely to go into debt to buy their dream car, get the latest fashion look and always have the most up to date gadgets and phone,” Irving said. “I’m sure everyone can think of at least one person in their office who fits into this category – they strut around and seem successful because of the image they portray, commonly borrowing other people’s ideas but communicating it so succinctly that they convince people that they came up with it in the first place.”

According to Irving, there are three other significant personality types that have also been well documented.

“In his book What Makes People Tick, Des Hunt came up with these interesting bird analogies – I see them all every time I go into a workplace,” he said.

The four key ‘bird personalities’ are:
  • Peacock:  Most likely to work in the sales department, or a performance-centric profession such as sport.  An example could be Shane Warne – his desire to be the centre of attention ended up damaging his sporting career and his vice-captaincy of the Australian cricket team.
     
  • Eagle: This is most likely to be the senior manager or CEO, whose top priority is getting things done and achieving targets.  An example could be Gina Rinehart because of her tenacity and determination to efficiently get projects to production.
     
  • Owl:  This is the analyser and critical thinker who is often the managing director or CEO of a company; their attention to detail is significant.  An example could be Bill Gates.
     
  • Dove:  This personality type is the supporter and nurturer of an environment.  They could work in the administration department in a big business, or take up a profession such as nursing or teaching, but are generally not good people supervisors.
“It is when any of these personality types is accompanied by any of the five main attitudinal traits of being critical, negative, blaming, dishonest or unsupportive that the problems start,” Irving said. “If you're hiring people with even one of the attitude traits, then you're going to have problems in the team.”

Personality is becoming more relevant to performance in today’s world of work, according to Irving.

“Increasingly, successful people are understanding that human potential is more about the inner work – things like using intuition and clearing negative energies,” he added.
 
  • Mel on 25/03/2015 5:52:48 p.m.

    Hmm. While I agree that personality makes a difference in the workplace, there are infinitely better tools and models out there to help people predict performance, and understand their colleagues. It's this type of model, unsupported by research (as far as I am aware) that gives personality assessments a bad name, and makes people cynical. Perhaps if the article title had started "Lighter side" (i.e. it's a bit of a laugh) I wouldn't be so worried, but I'd hate to think people would read this and then want to use the bird assessment in the workplace.

  • Helena on 19/03/2015 1:14:41 p.m.

    The whole point of this article, in suggesting that the 'personality types' affect performance, is undermined in this quote, by the reference to 'attitudinal traits': "“It is when any of these personality types is accompanied by any of the five main attitudinal traits of being critical, negative, blaming, dishonest or unsupportive that the problems start,” Irving said. “If you're hiring people with even one of the attitude traits, then you're going to have problems in the team.”"

    The writer may have had more success in speaking to the attitudinal traits, since it doesn't seem to matter according to the quote, which bird they are applied to.

    Yasmin - the Bird personalities model is used in workplace training as an aid to managers and teams learning to tailor their approach to one another and understand themselves.

  • steve on 18/03/2015 2:32:04 p.m.

    Absolutely Yasmin - yet more garbage pseudo nonsense.
    Any HR professional thinking of using this could create a new category for themselves - Dodo. Utterly irrelevant to the success or failure of the business

  • Yasmin Schaefer on 18/03/2015 1:03:11 p.m.

    I am a psychologist and I can honestly say that during my 13 years in the field I have never heard any empirical study, journal article, textbook or colleague in psychology refer to any of these "Personality types". I am very curious to find out about the research these broad generalisations are based on?

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