Our study shows that employees give recognition uniformly, but there is a work-style type that has a strong preference to give recognition to others most similar to them.

Have you ever taken a psychometric test to determine your personality type or work style? Most likely, you have. Many companies use these tests to evaluate candidates during their hiring process [1]. Leading companies, such as Chevron and McKinsey & Co., use these tests to help employees work better together.

Work style or the way we think, structure, organize, and complete our work is the foundation upon which businesses operate, grow, and thrive today [2]. Work styles involve the way people interact with each other, think, and get things done. No style is better than any other style. For any team to thrive, it needs different people, ideas, and work techniques [3].

3P Work-Style Framework

At Happily.ai, we adopt the 3P Work-Style Framework, popularized by Professor Simon Johnson (Ronald A. Kurtz (1954) Professor of Entrepreneurship at the MIT Sloan School of Management, head of the Global Economics and Management group), to help employees understand their own motivators and ways of work, as well as their colleagues. In this Framework, each person belongs to a dominant “P” work style, between:

  • Product: Doers, directors of work, and primary drivers to getting things done. However, they may not involve themselves with details and may care more about work getting done than people’s feelings along the way.
  • Process: Thinker, analyzer, and detail-oriented perfectionist. However, they prioritize perfection over getting things done on time and can get lost in the weeds.
  • People: Influencers, socializers, and relationship-builders. However, because they care so much about maintaining relationships, they may shy away from pushing people to get things done or giving necessary critical feedback.

By understanding the strengths and challenges of each group, employees can actively focus on needed areas of improvement while working better with others who belong to the same or different work style.

For example, People-type Andy on the sales team is great at talking and building relationships with his customers but struggles to follow up on details. Process-type Lisa can help Andy keep up with the details and track progress in their sales funnel. In turn, Andy helps Lisa better connect with customers in a more personal and relatable way. Finally, their manager, Product-type Mary prioritizes face-time with Andy and actively recognizes Lisa for the incremental improvements she makes for the team.

How is recognition giving and receiving influenced by work style?

Our Hypothesis: “Recognition is most often given to someone who has the same work style type (same “P” group).”

Our Study

Recognition data was collected across 4 companies (763 employees total), with each employee profiled as a Product, Process, or People type after completing a scenario-based questionnaire. Recognition was recorded (3,197 times) from January to May 2020. The number of members in the Product, Process, and People work-style groups is 253, 214, and 296 persons, respectively.

If recognition was given uniformly across the 3 work-style groups, the expected values would be proportional to the number of members in each group. For example, the Product type, with 253 members out of the total of 763, would be expected to be the recipient of recognition 33.2% of the time.

The percent difference between the real and expected values for each work-style type as recognition receivers by work-style type of recognition giver is displayed in the table below:

Recognition behavior between 3P work styles
Table 1: The percentage of the difference between the proportion of recognition receivers and expected value by work style

A positive percent difference represents a work-style type receiving recognition greater than the expected value. It shows a preference for giving recognition to that work-style group. A negative percent difference represents a work-style type receiving recognition less than the expected value. It shows disfavor for giving recognition to that work-style group.

Our findings are:

  1. Process people have a higher preference for sending recognition to Process people
  2. Process people have disfavor to sending recognition to Product people
  3. Product and People people send coins relatively uniformly to people in other work-style groups

Results show that there is uniformity in receiving recognition when recognition is given by employees in the Product and People work-style group. However, the Process group shows a strong preference for giving recognition to those who are in the same work-style group, while showing disfavor for people in the Product group.

We believe that, because Process people prioritize attention to detail over deadlines, they are more likely to appreciate (and recognize) people who are aligned with those qualities.

Using work styles to help people better collaborate and work together

There is a tendency for us to work with people who are most like us. It’s easier! However, a lack of diversity can be limiting and blocks us from achieving the best results. When working with others, we often spend months learning about how they work, how best to communicate with them, and what we need to look out for. Psychometric assessments can be a great way to get everyone on the same page right away.

If you’re looking to get started, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a popular personality assessment tool (available from 16personalities.com). After taking the test, share the results with your coworkers (especially those that you work closely with). And ask them to share their results with you!

With the results, you should be able to:

  1. Better understand yourself and your key drivers and motivators
  2. Have a conversation with your coworkers about personality or work-style types, focusing on how each person prefers to communicate, work, and deliver results
  3. Study how your personality type overlaps or differs with your direct manager, to learn how to more effectively communicate and manage your interactions with them
  4. If you are a manager, create guidelines for how your management style may be adapted to work best for each of your team members
  5. Ensure different work styles are represented on each project (promoting diversity) [4]
  6. Identify worker needs by understanding workforce needs can lead to the development of a strategy that provides the right resources — space, furniture, and equipment — to optimize worker satisfaction and workplace performance [5]


As we continue to learn, grow, and work better, work styles can help us better understand ourselves and how to work with others. An MBTI personality test or a 3P work-style assessment is a quick and easy way to get started. And our studies show how work styles affect recognition given and received. Our upcoming publications will further explore the working dynamics between different work styles.

A challenge of psychometric tests and their results is that it disappears from the forefront of our attention as we continue to work with others. With Happily, our gamified experience helps employees actively remember the work styles of those around them. Check out how we’ve adapted the 3P work-style framework and helped build community, engagement, recognition, better conversations, and more!






[4 ]https://hbr.org/2015/04/differing-work-styles-can-help-team-performance


[6]Photo by 浮萍 闪电 on Unsplash

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