MBTI for teams

I use the Myers Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) which I have found very effective both in coaching individuals and working with teams. While I am normally not a fan of psychological tests and measures, especially those which I fear may be too superficially applied in consulting contexts, I am a fan of Jung’s Theory of Psychological Types. This is in part because of the way in which it manages to make something very complex be very accessible, and because it enables the MBTI to simultaneously identify what is characteristic and relatively unchanging about people, while at the same time also providing insight into how one can develop and improve within this framework.

The MBTI provides a way for people to understand their communication styles and ways of working, as well as understanding those of others. For example:

•   Some people always seem to be very organized and get things done on time, whereas others are always rushing to meet deadlines

•   Some people seem to take a long time to get to the point, while others seek to get to the heart of the issue with as few words as possible

•   Some people may dominate conversations, whereas others are quiet and their valuable message can sometimes get lost.

Often these differences in how people organize their work and perceive and discuss the world around them create tensions and/or miscommunications. However, in different situations, these different ways of communication can be seen either as talents or shortcomings. The question is how to use them in the most constructive way. Based in Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types, this test was elaborated into an extensively standardized and validated psychometric measure by Myers and Briggs, The MBTI has been used for decades to improve communication, enhance team problem solving, value and make constructive use of diversity and to resolve conflicts.

Of course, the MBTI does not resolve all conflicts between people, nor does it magically reveal how people will behave. Rather, where individual differences may be conflictual and frustrating during the course of projects and discussions, placing these differences in the light of the MBTI typology can help team members ‘translate’ each others’ approaches in such a way as to appreciate and make use of those differences rather than merely feeling blocked, confused or frustrated by them. Once it is clearer how these individual differences and similarities in communicating, working, and decision-making actually work, it becomes possible to apply them to specific challenges facing a team’s professionalization.

The workshops I conduct using the MBTI are interactive and experiential, and will involve working with real examples drawn from a team’s experience. By working in this way,  understanding about types and their interactions will be conveyed not only on a conceptual level, but also on the immediate level of experience. This is intended to make the new knowledge more accessible at the level of practical application—i.e., how can it be put into use when starting a project together, negotiating sales and delegating responsibilities, and managing communications throughout the process.

Typical outline of a day:

This workshop would involve an experiential and interactive training, working in small groups with shifting combinations of people, as well as in a large group, for which having more than one trainer is particularly useful.

The morning session: Learning about what type is and getting insight into yourself

This first half of the day might cover:

•   Explaining and exploring participants’ MBTI, interpreting the test

•   Looking at the impact of different types on communication, thinking, decision-making, and ways of working

•   Understanding what effect type has on stress, leadership and management, negotiation etc.

Through these experiences, which are interactive as well as individually focused, a beginning awareness of colleagues’ types starts to take place alongside the clarification of each participant’s own profile. When the goal is team-building, special attention is paid to explaining typology in terms of interaction with other types, and the experiential exercises ensure contact between all members of the group.

The afternoon session: Team dynamics and the MBTI: Putting it into practice

In the second half of the day, further interactive and experiential training would be undertaken in relation to the goals of this group. This could include:

•   Understanding how each of the function pairs are essential to the success of a project

•   Looking at who you tend to work with in your team up until now, and thinking about how you could balance and improve these combinations

•   Talking about how you can work more effectively with types you have less affinity for

•   Applying these strategies to specific cases, problems, and other examples taken from your business, whether sales, negotiating, working inside a project, discussing or making decisions, etc. In other words, linking the day back up to the goals, or, how can group members use the learning from the day to further address their particular goals.

For more information or to set up a consultation, please use the contact form on this site or phone me on 0651 074 437.

For more information about the MBTI you can visit the website at  www.myersbriggs.org