Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

Boy Bands and Teamwork: Balancing Diverse Personality Types in the Office

Boy bands dominated the music scene in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. You couldn’t turn on a radio without hearing a sappy love song or an uptempo pop tune sung by a group of good-looking dudes with killer harmonizing skillz.

Yeah, skills with a z. That’s how serious they were.

Whether you loved or hated the boy band trend, you undoubtedly noticed the formula behind the members. Powerhouses like ‘N Sync (my personal favorite), The Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, New Kids on the Block, Take That, Five, LFO, or O-Town didn’t just form at random or spring from the tip of a magic wand. Make no mistake: Every successful boy band consisted of hand-picked members with diverse qualities, and this was done to appeal to a wide range of young girls’ tastes.

In other words, boy band members intentionally balanced each other out. They preached teamwork, combined their talents, and got the job done just like all effective groups of people tend to do. How can the boy band formula be applied to the workplace? Take note!

First and foremost, I’ll reveal the 5-part boy band formula.

You can group each of the aforementioned bands’ members into the following categories:

The bad boy (Example: AJ McLean of BSB) — It didn’t take much to qualify as a bad boy where pop bands were concerned; I’m pretty sure all it took was a handful of tattoos or piercings, a devil-may-care attitude, and maybe an offbeat hairstyle. But regardless, every group had a bad boy and they added a hint of complexity to the group.

The sensitive boy-next-door (Example: Lance Bass of ‘N Sync) — There was always a member who could make your heart melt by saying nothing at all, and that was part of his charm. He rarely said anything bad about anyone else, didn’t complain, and would win the award for “member I’d most like to hang out with.”

The leader and heartthrob (Examples: Justin Timberlake of ‘N Sync or Nick Carter of BSB) — We’re all familiar with heartthrobs. All they had to do was open their mouths or walk onstage and the crowd would go wild. With a combination of good looks, a gleaming smile, and a good head on the shoulders, these guys had everything it took to lead the rest of the group to success.

The joker (Example: Joey Fatone of ‘N Sync) — Every group had a fun-loving guy who cracked jokes and played an occasional prank on other members. That’s not to say he never got down to business, but rather that he liked to enjoy the lighter side of things.

The older brother type (Example: Kevin Richardson of BSB) — How could we forget about the slightly older band member who looked out for everyone else? The older brother type wasn’t the most popular guy in the group, but he was responsible and kind-hearted.

If we re-tool them a little bit, the above categories apply to the workplace pretty well:

The indifferent oneYou’ll be able to identify this employee by their attitude toward work and extracurricular events. You’ll often hear them say things like, “I don’t get paid enough for that” or “That’s really not my job,” and they’re likely to be no-shows at after-work drinks or holiday events. They may even sass the boss.

How to deal with this personality type: Listen to their work concerns but don’t get wrapped up in the hype to the point that your own work suffers. Also, it’s best to distance yourself from them if extreme behavior results.

If this type sounds like you: Cut back on the trash talk, make an effort to improve in lacking areas, and don’t go overboard. A tinge of apathy can be charming, but a heaping helping of it makes you seem like an ungrateful, uncooperative jerk.

The down-to-earth oneThe grounded employee follows orders with few complaints, exhibits a generally positive attitude, and gets along with almost everyone in the office. They can be introverts or extroverts, but they’re not always the best at standing up for themselves when it’s needed; at times, they’re overshadowed by more aggressive types.

How to deal with this personality type: Provide positive encouragement when it’s appropriate (they thrive on feedback). Also, collaborate on projects with them whenever possible. They frequently have innovative ideas but tend to sit on them until they’re flushed out into the open.

If this sounds like you: Don’t bury your ideas or suppress your creativity. Also be on the lookout for co-workers who may take advantage of your versatility and cooperation; it’s one thing to assist someone with a project and quite another to get sweet talked into doing all of the work.

Cute boys + puppies = teen bliss.

The fearless leaderLeaders do what needs to be done, even if that means making a tough call for the greater good. They delegate tasks, guide others when needed, and often pick up extra tasks themselves.

How to deal with this personality type: Step out of a leader’s shadow and you’ll be able to voice your opinions a little clearer. Remember, sometimes leaders get the lion’s share of the credit just because they’re the most vocal.

If this sounds like you: Watch your attitude when you delegate. There’s a fine line between a leader and a tyrant, and you don’t want to cross that.

The joker and/or pranksterIt’s not that jokers don’t care about being serious…it’s that they’re compelled to lighten the mood. They’re fluent in sarcasm and well-versed in antagonizing, but also generally good-natured instead of malicious. Like down-to-earth employees, jokers tend to get along with just about anyone.

How to deal with this personality type: If they start to get too off-track, then make like a leader and steer them back. Otherwise, you could have a goof-off problem on your hands.

If this sounds like you: Be careful with your jokes (offensive humor can lead to disciplinary action) and make sure you don’t make a joke of your job. You need a good balance of humor and seriousness unless you want a reputation as some kind of office jester.

Backstreet's back, alright!

The experienced and responsible oneExperienced employees are the ones who have been around the block a few times and know the ins and outs of the company. They train new employees and help leaders/managers implement new strategies.

How to deal with this personality type: It’s all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Treat these co-workers well and don’t undermine their authority unless you have a good reason.

If this sounds like you: Don’t be haughty about the years you’ve spent at a company — that’s an instant eye roller. Also, watch your tone when addressing (or training) new staff. Condescending tones aren’t highly favored in the workplace.

You’ll always work with people who are on different wavelengths. The trick is to adapt so you can effectively communicate and balance your personality types. Just like boy bands learned to work together, you can do the same in your work environment if you know how. It may sound crazy, but it ain’t no lie (bye, bye, bye).

Just for fun, here’s one of my favorite ‘N Sync videos. Enjoy!

Do you remember any of these bands? Which boy band was your favorite? And which teamwork strategies would you use to bring a diverse group together?

Image credit to ‘NSync on Facebook and BSB on Facebook.


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  1. Eric

    Fun post, Jill. No idea where I’d fall in when it comes to all these, but I definitely think we could fill all the roles between all y’all here at QLP!

    • Jill Tooley

      Thanks, Eric! I think you’d be a hearty mix of the down-to-earth and joker types, with a pinch of Don Draper’s passion thrown in. After all, why not? πŸ™‚

  2. Bret Bonnet

    Ian is SO the Lance Bass of β€˜N Sync of QLP.

    … I’m sad to admit it, but my VERY first concert was β€˜N Sync at Solider Field. My g/f at the time had won the tickets, and I have to admit, they put on one hell of a show!

    • Jill Tooley

      Wow, Bret! I never knew that about you! I’m NOT sad to admit that I saw ‘N Sync in concert 5 times while they were together. They certainly put on quite a show, although my eardrums hurt afterwards from all of the girls’ screams…

    • Mandy Kilinskis

      I was totally at that concert!

  3. Mikey

    I’ll have to admit, I was never really into any of the boy bands; personally more of a metal head than a pop fan. However, I was in high school when these guys were big, so it was kinda impossible to not be bombarded with them. Didn’t hate them; just not my cup of tea. That being said, I liked your article. It was fun and gave some good advice on how to manage an office team. And you definitely showed that you know your stuff when it comes to boy bands. Thanks for the great post!

    • Jill Tooley


      No, not really! I completely understand your aversion to them. Their music didn’t exactly speak to high school boys…but being a high school girl at the time, it all fit perfectly for yours truly. And I do appreciate that you didn’t bash them and just said it “wasn’t your cup of tea” instead. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the compliments! I take weird pride in my useless boy band knowledge, but I didn’t think it would come in handy in the “real world” after they all sort of fell off the radar. Take that, world!

  4. Cybernetic SAM

    There are no words… Although I must say you should have pointed out a successful marketing tip from N’Sync that you missed above. You can market anything successfully if you add Puppies to the mix. Haha this was hilarious! Great post!

    • Jill Tooley

      Thanks! I did make a snide comment about that in the alternate text for that puppy pic…just hover over it. πŸ™‚

      Side note, I could probably write an entire post just about ‘N Sync marketing! Maybe I’ll save that gem for later?

  5. Amy Swanson

    That music video is so awesome, thanks for including it!! I had completely forgotten about their synchronized dance moves- oh my God, it’s soooo good!

    Your descriptions for each personality type is dead-on. I also really liked that you gave a “If this sounds like you” section with some kick-ass advice. Thank you!

    Sidenote: Our very own Joe Giorgi looks eerily like Kevin from BSB in this blog post. Can anyone else see it or am I just crazy?

    • Jill Tooley

      You’re so welcome! “Pop” is one of my favorites of all time. There’s just something about it. Looking back, those choreographed moves were so corny at times, but man did I eat it up as a teenager!

      Thanks so much! I wanted to include a tidbit for each one that tied everything into reality, but I was kind of afraid it didn’t make sense. So you just made me breathe a sigh of relief. πŸ™‚

      Haha, Joe does kind of look like Kevin in that pic! Not in real life, though, because DAMN…Kevin is a creepy dude.

  6. Myrtle

    N’Sync = <3

  7. Mandy Kilinskis

    NSync is definitely my favorite boy band, so I certainly appreciate any post that mentions them. Great job breaking down the boy band model and applying it to companies!

    I have to parrot Amy and say that the “if this sounds like you” section. Definitely good advice for improving yourself and your work place.

    I also wonder if current boy bands (like One Direction and The Wanted) follow the same model. Anyone know?

    • Jill Tooley

      My pleasure, Mandy! Thanks for your feedback. I’m glad you liked the “if this sounds like you” section, because I actually added that as an afterthought. πŸ™‚

      I know next to nothing about One Direction (other than the “Beautiful” parodies that are all over the place), and I have no clue what The Wanted is…so I can’t offer any help there. I would assume they follow the same formula, though.

      P.S. A quick Google search for both bands made me feel creepy — none of the members look older than 16! Yikes…

  8. Your Old Friend Lauren

    Jill, this is such a GREAT idea for a blog! I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it! N*Sync was also my favorite! (And just for the record, Ian is nothing like Lance Bass… Sorry Ian, you could only aspire to be him). But the best part of my ride home is my new radio station (101.1) which plays a decent amount of boy band music! So next time you’re looking for a great afternoon ride home from work, check it out and you might find yourself singing “bye, bye, bye”! πŸ™‚

    Keep the GREAT blogs coming along! πŸ™‚

    • Jill Tooley

      LAUREN M.! How nice to hear from you! πŸ˜€

      Thanks a lot for not only reading my blog but also for leaving me a sweet comment. I totally agree about the Lance/Ian thing — Lance was my favorite back in the day and I’d still throw down to protect his honor (haha)!

      101.1 is pretty much the best. I love randomly tuning in and hearing songs I haven’t heard in 10 years or more…

      Come back anytime. We’d love to have more of you in the comments section!!

  9. Rachel

    I would just like to thank you for all the pretty ‘N Sync and BSB pictures. Especially the one of the ‘N Sync boys holding puppies. PUPPIES. More proof why ‘N Sync was clearly the best boy band of the era. πŸ™‚ And what a fun idea for a post! Thanks for bringing back the memories AND providing some business insight. πŸ™‚

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