A couple weeks ago we published Part I of our “People First, Professionals Second” blog series, which explained why it is of upmost importance to emphasize individual differences we each hold in our cognitive processes in order to reach full potential as a professional organization. Part II, from last week, addressed the next question that needed answering; how are we to identify these personality traits and patterns in our subordinates, coworkers, overheads, as well as ourselves? There are many assessments currently in existence that are used to measure a potential, or current, employee’s personality, one of the most common being the topic of discussion for this week: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).
What Is the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator?
The MBTI is a test originating from the 1900’s during the World War II era. Two women, a mother and daughter duo, were deeply invested in researching and studying Carl Jung’s theory revolving around personality types. This research led them to develop an assessment that could measure a person’s psychological preferences, and further reveal their ideal occupation and overall life status as a result of their candid answers. This test is highly accurate when performed correctly; however, its results completely rely upon the participant’s level of self-awareness as well as their willingness to admit their true self within their answers.
How Does It Work?
The MBTI measures individuals across four different scales, resulting in an assignment of one out of the sixteen possible personality types. Let’s begin with the four different scales of which construct the sixteen types:
- Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I)
- E – Extroverts tend to reenergize themselves through outer stimulation via social situations or events. They are generally highly vocal with their thoughts and opinions and enjoy getting to know others on a personal level. In the workplace, they tend to be loud and interactive. They seek out friendships with their coworkers and work well with others, or on a team. They can easily connect with clients in a way that makes them feel welcome and secure and are seen as the “social butterflies” of the office. High E’s can, however, struggle in the workplace when it comes to setting up emotional and personal boundaries and can overpower more reserved clients or coworkers. They can also easily get distracted, or easily distract others.
- I – Introverts tend to reenergize themselves through inner stimulation via seclusion or time spent alone. They are generally less vocal when it comes to their thoughts and opinions, however, this does not reflect their ability to have strong beliefs and opinions on any given subject matter. In the workplace, they tend to be quieter and keep to themselves. They tend to focus on their work and enjoy working alone, not liking to be interrupted by noise or other people. They do not go out of their way to form friendships or personal bonds with their coworkers or clients, however, their human nature allows certain connections to form overtime. They are highly concentrated and are not easily distracted by outer circumstances. High I’s can come across as rude or prideful to others and can even be a roadblock to connecting with a client who has friendly intentions.
- Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N)
- S – High S’s tend to process information they are given through what they know to be factually reliable. They measure information against facts and reason through their 5 senses that have proven themselves to be reliable time and time again. They tend to be more realistic and focused on whatever information they can see and understand on a practical level. In the workplace, they are generally extrinsically motivated. This means that they are capable of tackling any task, as they are focused on the results the work will bring them rather than the work itself. They tend to flourish in detail-oriented tasks with straight forward purposes. High S’s can get easily stressed or fall into a pattern of overthinking when the facts don’t line up or something does not go how they predicted. This high level of stress can lead to burnout or other such unwanted circumstances.
- N – High N’s tend to process information they are given through what they think to be true based on their own feelings, impressions and cognitive patterns. They measure information based on possibilities and abstract thinking through underlying patterns recognized in the information they are processing. They tend to be more idealistic and focused on theoretical thought patterns. In the workplace, they are generally more intrinsically motivated. This means that they find meaning in their work, and would be less efficient if asked to perform a task they find no meaning or purpose in. They tend to flourish in creative thinking positions, where they are given space to practice their thoughts and ideas in a tangible manner. High N’s can get distracted by being lost in thought or not being satisfied or challenged intellectually.
- Thinking (T) vs. Feeling (F)
- T – Thinkers make their decisions with their head. They are driven by their thoughts and critically assess situations based on logic and truth. They are highly rational when it comes to any form of decision making and are hyper-focused on the facts. They tend to value their own opinion over others and are, therefore, not emotionally invested in others’ remarks or opinions. In the workplace, thinkers care about doing things the right way no matter what. They tend to appreciate their coworkers for the jobs they hold, not the people that they are outside of the workplace. They find their purpose in being rational and fair in all situations. They value the truth above all else and do not appreciate sugar-coating information, (so do not expect them to be anything less than brutally honest). They tend to be skilled at understanding their own cognitive processes as they have followed the same pattern for a solid length of time. This fact makes them dependable, and their behavior predictable. Thinkers can, however, come across as impersonal and judgmental. Their desire to pursue factual truths can make them stubborn and close minded as they assume that they are always right.
- F – Feelers make their decisions with their heart. They are driven by their emotions and lean on their empathy to assess situations. They make judgements by tapping into their feelings, and value relationships above all else. They tend to take remarks more personally which can be a positive and a negative, depending on whether the remark is encouraging or not. In the workplace, feelers are highly passionate about what they do and who they are working with. They address people on a personal level and appreciate people for who they are not what they do. They are highly sensitive to their coworkers’ feelings and connect on a deeply emotional level. They are great at connecting with clients and forming relationships with business partners along the way. Their focus on building relationships makes them a strong asset for your organization. On the other hand, Feelers can struggle with drawing emotional boundaries, and not overcommitting their emotions to an issue that is not of their concern. They can also become distracted from their job by what they value as more important – people. They also grow emotionally attached to ideas or concepts and can develop hurt feelings over accountability. Their open-mindedness can make decision making more difficult, and lead to overthinking.
- Judging (J) vs. Perceiving (P)
- J – Judgers tend to plan out their immediate actions consecutively and precisely. They value order and predictability and try to keep stability as their lifestyle of choice. They appreciate structure and want to plan out their course of action before acting upon it. In the workplace, they want to complete an entire job task before ever starting another. They enjoy being given measurable goals that they can reach and complete, rather than just being given meaningless tasks. They like being given detailed structure when it comes to projects and are highly organized individuals. They tend to be highly responsible and are good at being self-accountable. Judgers can tend to be inflexible at times and are not known for their adapting skills. They can get stressed when something goes not according to plan or when those around them choose to not follow the plan.
- P – Perceivers tend to not plan and attempt to “go with the flow” as much as possible. They value spontaneity and try to live a life of open-mindedness and respect for all possible options. They appreciate flexibility and prefer to act now and think later. In the workplace, they enjoy having their options open. They do not enjoy working in an overly structured environment as they want to have the freedom to follow their creative thinking wherever it may take them. They are generally very flexible and work well with changing deadlines or ideas. Perceivers do have a tendency to procrastinate as they are the more relaxed group of the office. They also tend to start projects and not complete them before starting another. This can lead to inorganization and forgotten tasks. They tend to overmix work and play, and sometimes struggle finding a balance of having fun with getting the job done.
It is important to note that these personality traits are not set in stone –the vast majority of people hold traits from both categories in all four sectors. The test is not meant to put you into a box and say that you only hold these traits, however, the test is meant to reveal what your tendencies are at your core. The MBTI seeks to pinpoint who you are at a deep level, meaning, your letters might not reflect who you want to be but who you are. A good way to measure this is to consider your personality under pressure or in emergency situations – these are circumstances that tend to bring out your true self. This is a concept that needs to be understood in order the MBTI to work at its full potential. Since this test is so popular, there are many stereotypes that come along with it. For example, many people think that introverts are always quiet, and extroverts are always talking. Some consider thinkers to have no compassion for others and feelers to be incapable of being logical. These confusions should not be considered fact, and I encourage you to keep an open mind when evaluating your/others’ results.
How Can I Use It in My Workplace?
Since this style of personality assessment is so very common in the workplace hiring process, many of you have probably taken it before. I would assume that there are many people who were assigned a 4-letter personality type at one point or another in their life, and it was never explained to them what these letters meant and why they were important. Often times, this test and its following results are taken for granted and not valued as the roadmap to our brains that they are. In saying that, allow me to take the time to explain to you why these letters are so important, and how you can use them to make the most of the position you currently hold, or further pursue the position you wish to hold, within your organization.
Each person’s MBTI score reflects their psychological preferences – or how they “tick”. A key component of the original MBTI test is the recognition and appreciation of the innate human desire to grow and flourish as individuals. In studying your results, you will be able to learn more about yourself and subconsciously awaken the desire to grow and further develop yourself as an individual. Not only will you be able to better recognize your strengths, but you will also be made aware of the areas of your personality that may require further development or attention. Outside of your own personality and process of growth, you will be prepared to recognize these same psychological tendencies in others around you. This allows you to develop a sense of awareness of those around you and how to use your own personality to connect with others. Holding a sense of self-awareness and transparency in the workplace allows you to form stronger relationships and encourages others around you to be more open as well. Not only will you be able to connect with those whom you work with based on your similarities, but you can even learn to bond over your differences – this is a sign of a relationally healthy office. Once you get to the point of understanding with one another, many workplace issues are solved. The overall culture of the office will change and conflicts will be resolved in a healthy manner, efficiency will rise, stress levels will decrease, communication pathways will open, diversity will be encouraged, relationships will strengthen, and people will be encouraged to play to their strengths while developing their weaknesses.
Reiterating from last week, understanding one’s own personality as well as those whom one works with is essential to the success of any organization. The MBTI is an extremely common way to assess someone’s personality type and although it is very popular, the results are not often studied to the extent that they should be. Your personality type will never be an exact science, nor will you ever find a type that you believe perfectly defines how your brain works 100% of the time; however, being able to find a personality type that reflects who you are at the core of your being, can reveal a lot about how who you are and better assist you in this thing we call life. Taking the time to study your results can truly assist you in gaining a deeper understanding of yourself and your cognitive process and abilities. This can help you at work, in school, in relationships, and in any aspect of your life that requires you to behave in a particular manner. Not only can you learn more about yourself through this test, but you can learn more about those whom you interact with by studying the other 15 types that are not your own.
If you have never been assessed using the MBTI model, or you have and simply wish to retest, we encourage you to go take this test:
This is a free, condensed version of the MBTI and is the one often used by businesses when hiring. In fact, Wren Insurance Agency uses this exact test before hiring anyone in order to assess what personality type that individual holds. This website not only provides you with the assessment itself, but it also explains in detail what your results mean and why they are important. It explains your predicted weaknesses, strengths, ideal career paths, workplace habits, and relationship behaviors all based upon your 4-letter type.
Here at Wren, we believe that everyone in the office has been uniquely created and we aim to embrace these differences in order to strengthen our agency and better ourselves both individually and corporately. Understanding each other for who we are allows us to form stronger internal relationships, placing us in a position to confidently pursue external relationships. Hence, we have everyone’s 4-letter personality type hanging up in our office for everyone to see. Our personality types are often a topic of discussion amongst us as we discuss which parts of our results we agree with, which parts we disagree with, what surprised us about our results, what was expected, (etc). These discussions only further encourage our value of transparency and valuing each other, and our clients, for who they truly are. No matter who we are speaking to or with, they are people first.