The ‘People’ Quadrant

The top-left quadrant of the Octogram is colored a warm, friendly yellow because this is the home of the warm and friendly traits “Team Player” and “Helper”. These traits are a measure of how much you feel for other people.┬áBut it is not a measure of how well you can deal with people.

A recent candidate filled in the Octogram and got below average scores on the Helper and Team Player traits and thus, a low score for the Yellow Quadrant. She was pretty upset about this, because she is a good manager, who can effectively communicate with her employees and is good at paying attention to their needs.

I’m a supportive manager who understands people! I’m friendly, dammit!

But those characteristics don’t necessarily make you a Team Player or a Helper. Both of those traits have strong negative correlations with personality traits like ‘dominance’ and the ‘management’ career value (both measured by other tests in the Online Talent Manager library). Being a Team Player or Helper isn’t about understanding how people operate, you don’t need to feel what others are feeling to recognize their emotions. Psychopaths don’t have any empathy at all and can still recognize emotions in others.

I didn’t mention the psychopath part to the candidate, that could have led to a bunch of misunderstandings. Besides, the Octogram is blind to psychopathy, it’s not a clinical instrument for identifying dysfunction or mental illness.

So, if the Yellow Quadrant isn’t about measuring your facility for dealing with others, then what is it measuring?

The Team Player trait is a measurement of how comfortable you are as a member of the pack/group. How much time do you enjoy spending on maintaining interpersonal relationships within the team? How much do you enjoy the office birthday cake? Are you the person who enjoys organizing the office birthday gift? Strong Team Players love all of that stuff, love it. In a heated discussion, they are the ones trying to pull others toward a compromise and they are willing to give up a lot of ground in negotiations to keep the peace. As a strong Team Player, you would hate doing things like negotiating sales contracts, and I would be afraid to put you in that position because you would likely give up too much to the other side.

The Team Player trait is also strongly correlated with the need for security; security in the crowd and security in agreements and not making waves. They are good at maintaining warm, long term relations and keeping up a positive atmosphere in the office.

The Helper is measuring your empathy. Sympathy and empathy are often confused in people’s heads. Sympathy just means, “I recognize and understand what you are feeling”. Empathy means, “I am feeling what you are feeling.” Strong Helpers make good counselors and engender a lot of loyalty in their employees, but find it difficult to be “tough” when needed. Helpers have a strong negative correlation with the “management” career value, finding someone who is a strong Helper who wants to be in a management position is like finding a unicorn. That combination is weird, but can be extremely powerful in the right situations.

I hope this has cleared up some of the misunderstanding about this part of the Octogram. A low score in the Yellow Quadrant does not mean that you are, necessarily, terrible at dealing with people. It means that you are less willing to put their needs ahead of your own.


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