Personality clashes and disparate problem-solving styles are all too common, even in the most motivated organizations. Someone’s true character is often revealed in the way in which he or she acts and reacts in situations with others. The ripple effects can be devastating. They can even dam up the works altogether if you don’t take action—the right action.
Most conflicts stem from misunderstandings. By being proactive and decoding the personalities in your organization—that is, working to understand the different ways in which people see and understand the world while interacting with others, you can help your employees to work together harmoniously. When employees have a strong grasp of the personalities of their colleagues, they can leverage each other’s strengths and sharpen one another (Prov. 27:17).
With my 25 plus years of HR experience, the best tool I’ve found to address these staff conflicts is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) personality test. It’s the most common, most powerful personality testing tool, and it’s used by the world’s best organizations to create high-performance workplaces. I’ve seen firsthand, countless times, how this phenomenal tool yields amazingly insightful results.
First used during World War II, it was developed by a mother–daughter team to assess the best-fitting wartime jobs for the available labor force, as back then many women were quickly needed to fill what had once been exclusively male occupations. The test forever transformed how organizations found apt personnel and remains widely used around the world today. Available in several languages, each year more than three million people complete the MBTI, and more than 50 million people have been tested. Top organizations use it to improve the entire employee on-boarding process.
One Body, Many Parts—and Personalities
Whether you work in a Christian or “secular” environment, all people have different personality types—and issues. Do any of these sound familiar?
- Susan won’t move on a decision until she accumulates a heap of background information, even during a rush job.
- Bob grows irritated and withdrawn when project parameters aren’t black and white, and his manager, Doug, gets angry when Bob’s not proactive.
- Karen is the lead engineer, but rarely contributes at meetings, even when asked, and that’s creating friction.
These are just a few mild examples of what a round of Myers-Briggs testing can address—far more serious conflicts can also be resolved once you better understand the people involved and how to motivate them.
Assessing personality types zeroes in on how your employees receive, perceive, and process data. More than that, it reveals the tendencies and preferences in a person’s basic psychological makeup that affect daily workplace decisions.
And that starts with assessing you. You must understand yourself if you are going to be able to help others recognize their own personality type. God created you with special talents and a unique personality, equipping you for his glory.
Each of you as a good manager must use the gift that God has given you to serve others (1 Pet. 4:10).
The test starts with four main personality types and their combinations to sort people into one of 16 general categories. It’s a logical model for understanding thought processes and behavior, both at work and in life. Most participants are astonished at just how accurate the results are. Years of misunderstandings or feeling unappreciated can quickly vanish.
It’s about yielding results, not laying blame. There are no binary “good” or “bad” results. Like the biblical teaching on the body of Christ, which has many parts of equal value, so each different personality in an organization adds value, as they are, just how God made them. Paul writes,
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable… (1 Cor. 12:21–22).
The key is to match types with the kinds of tasks they are best suited to—where they will most likely succeed. “Big-picture thinkers” who struggle to focus on the more minute details can relax, while meticulously minded employees discover ways to gel better with less precise team members. The more people understand and align their natural type to their workplace, the happier and more productive they become.
Understanding ourselves is biblical. In order to do what is right for the Lord and our fellow coworkers, we must first understand ourselves. Using the MBTI is a great starting point.
I meet with people in their forties and fifties who are unhappy in their careers, and their MBTI results reveal that they are simply not occupying the right jobs, or are not in the right career field, to find satisfaction. Working unsatisfied is not what God has planned for us. Sometimes, people just need a course correction, and naturally, the earlier in their career, the better. C.S. Lewis writes in The Case for Christianity,
We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place you want to be, and if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.
As a certified Myers-Briggs Administrator, I’ve found that the test results increase the respect and understanding that both employees and employers have for diverse styles of thinking and relating. Participants are often so excited to learn more about themselves that they often share those results with family and friends to help improve those relationships. Everyone wants to be understood, valued, and appreciated!
By leveraging these insights, teams, departments, and entire organizations can grow more agile and effective. This is how organizations vault into high-performance status!
Editor’s note: In HIS Name HR offers the administration of the MBTI either in individual or team formats to help reveal the personality attributes of leaders and their teams and maximize organizational effectiveness. In HIS Name HR is currently offering 20% off all MBTI packages to IFWE readers. For more information, contact Mark at MGriffin@InHISNameHR.com. Offer expires June 1, 2019.