Posts Tagged ‘team training’

“I Can’t Decide What Type I Am!” - Part 1

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

According to the manual on the MBTI?, around 25% of the people who take the MBTI? score close to the middle on one or more of the dimensions. Although some of those people are able to identify their preferences in spite of their slight scores, other people aren?t able to identify their preferences in spite of their clear scores. So let?s say it evens out, and for around 25% of the people who take the MBTI?, their type is still an open question even after they?ve received their report forms.

If you believe that making a person familiar with their natural gifts and course of development is a worthwhile pursuit, then it probably bothers you when that?s not easy, and sometimes nearly impossible, to do. You?d probably like to know more about why people sometimes can?t decide what type they are, and what can be done about it.????

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?To get closer to some answers on these questions, we?re going to use as an example a man named Bob. He?s a real person who has not been able to decide on his type in 13 years! Bob first took the MBTI? in 1977 and came out ISFP, but he didn?t feel that the profile fit him entirely. Since then he?s taken it 12 times, each time coming out a different type, each time feeling the profile didn?t entirely fit him.

You may be wondering why he doesn?t just drop the search for his type if the theory doesn?t seem to be working for him. ?I?ve tried,? he says, ?but it?s like one of those birthday candles that won?t go out when you blow it. I put it aside but I keep coming back to it.?

Bob is looking to the MBTI? to give him guidance in making a mid-life career change. He?s been a successful lawyer, but he hasn?t been happy as a lawyer. ?I had to work so hard just to keep up that it wasn?t fun. I saw other lawyers around me going great guns and still enjoying themselves. I want to find a career where I can do the same. I feel that if I knew my true type, I could start laying out a plan consistent with that type.?

We talked to some of the MBTI? experts who have had experience with people who have a hard time deciding on their type. We?re going to tell you what they recommend, and how it worked for Bob. In this issue we?ll look at what the experts recommend you do in a workshop setting to help people decide on their type, and how Bob reacted to these experiences. He is a good example of how frustrating, fascinating, and eventually satisfying it can be to help people find their true type.

Tell them t?s normal and give them some time.
For most of the people who are uncertain on one or more of the dimensions of the MBTI?, time usually takes care of the problem. After they?ve had some time to absorb the definitions of the functions and observe their own behavior, their type usually becomes clear to them.

If you?re giving a workshop on type, it?s probably a good idea to tell people up front that they may not be able to decide their type in the course of your workshop. Tell them that initial uncertainty about your type is normal. You don?t want to cause them any stress because they don?t fit into the theory right away. Be as general, positive, neutral, and non-suggestive as you can be about this issue.

And you might mention that some people may never be certain about what type they are. Some people are just more distinctly a type than others. You can see this even in small children. Some have a clear sense of who they are when they?re very young, some don?t have a clear sense of who they are until 30 or 40, and some are never sure. The important thing is, for most of these ?untypical? people, it?s not a problem. It?s no big deal.

Time and observing his own behavior did not help Bob decide on a type. In fact, the more time went by, the more uncertain he became. But Bob continued to pursue his type because of his own feeling that he had to know, not because poor training had made him feel that something was wrong with him.

Give them a variety of experiences in a workshop.
We talked to Janet Thuesen and Otto Kroeger, a team that has trained at least 10,000 people in type theory in the last 10 years and recently co-authored the book Type Talk (Delacorte, 1988). They said that a good way to help people decide what type they are is to offer them a variety of experiences in a workshop, especially the experience of being put into groups with others who are supposed to be the same type as they are, and seeing if they experience agreement and similarity.

In one of the first workshops on the MBTI? that I attended, the trainers asked all the Introverts to get into a group and all the Extraverts to get into a group. In the group of Introverts we were asked to answer the questions:

What do you like about being an Introvert? What don?t you like about being an Introvert? What do you like about Extraverts? What don?t you like about Extraverts?

Then we reported back to the group on what we had talked about and heard the Extraverts answer the same questions. We did the same thing on all four of the dimensions. I remember how powerful an experience that was for me. I still remember a woman saying ?When I hear Extraverts talking about what they?re going to do today, it makes me tired. I couldn?t possibly do all that in one day?? We all laughed and nodded our heads in agreement. That kind of clicking with other people strengthened my certainty that type worked, and that I was an Introvert.

I?ve also been present in several ?type-alike? groups since then where it became clear that one of us did not belong in that group. It?s an excellent method for helping people get clarity on their type. But it didn?t work for Bob. He attended one workshop where people were asked to go into groups with their like types and answer questions such as ?How are you in a team?? and ?How are you as a leader?? It didn?t settle anything for him. ?I went around and listened to different groups, and read the things they put up on the wall, but none of the groups rang out loud and clear to me,? he said.

Ask them to read several profiles and mark the parts they agree with.
Another thing Otto Kroeger recommends for people who can?t decide what type they are is that they do some homework. Their assignment is to read profiles on all the types that they might be, and mark the lines they agree strongly with, then add them up at the end. I did this with my husband when he was uncertain if he was an INTP or an ENTP. He had a terrible time deciding if he was an Extravert or an Introvert in the abstract, but he agreed with every line of the ENTP profile and not a single line of the INTP profile.

But Bob has been doing this kind of thing for 17 years. He has every book of profiles that has been published, and they?re all underlined and checked and X?d. However, none of the profiles really fits him completely, and over time.

Most of the profiles have some things that sound true for Bob, and some things that don?t. And on some days he feels like one type but the next day it might change. And sometimes it doesn?t even take a day. Before breakfast, he may be reading the profiles of the INFP and identifying with them, but later in the day, the ESFP and ISFP may sound better to him. For several days he may write in his journal about how he?s an SJ, but today write that he must be an SP because he feels so impulsive, playful, and physical.

Ask them to discuss it with people who know them.
The third thing Otto Kroeger suggests is that you ask people who know you well what they think. When I asked Bob to tell me the name of someone who knows him fairly well, and also knows type, he mentioned Katherine Myers, an INFP who has been familiar with type for most of her life.

Kathy Myers told me: ?His endless searching for self, and his insistence that he know what is at the core of him before he can make any decisions, reminds me of an INFP. It?s a weakness of the INFP, in fact. Like other NFs, INFPs need to operate out of their core, to be true to themselves. But without the E or the J to pull them out into the world, INFPs can really get stuck trying to figure themselves out.

?In more specific ways he also reminds me of an INFP. He?s very much in tune with other people, and responds to them so that they feel good about themselves. He speaks quietly, about things he?s enthusiastic about. He entertains beautifully, but he?s not a hail-fellow-well-met. He does it quietly and graciously. I?ve been trying to get him off this obsession with knowing what type he is. He feels he can?t move or decide on a career until he does. I tell him that he?s fortunate to be able to use each of the functions when it?s appropriate.?

I told Kathy Myers that I had two doubts about Bob being an INFP. One was that when he was young, he became a leader at just about every opportunity. He rattled off a dizzying list of leadership positions. He was president of his junior class in high school, and then of the whole student body in his senior year. A high school teacher told his parents he had never seen a better leader come through the system. In college, he was captain of his football team, president of his college fraternity, president of the leadership fraternity, and voted the best leader in his senior class. And all through his legal career, people were trying to persuade him to go into politics.

Why, I asked Kathy, would an Introvert place himself so often in front of, and in the middle of, groups? I cold see an Introvert being the leader of a group if they all shared a passionate interest, but Bob seemed to be the leader of a variety of groups, with no particular shared interests. ?Introverts can often be leaders,? Kathy said. ?I?m an Introvert and among other things I was the editor of the school paper, and voted most likely to succeed.?

And then I told her that in many hours of listening to Bob talk, I had never heard him make a large generalization, which Intuitives seem to need to do as much as they need to breathe. And when asked a question about his preferences, he referred to something he had done recently, instead of looking at his behavior over a lifetime and observing patterns. I?m usually hungry for specifics when I?m listening to Intuitives. When I?m listening to Bob, I?m hungry for a generalization.

Kathy said he seemed to be comfortable talking about the type theory, which was fairly abstract. She also said that she doubted an S would spend this much time trying to find out who they were. And I had to agree. If Bob was unlike any Intuitive I?d ever listened to, he was also unlike any Sensing type I?d ever listened to.

It?s hard for some people to put a type on themselves because on one or more of the dimensions, they really do have attributes from both sides. When you ask them to choose a type, you?re asking them to deny something about themselves that is important, but not ?typical.?

To be continued?

The TYPE Reporter, Excerpt from Vol. 5, No. 2, written by Susan Scanlon
www.typereporter.com

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a trademark or registered trademark of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries.

The Effect of Personality Type on Team Performance

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Following is a summary of an article in the Journal of Management Development, Vol. 16, No. 5, 1997, pp 337-353, MCB University Press, 0262-1711; by John H. Bradley and Frederic J. Hebert, East Carolina University, Greenville, South Carolina, USA.

Team approach to IS development

The purpose of this paper is to highlight the impact of personality type on team productivity and to propose a model that can be used to analyze the personality-type composition of an information system (IS) development team.???

Expected benefits of successful teams include increased motivation, greater task commitment, higher levels of performance, ability to withstand stress, more innovative solutions, and decreased development time.???

Ineffective teams may be the product of inappropriate team composition. Deciding to use a team approach is only the first step. Great care must be exercised in building the team to ensure its ultimate effectiveness. There are a number of pitfalls involving group dynamics that can undermine a team?s effectiveness. Bradley and Hebert propose a model of the impact of the personality-type composition of a team on overall team performance. The model applies personality-type theory to the team building process and then illustrates the importance of this theory by evaluating a case example of two software development teams. One of the teams was considered to be very productive by management, while the other team?s performance was judged to be unsatisfactory.

This case study is valuable because it clearly demonstrates the influences of personality type on two teams that are comparable in age, IQ, problem-solving ability, gender, and task responsibility. The task of IS development is appropriate to the discussion because it is of such relative complexity, especially with the use of multi-functional teams, that its successful accomplishment requires a high level of harmony among the team members.

Within this paper Bradley and Hebert discuss the influence of personality-type composition on team performance. Four critical factors are discussed in the context of successful IS development teams, followed by a discussion of personality types using Jungian psychological-type theory as a framework. A theoretical model of preferences for team composition is derived by applying personality-type theory to the four factors. The influences of personality type on the two software development teams? performance are discussed and conclusions and recommendations are presented concerning team personality-type composition and its influence on team performance.

Critical factors for effective teams

An increasingly popular example of the team approach to IS development is joint application design (JAD). JAD is an example of representative design which involves user representatives in the decisions required to formulate an IS. One of the basic dimensions of team effectiveness involves individual differences. The ideal team should be highly diversified in the talent and knowledge each member contributes, while maintaining open, non-threatening communication.

JAD refers to the inclusion of members of the user departments along with the IS specialists on the development team. From JAD literature, three characteristics of productive teams that are strongly related to individual differences seem to dominate: effective leadership, intra-team communication, and group cohesion. Although all three of these characteristics are partially dependent on the personality types of the individuals involved, personality is rarely directly included in the discussions. The four dominant individual difference characteristics of productive teams ? Leadership, Communication, Cohesion, Heterogeneity ? can be combined, based on the common thread of personality type, to form an evaluative model of the impact of personality type on team performance.

Effective leadership is an especially important factor in the success of an IS development team. A knowledgeable, assertive leader must not only be available and properly trained in group dynamics, but must also be the type of person who can lead people who represent different functional areas and different levels of management. They must control the team meetings, drawing everyone into the discussions until a consensus is reached. The leader must also be able to keep the team on track and quickly resolve conflicts. These qualities suggest a person who is aware of the different personality types and how each type influences overall team performance.

Intra-team communication is another critical factor that influences IS development team success. A problem with intra-team communication may manifest itself in several ways.

Cohesion has also been identified as a crucial ingredient in team effectiveness. A cohesive team will demonstrate a spirit of togetherness and support for one another that helps team members quickly resolve conflicts.

The personality type heterogeneity of team members and its influence on successful group performance concludes that for complex problem solving, teams made up of different types of individuals with a variety of skills, knowledge, abilities and perspectives are more effective than groups that are more homogeneous. A diversity in skills and knowledge combined with a balance of personality types is desirable for effective teams.

Certain personality types are more accepting of others and more willing to consider different perspectives. Certain types are risk-averse while others are stimulated by risk-taking. Certain types are motivated by the challenge of an unsolved problem, while others are easily overwhelmed and slip into inaction. Certain types make natural leaders while others are more comfortable as followers. Certain personality types are natural communicators while others find it very difficult to express themselves. Each personality type, however, has a positive contribution to make to the overall effectiveness of the team therefore a balance of personality types should be sought.

A model of the effect of personality type on team performance

In general, the best leader is an ESTJ or an ENTJ, depending on the task involved. The extroverted leader will readily communicate directions and organizational information.

Intra-team communication will be more natural for the extrovert than the introvert, the sensing than the intuitive, and the thinking than the feeling personality types. Extroverts are natural communicators and too many extroverts can result in confusion as they interrupt each other to express their views. Sensing types perceive the facts and can easily organize their thought for communication to the other team members. Intuitives tend to develop more complex ideas that are more difficult to communicate. Thinking types are prone to making quick judgments and immediately verbalizing their thoughts while feeling types may not express their true thoughts in order to avoid hurting someone?s feelings.

Cohesion is affected most by thinking versus feeling. The thinking team members, in their haste to express their judgments, often offend the more sensitive team members. The feeling member, will be constantly aware of the esprit de corps and do what they can to maintain harmony. Cohesion does not mean the absence of conflict. A cohesive team is able to resolve conflicts in a manner that results in the synergism that makes team work valuable.

Team heterogeneity refers to the number of each personality type on the team. Each type has something positive to contribute. In fact, usually a large degree of psychological homogeneity causes problems. The homogeneous team may reach consensus faster, however, the results will not be as innovative as they will be with a more heterogeneous team. In IS development, each personality type should have roughly equal representation.

A case example

This case example of two IS development teams serves as an excellent illustration of loss of productivity due to a poor combination of personality types.

A medium-sized software development company in the Southeastern USA makes extensive use of teams in the development of IS software. Company management noticed a distinct difference in the productivity of two major teams. The two teams were given assignments of developing information systems of comparable complexity, yet team 1 took almost twice as long as team 2 in the development process and produced an IS of only moderate quality. Team 2 finished their project ahead of schedule and produced a high-quality system. Management noticed that the members of team 1 did not communicate well (misunderstandings as well as failure to communicate) and seemed to have great difficulty getting organized.

The teams were not different in terms of demographics and basic ability levels and were performing comparable tasks. Why was their performance so different? The personality-type composition of the two teams explains the differences in team performance.

Personality-type composition and team performance

In this case example, the two teams were judged to be different in their performance level. Team 2 performed at a higher level than team 1. The MBTI? types of the two groups were analyzed to identify potential differences in personality type. It is important to have diversity and balance in the personality types of various group members. Team 2 (the more successful team) was more well balanced than team 1. Team 1 had 80% introverts and 20% extroverts compared to team 2?s equal percentage of 50% of both types. In team situations, introverts often tend to keep information to themselves and are less communicative in meetings. Team 1?s large percentage of introverts may have inhibited successful intra-team communication.

Team 2 also had a better balance in the type combinations of information intake (S/N) and decision making (T/F). The combinations are particularly important to effective teams because much of a development team?s work relates to receiving and processing information to make decisions about the particular system being developed. The percentages of S versus N were comparable, with team 1 having 60% Ns and 40% Ss, while team 2 had 57% Ns and 42% Ss. Sensing types like to focus on the details and may tend to miss the larger picture. Intuitive types may love the concept of teamwork but may have difficulty putting the concept into action. They are much more comfortable envisioning the larger picture and theorizing about what the system will do than with getting busy on the details of putting the system together.

Team 1 had only had 20% Fs, while team 2 had 42% F types. The difference between thinkers and feelers can cause major problems for effective team building. Thinkers are primarily concerned with accomplishing the task, while feelers are concerned with how well people work together. This basic difference in task versus people orientation suggests that the T/F difference is among the primary influences on a team?s esprit de corps. This suggests that a successful team is one that balances task orientation (the T type) with the feelings of group members who are accomplishing that task (F types).

A major reason for team 1?s lack of success could have been caused by the preponderance of Ts who pushed ahead to complete the task while giving less attention to user needs as well as the needs of other F types on the team. Team 2?s high percentage of F types could have facilitated more attention being given to the needs and the feelings of other team members.

Some team members prefer to approach problem solving in an orderly, systematic manner while others prefer less structured approaches. Team members with opposing preferences will have great difficulty avoiding conflicts in their communications. The T types would be focused on getting the specific jobs done, while the F types would be more concerned with group harmony, which could cause problems in deciding how to proceed on the project. Team 1, which was composed of a large percentage of T types, may have raced ahead to get jobs done without everyone being on board, while team 2?s larger percentage of F types may have helped them focus more attention on group harmony.

Team 1 had a better balance of J and P types (70% J, 30% P) than team 2 (100% J). However, too much diversity may actually inhibit successful team performance. The J/P difference, at least on the surface, is the key to team success or failure. Js have a need for closure, to move on to other important objectives, while Ps have an unceasing need to consider other alternatives and to make seat-of-the-pants assessments. Too many Js could influence the rush to stay on schedule and they might not carefully consider all of the potential alternatives. In contrast, Ps have difficulty staying on schedule because they are taking so much time to consider all the alternatives. In a complex project that has many alternatives to consider that would slow down the decision-making process, as long as team 2 considered all of the alternatives carefully, they would probably be more apt to stay on schedule than team 1.

Leadership is an important component of JAD teams. In the case example, the unsuccessful team?s (team 1) leader was an INFP type, while the successful team?s (team 2) leader was an ESFJ. Team 1?s introvert leader may have withheld information and sought to shorten meetings because being with people drains an introvert?s energy. Team 2?s extrovert leader may have been more effective in stimulating group communication and in involving all group members in the process. Team 1?s intuitive (N) leader may have been in favor of the team concept, but unable to transfer that support into action. In contrast, team 2?s sensing (S) leader may have been more effective in keeping the group on task. Team 1?s feeling (F) type leader may have clashed with the large percentage of group members who were thinkers (Ts). This F leader may have been focusing more attention on group harmony rather than getting the job done, which could have frustrated the T types. In contrast, while team 2?s leader is also an F type, there were a larger percentage of F types on the team who could offer support for the leader in emphasizing group harmony as an important factor. Team 1?s leader was a perceiver (P), a person who has difficulty in obtaining closure on important issues to move on to other important tasks. Team 2?s leader was a judger (J), which was consistent with the other team members.

Team 1?s large percentage of introverts, thinkers and perceivers may have resulted in less-effective group communication, while team 2?s large percentage of extroverts, feeling types and judgers may have facilitated group communication.

Team composition of personality types does appear to be an important explanatory variable for differences in team performance. This case example suggests that in general, diversity and balance in team member personality types is needed to produce successful team performance. Team 2?s greater balance of extroverts and introverts, sensing types and intuitive types, and thinking and feeling types appears to have influenced successful team performance. Team 2?s large percentage of judging types also ensured that the project was completed in a timely manner.

Conclusion and recommendations

The case example of IS development teams presented here suggests that personality types are an important factor in successful team performance. Organizations that desire to develop effective teams need to analyze the personality-type compositions of these groups and help team members understand their own personal attributes as well as appreciate the contribution of the other team members. The model presented in this paper is a valuable tool in accomplishing this analysis.

Consider the following questions in analyzing teams using the MBTI?:

  1. Does the team have the best types of people to get the job done? The type of job being done should have some influence on the types of people who are selected to be on a team. For complex tasks such as product development, a balanced team of opposing personality types is needed. The more complex the task, the more important the balance is.
  2. Are the right jobs within the team being done by the most effective types of people? Is the personality type of each team member compatible with the requirement of the area of responsibility? Are they using their abilities most effectively by being in the place where their contribution will make a difference? In a team situation, the team leader is very important. Personality type should be considered strongly when choosing the team leader. Team leaders should demon strate the personality-type preferences that enable them to involve others in team communication, to be sensitive to the needs of all team members, and to keep the team on schedule to complete the task.
  3. How will the team evaluate progress towards its goal? This question suggests a balanced diversity of all types on the team, particularly judgers, perceivers, feelers, and introverts. Judgers help keep the team on schedule, while perceivers ensure that multiple options are considered before proceeding ahead. Feelers ensure that someone?s idea is not dismissed out of hand and that group harmony is considered in making decisions. Introverts are needed to offer internal reflection of what items are being communicated orally in a meeting. They need time to think through what has been discussed and to give their opinions before decisions are made.
  4. Is there a team type that can effectively determine when the project is completed? When should development stop and implementation begin? Such personality types as extroverts, intuitives and judgers are particularly helpful in answering this question. Extroverts prefer to get issues out in the open so they can be discussed and resolved. Intuitives provide a holistic view of the entire organization and provide their perceptive assessment of whether the system is doing what it was intended to do. Judgers help keep everyone on track and offer their assessment of whether the task has been completed.

This model offers important insights into the influence of personality-type composition on team performance. It is important for the manager to remember that the MBTI? measures preferences. Individuals can adopt other personality types if they are aware of personality-type differences and make a concerted effort to change. However, these individuals will need to be monitored very carefully.

Team performance is at least partially related to the team?s personality-type composition and the previous case example illustrates this relationship and serves as a reminder to managers to consider carefully personality type in determining team composition.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a trademark or registered trademark of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other countries.