Cash In On Your Human Capital: Using Personality Type To Optimize Your Team

Can you improve productivity, facilitate effective communication, and create a team that works like a well-oiled machine? You can if you learn how to recognize the resources that are already present in your organization. If you work in a large department, you almost certainly already have:

- A talented project manager

- A forward-thinking visionary

- A gifted public relations expert

- An infallible detail-watcher

- A critical analyst

Do you know who’s who? And more importantly, are you using their natural talents to their best advantage? Too often, organizations neglect to acknowledge their employee’s natural strengths-strengths that have nothing to do with education or experience. Your employees each have distinct personalities that make them naturally gifted in certain job environments, and frustrated and unproductive in others. To harness the power of your employee’s innate gifts, you must know what those gifts are!

Myers-Briggs Type at Work

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is the most widely used personality assessment in the world, and has been researched extensively in relation to success at work. It can help workers choose the job that’s best for them, but even more powerfully, it can help employers create an environment most conducive to their workers being productive and efficient. By identifying your employees as one of sixteen different types, you’ll see:

- How deadlines can be either a source of stress, or of inspiration

- Why privacy and quiet are as important to some employees as action and teamwork are to others

- Where your employees naturally turn their focus-the future or the present-and how you can put each perspective to good use

- What your employees’ priorities are when making a big decision, and how you can use differing perspectives to create positive and innovate solutions

Myers-Briggs and Teamwork

But that’s not all you can do with the Myers-Briggs. In fact, the most powerful application is improving communication throughout an entire team, as each member learns more about the different styles they’re working with and how they can better relate to their unique colleagues. Through learning about personality type, team members begin to understand that their differences don’t need to be a source of misunderstanding and frustration-they can be a source of strength. Team members that learn about their own type and their colleagues are able to:

- Create clear and positive communication

- Jumpstart effective cooperation

- Harness natural talent just waiting to be put to work

- Put their unique styles to work to create a versatile and powerful team

Applying the Myers-Briggs to YOUR Organization

The Myers-Briggs is widely available, including a convenient online format that allows your employees to take the assessment at their convenience, from any computer with internet access. Your employee then receives a detailed report that explains their type. Many different types of Myers-Briggs reports are available, and you can choose from the simplest to the most comprehensive according to your organization’s needs. You can even choose a report that analyzes the personality of your team as a whole!

Understanding Your Results

Once your team has completed the testing process, it’s time to put that information to work! Your first task is to understand the personality types. Each type is identified by four letters, indicative of four separate personality scales:

- Extroversion/Introversion: Do your employees get their energy from external sources (i.e. working with others) or internally (i.e. quiet individual work)?

- Sensing/Intuition: Are your employees more in tune with concrete facts and details, or possibilities, meaning, and the “big picture”?

- Thinking/Feeling: Do your employees place higher value on logic or values when making a decision?

- Judging/Perceiving: Would your employees prefer to work in a structured, scheduled environment, or one where they’re able to work spontaneously on a variety of projects?

The four scales are evaluated individually and combined to create the Type, for instance, ENTJ would signify Extroverted iNtuitive Thinking Judger.

Putting Your Team’s Results Together

You will likely have a wide variety of personality types on your team, so your next task is figure out how they work together! You may already have an idea about how differences have caused conflict (or inspiration!) on your team, but there are some common themes that arise in most workplaces that you should be aware of. Differences tend to play out in predictable ways when people of different types are joining forces:

- Extroverts and Introverts Working Together

When Extroverts and Introverts are on a team together, they will have different ideas about how best to get the work done. Introverts need frequent time alone to collect their thoughts, and appreciate a quiet space to work on individual projects. Extroverts need time with their colleagues to talk things out. They’ll be happiest and most productive if they work in an environment where they have easy access to colleagues to bounce ideas around. Having a balance of both types on a team will keep the team functioning most efficiently. The Extroverts on the team will help to motivate the team to meet and coordinate plans and goals; they can help articulate the company’s vision and ensure team members communicate with each other. The Introverts can help ensure that meetings stay efficient, and are often the employees an organization relies upon to complete important tasks independently and reliably. Although the structure of some organizations requires more of one work style than another, both styles make important contributions to an effective team.

- Sensors and Intuitives Working Together

Sensors and Intuitives often find themselves working on a team together, and because of their different ways of seeing the world, are able to complement each other to create a well-rounded work force for an organization. Intuitives are the visionaries for an organization; they see possibilities, long-range goals, and up-and-coming trends. They’ll ensure you’re in tune to your organization’s mission and keep you looking to the future. Sensors are talented at keeping your day-to-day functions running smoothly; they’ll be sure the deliveries are made on time, the appointments are confirmed, and the projector is in the conference room before your big presentation! It’s absolutely essential for any company to have both types on board; without vision, a company can get stuck in mundane detail and fail to grow and thrive; and without the detail-oriented, practical contribution of Sensors keeping things in order, a company can become disorganized and fail to get things done.

- Thinkers and Feelers Working Together

Thinkers and Feelers will prioritize differently when making a decision. Thinkers rely on logic, critical analysis, and cause-and-effect explanations when a choice is to be made. Feelers will consider their personal values, the feelings of the people involved, and their gut reaction to things when decision-making. The importance of Thinkers to an organization is fairly obvious-they can weigh the consequences of various choices and come to the most logical conclusion. In making financial and business decisions they are invaluable. However, Feelers are an undervalued but important asset to a team as well, because of their ability to tune into the emotions and personal issues that can interfere with team efficiency. They can help determine how corporate decisions will affect employee morale, for instance, or give insight into confli
cts that are keeping co-workers from cooperating effectively. A team that includes Thinkers and Feelers works best when both styles are utilized, allowing the team to come to a decision that takes both the logic and facts of the situation and the human element into account.

- Judgers and Perceivers Working Together

Type differences for Perceivers and Judgers come out most when planning and managing projects. Perceivers tend to like to complete tasks spontaneously, when the mood strikes, and are more satisfied by starting a new project than finishing an old one. Often they’ll save tasks for the last minute because they actually work better under pressure. Judgers like to plan and schedule, and work best when they know what they’ll be doing from one day to the next. Judgers get satisfaction when they see a project through to completion. When the two types work on a project together, these differences can cause irritation and conflict over how best to manage the workload. However, they can also be extremely useful when you use each person’s strengths. Perceivers are great at getting a project off the ground and responding to last-minute changes during the process. They’ll be challenged rather than frustrated when a project must suddenly take a new direction. Judgers are great at scheduling and keeping things on track. They can set realistic deadlines and watch progress to ensure tasks are completed on time.

Enlisting Your Team for Positive Change

It’s a great idea to have a meeting once everyone has their results, to discuss how to use the information you have about your strengths and weaknesses to create a more efficient and productive team. You’ll want to learn more about how your employees interpreted their results and what their results meant to them. You’ll also want to know if they discovered or reinforced any ideas about how they could be doing their job better. A few possible questions for discussion:

- Do you feel your results were accurate? What parts do you feel were most significant?

- How does your position use the strengths of your personality type? Are there strengths you have that are not being taken advantage of?

- Have you noticed difficulties in your work that are reflected in your personality type description? What adjustments could be made in your position to better accomodate your unique type?

- What differences in thinking have you noticed with various people on your team? Now that you have your results, can you see how differences in type affect your team when it comes to communication, project planning, or other functions?

- Do you see any type of thinking being preferred or priveleged when your team works together? Does one type dominate? Is this effective, or would the team work better if it took more perspectives into account?

- What are the areas where our team agrees on how to do things? What are the areas where we disagree?

- When our team disagrees on how to go about something, how can we use our differing perspectives to find the best solution?

A Powerful Tool for Organizational Change

Congratulations on your interest in improving the way your employees work! The human resources you have at your disposal are great and varied, and once you access the talent you already have, you’ll find your team is able to achieve a new level of understanding and effectiveness.

Molly Owens holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Psychology. She has a background in counseling, education, and the corporate workplace, and a passion for helping people discover how their personality type can help them succeed at work. For more information, visit http://www.PersonalityDesk.com.

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