Tetris and Workplace Management: Fitting Your Employees Together, Part 1

Tetris is one of the most recognized and loved games in the world. Translated into more than fifty languages and available on more than thirty gaming platforms, Tetris has evolved over the years to keep pace with technology while still relying on the same successful basic gameplay.

Although there is evidence to support the theory that playing Tetris actually makes you smarter, it has also been the target of hatred for employers. Tetris has distracted otherwise dedicated workers for hours on end as a productivity killer that rivals only Solitaire and Minesweeper.

To make up for these lost hours, we’d love to offer a way for you put that Tetris knowledge to good use. Each of the seven Tetraminoes (think “dominoes” or you’ll drive yourself insane trying to figure out how to pronounce it) reflects an employee personality type. If you want to know how your employees fit together, read on!

JLThe J/L Pieces

J/L pieces have a firm foundation but are constantly reaching above and beyond. They’re familiar with the expectations of their job but need to spice things up in order to stay motivated. They do well at completing familiar tasks, but they also enjoy expanding beyond the routine. Whether it’s looking for a more efficient way to complete a project or changing a task to meet needs more effectively, they thrive on change. They tend to take charge on their own and don’t always check in to make sure they stay within their job description.

J/L pieces get along with everyone in the office and enjoy socializing. Their outgoing nature leads them to talk about their ambition, which may make coworkers uncomfortable if they are too critical.

Teamwork may be difficult for J/L pieces who enjoy completing tasks independently and tend to have difficulty collaborating with those who disagree. J/L pieces may benefit from training others: this provides them an opportunity to come up with creative ways to teach others to do a familiar task. Specific feedback is important for J/L pieces, who may think they’re helping when they’re actually trodding on others’ toes.

TThe T Piece

The T piece is frequently the most flexible employee in the office… and often the least appreciated. Employers and coworkers tend to take the T piece for granted, because she learns quickly and makes new tasks look effortless. This can often lead to low morale and lack of motivation to excel in her own job.

The T piece has difficulty expressing her opinions and may not feel like part of the team. She’ll benefit from being asked directly for her opinion, especially before others have expressed theirs. She adapts well to change and makes immediate modifications based on constructive criticism.

Small group projects are the perfect setting for the T piece to thrive. She also responds well to positive reinforcement for her contributions to let her know that her efforts are being acknowledged. A T piece sets a great example for other employees.

Do you have J/L or T pieces in your office? What ways have you discovered for helping them fit with the rest of the staff? Do you recognize yourself in one of these descriptions? Sound off in the comments below!

Want more? Be sure to check out part two of this Tetris series.

Until next time, keep expanding your brand!


Jana Quinn

An old ‘G’ that’s been working for QLP since it was in Bret’s basement – Jana has been writing since she made up a story about a Jana-Tiger that liked rocky road ice cream and got straight A’s. She enjoys writing about marketing and pop culture, posting a ‘Die Hard’ article as often as she’s allowed. She is inspired by the articles at Cracked and frequently wears a Snuggie in the office. You can also connect with Jana on Google+.


  1. cyberneticSAM

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! Tetris is my game!!!! Great analogy! It is funny in high school, due to boredom I used to stare at the brick walls and try and turn them into tetris pieces, just for amusement.

    • Jana Quinn

      You need to have lunch with Amanda and me sometime. We are Tetris FIENDS.

      You’ll like this:

      • cyberneticSAM

        Awesome. That is amazing, I would have sooo much fun retiling my bathroom, I wish everything in life could be a Tetris game. I should start a Tetris-tiling business! Talk about the sweet life!

  2. Bret Bonnet

    Killer idea for a post!

    … I don’t think they make a tetris game piece BIG enough to represent me.

    Can I be the entire game board?!?!?


  3. Scooby DOO!

    A sales role, especially in this line of business, is like a high stakes version of Tetris on level 9. That is, you are always jumping from task to task, organizing, shifting, and processing orders as efficiently as humanly as possible. Successful sales people can react to any situation quickly and move on to the next falling block without falling behind.

    Great article Jana!

    • Jana Quinn

      I really like the way you made the gameplay into a business analogy as well. We could go into what happens when you accidentally cover an open space (missed opportunity) and when you hold something open too long, expecting a certain piece, and you end up screwing yourself over (working with what you HAVE, not what you WANT).

      We may have another Tetris post on our hands sometime soon…

  4. Joseph Giorgi

    Very clever post! These descriptions definitely seem accurate. I’m not sure that I belong to either of the categories listed above, so I’m anxious to see if Part 2 applies to me. 🙂

  5. JPorretto

    This is spot on! I’m positive I’m a J/L piece, more or less. I can’t wait to see what you come up with for the straight piece! Nice work again Jana!

    • Jana Quinn

      I started typing out my own personality for J/L and I ended up dividing it with S/Z because a) I didn’t want to get too specific and b) there’s no top on the J.

  6. Jill Tooley

    Hmmmm…certain parts of both of these seem like me, so it’s a tough call! Perhaps your sequel post will hold a more accurate piece for my personality.

    I love that you’ve thought of personalities and traits for each piece. How did you come up with them? Did you psychoanalyze each one?

    What a fun Friday read! Strong work. 🙂

  7. Amanda Sneed

    Agreed Jill–I’m also a mix of these two pieces! When playing Tetris however, the T piece is the piece I like to use best!

    I love Tetris–so I’m super excited to read this blog on it! I love that games like Tetris can stay relevant for so long. It’s a classic for sure! Go Tetris go! 😉

  8. Kyle

    I gotta go with the J/L piece for myself… Minus the whole being super social aspect. I admit I’m on the slightly shy side, but I definitely have a solid foundation and I’m always looking for new challenges.

    Darn you, Jana. Now you got me thinking about Tetris and how it can compare to just about anything in life. I keep having flashbacks of the Simpsons episode where Homer packs the car for a trip by arranging luggage and even his family into Tetris shapes! Classic. =P

  9. Amanda Sneed

    Excellent post Jana! =)

  10. Sherryl Perry

    What a fun and clever way to think of employees fitting into your organization! It reminds me of a situation about 20 years ago when I inherited a department with one very frustrated employee. She was the creative type and was working doing pretty much all data entry and customer service. She hated her job. Somehow, my department was assigned the task of creating the organization’s website. (This was because we were in charge of the computers. It was obviously a task that should have been assigned to our marketing department if we had one.) You guessed it . . . I assigned the task to the disgruntled employee. She loved it. My boss got his website and everyone was happy.

    • Jana Quinn

      What a fantastic example! You were able to recognize her frustration, identify her strengths, and redirect her negative energy.

      Had she ever expressed any desire to change departments or include more creative tasks into her daily schedule? Sometimes it’s hard when an employee is quietly fuming; you don’t want to pry into someone’s personal life (or poke a sleeping dragon), but that negative energy can be very infectious.

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