Adders, Subtractors, Multipliers, and Dividers - The Types of People

If you manage a team, or are looking at hiring, you need to gauge people. Technical abilities are important, but they are not the most critical criteria. Most importantly is attitude. A person’s attitude shapes their behaviour toward people around them. In almost all environments and organisation, no one works alone. For developers, they could be working with other developers, with a DevOps Engineer or a project/product manager, etc.

The ability to collaborate well with people is extremely important and attitude drives that. A good employee or teammate requires less of their technical skillset, and more of their attitude when working with others. When evaluating people in a team, or in general in any organisation, we can categorise people in four types: Adders, Subtractors, Multipliers, and Dividers.

Adders

These are the type of people you want in your team. They always deliver with tremendous results. They are never a burden for the team as they hold their weight with excellent performance. They know what tasks need to be done and how to achieve it. They are capable of the work and they bring more benefits to the organisation than their costs.

Subtractors

These are the type of people you want to avoid having. You can typically spot this type of person during the interview process. However, sometimes you’re stuck with them by inheritance. Subtractors are usually good people, well-liked employees. But their performance is not up to standard.

Don’t mislabel subtractors alongside junior employees. Junior employees are new to the job and may not have all the skills required, so it’s understandable if their performance is coming up short. Subtractors are not new to the job yet they aren’t producing more than they cost. Sometimes subtractors have the required skillset but their results are sloppy or require assistants constantly from other team members.

The good news is we can coach and turn subtractors into adders, given that they have the ability to learn and they have an attitude toward learning. Once turned into adders, they will become a very loyal employee who will grown with the organisation.

Multipliers

Multipliers are adders who not only perform well individually but can also motivate and help others. They are productive and tend to be very proactive and have leadership skills. They know how to collaborate, how to manage up and down. They know how to communicate with the internal team as well as external partners. Most importantly, they motivate, encourage, and lift the team spirit through their work energy.

Dividers

Dividers are subtractors that not only cannot perform, but also damage your team environment. They don’t have accountability for their work. They always come up with excuses instead of realising how they may have underperformed. They backtalk and form side conversations to bad-mouth someone or decision. They are toxic to your team environment. The longer you have them, the more damage they will do to your team culture and morale.