Adders, Subtractors, Multipliers, and Dividers: Employee Types to Watch For


One of the biggest keys to business success is building a great team—and building a great team doesn’t happen by accident. You’ve got to be deliberate about the kinds of employees you’re looking for. You have to be able to identify who on your current team lives up to your standards, and who needs to be let go.


It’s not an easy job, and many things can get in the way of making objective decisions about who on your staff is working out…and who isn’t.


That’s why it can be useful to have a framework to fit your employees into, to help you step back and take an honest look at how each of your employees fits within your company.


While we acknowledge the fact that it’s almost impossible that people will fit perfectly into these “boxes,” we find that this is a helpful framework when trying to determine how employees contribute to your business.


This is the framework of Multipliers, Adders, Subtractors, and Dividers. (Note: this framework comes from the book The Power of People: Four Kinds of People Who Can Change Your Life by Verna Cornelia Price.)


Multipliers have a positive impact that seems to spread.

They encourage others, and other people seem to work harder because of their efforts. They are happy in their jobs and actively  take steps to progress and grow. They seem to have a collective effect on the company, not only accomplishing their own tasks, but pushing the group as a whole toward bigger goals.


Adders are people that do a good job, consistently.

You can generally count on them to do their tasks well and on time. They individually add value to your company by doing the job they were hired to do. Adders are often hard workers who follow directions and get things done.


In contrast, Subtractors tend to fall a bit behind.

They may not be wreaking havoc on your business or on your profits, but in one way or another, they end up costing you a little more than they’re earning you.


And then there are Dividers.

Just as Multipliers have a collective, positive effect on the company, Dividers have a collective, negative effect on the company. Dividers tend to bring other people down, whether it’s through negativity, criticism, constant complaining, or creating office politics. Dividers can cause serious problems within your team dynamics.


Obviously, Multipliers and Adders are great people to have on your team. They move things forward and do good work. If your business is going to be successful at all, you need to have some Multipliers and Adders in the mix.


Subtractors shouldn’t be considered lost causes. Underperforming employees who are not having a significant negative impact on your company should be encouraged and helped. You may be able to turn them into Adders, or even Multipliers, by helping them identify and work on their weak spots.


Related: Is This Meeting Necessary? Use This Checklist To Find Out


Dividers should be handled with care. More often than not, once someone is identified as a Divider, it might be best to let them go and find a replacement. Hiring a new employee is a hassle, but it’s worth it to rid your company of someone who brings the whole organization down.


Being able to identify your employees’ places in this framework can help you as you work to build a team that will work hard—individually and collectively—to accomplish your company’s goals. Try it out and see what you learn!


Leave a Reply