Are You a Doer or a Demander?

Dana Sheehan/ Professional Development

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, my office was busy. We were scrambling to arrange services for a plane full of people who had survived the natural disaster. These were people who lost everything, and were being routed to Pittsburgh. Many of them would stay and start their lives over in the Steel City. Talk about pressure.

My True Story About Working with Doers and Demanders

At the time I was working in government-run human services, in the communications department. We were the planners – the ones who organized events – so this fell right into our laps. Our charge was to organize the Welcome Center that would process the residents from New Orleans, essentially registering them and arranging for any services they needed. The top priority was housing and healthcare, but mental health services, enrolling kids into school, and helping people get groceries some of the lengthy list of needs.

In the days that followed Katrina, one of my former coworkers – let’s call her Bonnie* – sat at her desk in her cubicle and sobbed as she scrolled through images from the New Orleans aftermath on her computer. Through her tears, she declared, “Someone needs to do something. These people need help!” Her compassion was on display for everyone as she sat in the middle of Cube Land in an open space visible by all. Until exactly 4 o’clock, when her eyes dried up, she grabbed her purse, and went home.

While Bonnie was putting on a display for anyone who cared to watch, another of my former coworkers, Eddie*, was at her desk, splitting her time between making phone calls and answering emails as she reached out to organizations throughout the area to make arrangements for our guests. Well past 4 o’clock, she was still in motion. She worked so hard over those few days, and the event went off very well, and about 250 people were assisted.

Bonnie is a Demander. She demands a better title, a higher salary, more desirable job duties, for you to align your views with hers. When asked to do something, she makes a fuss. Everyone knows The Demander wants everyone to know she is a Human Services Rock Star. She cares deeply about how she is perceived.

Eddie is a Doer. She gets things done. She doesn’t panic when there’s a task at hand. She asks for more responsibility because she loves a challenge. She doesn’t care if other people think she’s a Human Services Rock Star – she knows she is, and she proves it every day.

Eddie is secure in her skills and in herself. She doesn’t need to go out of her way to prove herself. Bonnie is extremely insecure in her skills. She knows she doesn’t have them, and is terrified that everyone will find out.

Are You a Doer or a Demander?

Think about it. Obviously, we all think we’re a Doer, but are you really? Really, really? Mentally go through your day today. How many times did you talk about what you are doing? I don’t mean talking to someone in order to do your job, I mean talking about talking to someone to do your job. How many things did you cross off of your to do list? How many people did you help today?


  • Ask how they can help.
  • Say, “That’s not my job, but…” and help that person get to the right person.
  • Cross things off their to do list
  • Discover problems and come up with solutions.
  • Brag about their coworkers.
  • Don’t like being interrupted because they are in the middle of a project and are on a rule.
  • Ask for a raise and find a better place when it’s clear they’re not being appreciated.
  • Are eager to hear all about your latest problems so they can help you find a solution.
  • Continue their education by reading and learning.


  • Ask how you can help them.
  • Say, “That’s not my job,” even though it usually is.
  • Don’t have a to do list.
  • Discover problems and don’t do anything about them, because it’s not their problem.
  • Brag about themselves.
  • Don’t like being interrupted because they are in the middle of updating Facebook.
  • Demand a raise and threaten to leave if they don’t get one. But they never leave.
  • Are eager to hear all about your latest problem so they know you weaknesses better.
  • Don’t need to continue their education because they already know everything.

Do You Work with Doers or Demanders?

What about the people around you? You can tell how toxic your workplace is by how Doers and Demanders are treated. In a toxic work environment, Demanders are rewarded with promotions and raises, while Doers are rewarded with more work – which the Demander usually takes credit for.

About a year after Katrina, Eddie moved on to a different job. She had been essentially worked out of the place. She had completed her master’s degree, had proven again and again how great she was at her job. She wasn’t appreciated, so she found a place where she was. Bonnie was promoted. She became a supervisor and was given a raise. She kept her cubicle in the middle of the office, for it had a much better vantage point than an office with a door.

In the spirit of full transparency, I had little to do with this helping Hurricane Katrina survivors. I supported my coworkers as best I could. They are responsible for making the transition to Pittsburgh as easy as possible, and I am still impressed with their efforts.

*not their real names

Image Credit: Leeroy, downloaded from

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