About five years ago I had an epiphany. I was having issues with a remote staff member and couldn’t figure out how to make things work.

Luckily I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Myers Briggs by someone in my network and it opened my eyes to a whole new way of adapting my management style to get the best from them.

I was able to establish that this particular staff member had introvert tendencies which meant he preferred to communicate by email where he had time to organise his thoughts and think through his responses. This obviously didn’t work well with my extrovert tendencies of wanting to pick up the phone for a spontaneous chat about the topic, putting him on the spot and disrupting his schedule.

The compromise of scheduling calls and providing an agenda covering the topics I wanted to discuss helped me increase his productivity by about 25% and resulted in a much happier staff member.

Assessing your personality and those of your staff can yield big rewards, both in terms of managing a high performing team but also in being more aware of how you are perceived by others.

How to identify personality types

There are a myriad of tests you can take to find out you and/or your team’s personality type. One of the best known is the Myer Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which is based on Jung’s theory of psychological types.

These has been much discussion about whether or not this test is still relevant in today’s corporate world, but there is no denying that it is definitely an effective indication of people’s preferences. It is used by 89 of the Fortune 100 companies, so senior HR managers are certainly convinced of its positive benefits.

There are 16 personality types based around four different areas:

  • Your world: Do you focus on the external world, or on your inner world. So, Extraversion (E) or Introversion (I).
  • Processing information: Do you focus on facts only or do you add your own take and meaning to them? Sensing (S) or Intuition (N).
  • Decisions: When you are making decisions are you objective and impersonal or do you look first at the people involved and the circumstances? Thinking (T) or Feeling (F).
  • Structure: Do you like things structured and decided or do you like keeping your options open and looking for additional, new information? This is called Judging (J) or Perceiving (P).

You will have a preference in each area which will combine to give you four letters which make up your personality ‘type’.

The full Myers Briggs test can be done in a team environment by an accredited trainer, or you can take it online. There are also a myriad of free tests which use the same principles and can quickly give you very accurate results about your personality type.

Assessing your personality and those of your staff can yield big rewards

It is important to be mindful of how you introduce the concept of these tests to your team, as people often fear that the results may be used against them. Being open about the reasoning behind the testing, communicating how you will use the results to benefit performance and also sharing your own test results with the team will all help allay any concerns. 

What do you do with the results?

In terms of managing your team, the results of the test are just a starting point. The real benefit comes from discussing the results with your staff to dig deeper into their preferred working practices. Likewise don’t be afraid to explain how your results relate to your own preferred working style so that you can come to agreement on a way forward that works for both you and your team.

You can also incorporate the results into your recruitment strategy. For example, I’m an ENFP (Extraverted, iNtuitive, Feeling, Perceiving) and I work particularly well with ISTJs (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging) as they are my polar opposites and so compliment my weaknesses as long as I’m considerate of how they like to be managed.

In terms of helping you personally, once you understand your personality type you can adjust your approach when dealing with people both professionally and personally to get the best result from every interaction.

Read more about effective traits of team leaders to give yourself and your team even more of an edge.

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