While nearly any personality assessment can provide value for understanding self and others, I find the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) to be particularly helpful for teams. Here’s why: the core of the theory is how we each prefer to take in information and make decisions about that information, which are two daily, essential activities on teams. Because of how much it stands to help, facilitating these sessions is one of my all-time favorite activities. In the span of just a couple short hours, I have the privilege of watching “lightbulb” moments in which participants realize what their unique contributions are to the team, how to leverage different strengths from other team members, and even realize what can be aggravating sometimes about their colleagues (or family!). We have friendly competition, “ah-ha” moments, and frankly, just a lot of fun. Below, I’ve listed some of the key values this assessment has provided for the teams I’ve worked with recently:
- Valuing an individual’s unique contributions
Toward the end of a recent workshop I was facilitating, the team realized that only one of their members preferred “Feeling” (F) on the Thinking-Feeling preference. It was in this moment that compliments started arising, such as “we need them to be the culture person” and “we go to them if we need to have a difficult conversation with an employee.” Inevitably, as we learn more about each other on a team through the lens of personality type, we find language to put on the ways we value that team member and show appreciation for having them on the team. It’s especially potent when someone recognizes they are unique on the team and realize how much their perspective truly is needed.
2. Leveraging the opposite preference to avoid “group think”
Teams can often have similar type distributions for several reasons, one being that the job itself can attract a certain kind of personality. For example, some jobs require more flexibility or more detail orientation, more or less interaction with other people, etc. In these cases, a wonderful discussion arises in our sessions about how people of similar personality types make decisions more quickly and more easily because they think alike, and that the opportunity lies in considering the other preference (especially when gathering information and making decisions about it – those core components of the MBTI I referred to earlier). This could be as simple as asking someone whom we know has the opposite preference for their thoughts – or thinking about what someone with that preference would say if such a person is not immediately around – and then weighing both sides before coming to a conclusion.
3. “So THAT’s why they annoy me!”
We are the same human being with the same personality type whether we are at work or at home, and these dynamics are at play with every other human we interact with. One of my favorite moments from a recent workshop was when a participant suddenly realized why he struggled with his wife’s style as they went on vacations together. The last preference pair (J and P), really brings this dynamic out in people of opposite preferences when working on a project or planning a trip together. One person would book the trip two months in advance, have the laundry done a week in advance, and on the day of the trip, only pack what couldn’t be packed the day before. The other would keep options open as long as possible, packing everything the morning of the trip, creating a lot of stress for the spouse who preferred to plan ahead. When we look deeper, we realize that we need each other – one to have a structured plan with contingencies just in case, and the other to remind us to live in the moment and enjoy the process. It’s no surprise, then, that the natural distribution in the general population is roughly half for each preference.
These are just a few examples of the conversations teams have had around this assessment and the value of applying it to their everyday work. Would you like to leverage the value of Myers-Briggs to help your team meet its goals this year? We’d love to learn more about you and how we could help. Let’s chat!