Understanding how your employees ‘tick’ is a challenging but necessary task, especially when they are first hired. How can you ensure they will fit in? How can you estimate which coworkers they will collaborate with easiest? How sensitive will they be to criticism? And how much space do they need to complete their work?
There are no shortage of assessments out there, but I’ve always personally been a big fan of the Myers-Briggs type indicator. It’s based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type and measures psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. Many people know this test as ‘the test where you get four letters at the end.’
While you may not have time or the resources to have every employee complete the official Myers-Briggs test, there are still a few ways you can incorporate these preferences into better understanding your employees.
I or E (Introvert or Extrovert) This is probably the one that people assume is the easiest to spot, but it isn’t as black and white as you might think. It’s easy to label the person who talks a lot as an extrovert, but it’s really where this person gets their energy that matters. Extroverts tend to be energized by people while introverts often feel drained by people. As an introvert myself, an eight hour stint in the office surrounded by colleagues can feel extremely draining.
S or N (Sensing or Intuition) Intuitives are often daydreamers and tend to see the big picture, while Sensors focus on the concrete data in front of them. It’s been said that intuitives can't see the trees for the forest while the Sensor can't see the forest for the trees. If you work alongside someone who notices everything, chances are they are a Sensor. As an Intuitive I know I am always the last to notice when someone gets a new haircut.
F or T (Feeling or Thinking) We all know that Thinkers lead with their heads and Feelers lead with their hearts, but it isn’t always that simple. For starters, don’t assume that all males are Thinkers. If you work with a male who is passionately involved with his work and/or sensitive to criticism, he is most likely a Feeler. Thinkers on the other hand are able to remove their feelings and think rationally about work.
P or J (Perceiver or Judger) You can often tell whether someone is a Perceiver or Judger just by looking at their workspace. Perceivers tend to be unorganized and on the messy side while Judgers are more likely to have a clean and orderly desk. Judgers are also more likely to believe in a correct way to approach things while Perceivers are far more easy going and flexible.
A word of caution, not everyone can fall into a distinct classification, so be careful when assuming which type your colleagues may be. I have been spot on with some predictions, yet failed miserable at others.
Finally, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is an assessment, it’s not a test. So in other words there is no right or wrong type. And if you think because you are an “ESTJ” that everyone in your workplace should be too, you couldn’t be more wrong. The more diverse your team is, the more in-depth your discussions will be.