A Big 4 is a melting pot of characters. Each staff room is itself a microcosm of society. We're talking purely about personality styles or traits, going beyond the categorizations of race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexual orientation, political views, language, culture, and any other "box" to check.
In this article, we look at the typical characters you can encounter while working in a Big 4. We also provide our survival tips on how best to approach and manage each of them.
Some of you may identify yourselves or others with one or more of the characters listed below, and that is absolutely normal: in the end, we are all different personality traits mixed into one. Be sure to let us know whether we have left anyone out!
1. The Resourceful
S/he is the 007 of Big 4s. S/he can give you any password you need. S/he has access, contacts, timesavers and add-ins.
Survival tip: do whatever it takes to befriend this character; you will save enormous amounts of time.
2. The Relative
S/he is related to either a partner or an important client. Whether s/he is any good is irrelevant: s/he will be onboarded as a favor and in exchange for something (projects, mainly).
Survival tip: always be nice to this character; s/he has a direct line to the partner.
3. The Party Planner
S/he is always ready to grab a drink, any day of the week. S/he will make the restaurant reservation after conducting a quick survey around the staff room. S/he will be in charge of collecting money for the purchase of gifts.
Survival tip: if your staff room is missing this character, you're in the wrong staff room.
4. The Delegator
S/he does absolutely no manual labor. S/he will generously donate all of his/her work to literally anyone who will give him/her the slightest attention. There are 2 kinds of delegators:
one will leave at 6 pm, no matter what;
the other will spend the day at Starbucks and the night on Teams, making you share your screen to observe your work.
Survival tip: have a list of excuses ready to reject any and all requests coming from this character.
5. The Lost Soul
S/he has lost all faith in humanity. S/he has no personal life and can be found at the office on weekends. S/he is happy to work with other team members during the holidays. S/he will never become partner, but suffers from Stockholm Syndrome and will stay on forever.
Survival tip: do a good deed and donate 1 hour of your time now and then to hear this character out (just don't do it too often, or s/he'll drag you down too!).
6. The Specialist
S/he is the expert in her/his field, the go-to person for a specific subject matter, be it Bloomberg functions, Excel formulae, football scores, or which are the best restaurants in the city.
Survival tip: you never know when this character will be leaving the firm, so be sure to keep in touch, should you need her/his advice in the future.
7. The Idiot
S/he suffers from distorted self-perception. S/he knows absolutely nothing about the work s/he does, yet believes to be the best in the team. S/he is a cocktail of arrogance and verbal incontinence.
Survival tip: never talk about anything personal with this character.
8. The Weekender
S/he lives for the weekend. S/he will spend Monday to Wednesday at noon to talk about the past weekend, and noon on Wednesday to Friday to talk about her/his plans for the upcoming weekend. S/he will be unavailable from Friday afternoon to Monday morning.
Survival tip 1: avoid running into this character on Wednesday at noon.
Survival tip 2: if you need their input, remember to get it by Friday morning at the latest.
9. The Misplaced Banker
S/he thinks s/he works in an investment bank. S/he will work until 3 am and expect you to do the same. S/he will mock those who leave the office at 8 pm. S/he is one of the least efficient employees, spending hours chatting in front of the vending machines and complaining about the work load.
Survival tip: avoid this character like the plague.
10. The Gossip
S/he knows it all: the hook ups; the break ups; the pregnancies; the flirts; the affairs; the good, the bad and the ugly.
Survival tip: you definitely want to be on this character's friend list.
11. The Hottie
S/he brightens up the office. If s/he is also smart, s/he can conquer the world.
Survival tip: protect yourself from probable embarrassment, and never ever hit on this character.
12. The Poet
S/he is the most interesting character in the office. You will hear her/him utter memorable aphorisms and metaphors.
Survival tip: create an Excel database to keep track of this character's pearls of wisdom; they will hand you the biggest laughs later on.
We hope you enjoyed this article. Thanks for reading, and good luck!