4 Patterns of Work Behavior That You Should Know

There’s no shortage of evidence revealing that millennials are a very misunderstood generation. Many of those misconceptions surround the way they work or how they behave in an office setting: entitled, self-centered, passionate over performance.

But recent research by Business Chemistry suggests that older generations may need to strip away what they think they know about millennials. Using three online studies and a data-driven approach, the group was able to see how working organizations could get more from younger talent by understanding work styles.

Business Chemistry uses analytics to reveal how each person reflects four scientifically-based patterns of behavior: pioneers, drivers, guardians and integrators. Knowing which traits emerge more strongly in which people can help employers drive more rewarding collaboration among teams. As for millennials, they can help  better understand work styles and help young professionals tap into their specific strengths.

Compared to Gen X and boomer colleagues, it turns out millennials are more likely (32 percent) to identify with the guardian style – respectful of what works, wary of change. To the surprise of many, they are least likely (19 percent) to identify as risk-taking pioneers. Because the integrator type is diplomatic and people-focused, one might have expected millennials to dominate that category, but fewer than a quarter (23 percent) identify that way. Millennials are actually more likely to be drivers (27 percent), who focus on outcomes and goals.

Let’s dive into each one a little more. By understanding these four patterns of behavior in the workplace, millennials can themselves and employers facilitate better collaboration and teamwork.


Motto: Have fun, it’s just work!

A pioneer can be recognized by spontaneity and a gift for brainstorming. As the most extroverted of the four types, pioneers are energetic and expressive and have broad networks. They have broad collaborative styles, adapt easily to change and like to jump in and lead the charge to new horizons. They’re also known for making quick gut-based decisions and have a high tolerance for ambiguity and risk.


Motto: And your point is?

The most defining characteristic of a driver is their technical and quantitative orientation. This may take the form of expertise in math, engineering, mechanics, technology or even music. They are known for having a direct style and logical approach. They also have a competitive streak and a willingness to make tough decisions.

When it comes to making such decisions, drivers value strong analysis backed up by logic and facts. They’re good at synthesizing and will look for patterns in complex data. They often like to take charge and enjoy experimentation, often prioritizing goals over relationships.


Motto: Changing the world, one spreadsheet at a time

The number one characteristic of a guardian is: methodical. They are known for being structured, meticulous, detail-oriented and practical. They are also more likely to be conventional, hierarchical, disciplined and frugal. As the most introverted of the four types, they like to speak slowly or not at all, especially if others are dominating the conversation.

When it comes to making decisions, a guardian usually isn’t in a hurry. They’re most comfortable with what’s familiar and tend to be risk averse. As a result, they check every detail before making a decision.


Motto: Consensus rules!

The integrator’s strongest traits are their tendency to avoid confrontation and seek consensus, their empathy and tolerance of ambiguity. Integrators are natural connectors. They connect with people, emphasizing relationships and striving to be helpful. They also connect ideas with nonlinear, big-picture and contextual focus.

They’re also known as traditional, trusting and dutiful. Integrators tend to think through decisions carefully and seek a lot of input from others, trying to foster a sense of agreement. They’re not keen on risk, but if they see the group heading in that direction, they may be more inclined to get on board. To them, people are the most important part of decision making.

Any government workplace can have a pioneer, driver, guardian, integrator or – as millennials tend to resent being defined at all – none of the above. Regardless, understanding these character types will help young professionals grasp their potential strengths and how to work with others who identify with certain characteristics in diverse workplaces, across teams and across generations.


For more reading about millennials in public service, check out this weekly GovLoop series, First 5: Advice from millennial to millennial


Leave a Comment

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply