The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is the hands-down, best-known assessment out there for understanding individual psychological tendencies. Counselors have been using it for well over half a century. The test is based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types.
People the world over know it as a great career assessment tool, something we all have needed (or at least have been fascinated about) at some point in our lives. The range of its applications is sometimes overlooked, however.
Differences in type (that four-letter identifying score that is the assessment result) can really illuminate — sometimes surprisingly so — the need for organizational and workplace changes.
Seeing how our psychological types influence the work we are drawn to is indeed just the beginning. Using the assessment as a tool in the workplace can be powerful, going a long way to establish not only harmony but good results.
Oh, it’s so traditional, you say? Just as the classic test itself is continually refined in modern editions, good counselors and coaches know there are innovative ways to apply and rethink it.
The MBTI four-letter identifier can be expounded upon and dissected. The total score depicts definite tendencies or preferences. As well, each individual letter represents significant theory.
Much information about effective working style can be gleaned from the MBTI. For instance:
- An intuitive type has clearest visions of what is around the bend. (When was the last time you coordinated a development team around this kind of information about an employee?)
- Extraverts develop their ideas through discussion. (If they’re among your employees, you had better not stick them in a cubicle and expect their ideas to take flight.)
- Got a fire that needs putting out? (Perhaps you are saying yes … every week.) Then why haven’t you found your Sensing folks, who are gratified to be put on immediate issues?
- Mutual respect among colleagues is something to foster no matter what — but pay special attention to those of the Thinking type, to whom fairness (and more) is so important.
It is critical to understand that Judging types want to plan their work and then follow that plan. If allowed to work in that manner, you will get B+ work from just a below-average employee of this type. At the other extreme, a Superstar effective workhorse of this type will be reduced to looking like a fool trying to jump through ridiculous new hoops thrown every day that an unknowing Supervisor thinks stimulating. (Getting a Judging type off-track from where they were about to get in a good groove and shine is not stimulating, but chaos-making, literally, in their mind.)
These are but a few examples that a good business coach or professional development specialist might point out if MBTI assessment results are used in team-building, organizational effectiveness and retention efforts. Just because it’s “been around” doesn’t make it passé. Only stale ways of looking at old challenges does.
Get to thinking about the personality types indicated by the Myers-Briggs. Get around to seeing if anyone in the office is interested in taking it. (On company time, that should be a breeze, and won’t eat into your bottom line.) Then get to thinking about how your workforce can apply it to your company’s satisfaction and success.
An explanation of the MBTI can be found here. This post’s author continues to use the MBTI among her coaching tools for individuals and business, 24 years after she first used it in her counseling.
Artwork (stained glass) courtesy of Jan Vojta.