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It’s not a personality contest

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It’s strange to think that we can actually end up spending more time interacting with our colleagues than we do our friends. And sometimes even our family. People that we have never met before, and may have never met if it weren’t for the organisation we work for.

Before the majority of us were confined to remote working, we’d be spending eight hours a day with them. Even now, we’re spending hours on Zoom calls or working collaboratively one way or another. Almost overnight, colleagues become a huge part of our lives. A totally varied bunch of people. A totally varied bunch of personalities.

But every organisation needs this mishmash of personalities in order to function successfully. Too many of the same personality type, and you’ll face some serious clashes. And productivity would grind to a halt. Not ideal.

The best teams are built and maintained when their leaders understand each individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and know how to use their talents to the organisation’s advantage. They get everyone involved, encourage team members to work together, prevent blind spots and introduce all sorts of creative ideas.

Just because you have a diverse workforce however, doesn’t mean it’s always going to be smooth sailing. Managing these different personalities can be a real challenge, especially in a remote working environment. And in order to manage them, you have to understand them.

Enter the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

Based on the work of psychiatrist Carl Jung, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was developed by Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, in the 1940s, to identify 16 different personality types that help explain differences in how people take in information and make decisions.

The MBTI indicates the differences in people that result from where they prefer to focus their attention and get energy (extraversion or introversion), the way they prefer to take in information (sensing or intuition), the way they prefer to make decisions (thinking or feeling) and the way they prefer to deal with the outside world (judging or perceiving).

This assessment has become one of the world’s popular personality tests, used by millions of people globally. In fact, I’d put money on the majority of you reading this blog having taken this test at one point or another during your professional lives.

Organisations typically use the MBTI during the recruitment process or team-building exercises - an accurate indication of how inherently different individuals can work together successfully. The assessment offers an in-depth look at working, communication, decision-making and leadership styles. It looks at how someone deals with conflict, how stress impacts them and how they approach change.

Of course, the MBTI is not the only test out there, although from personal experience, I’ve found it extremely insightful. Whatever tool or method you use, this kind of assessment is invaluable. This kind of information is invaluable.

Even if you think you know your team well and you think you all work well together, imagine how much more effective and productive you’d be if you knew how each individual preferred to learn and communicate. How they respond to certain situations. How they could make a more valuable contribution to your organisation.

Recognising the value in people’s differences and having that awareness of how others react and process information can make the world of difference in minimising conflict and maximising collaboration.

Yes, it means being vulnerable. It means having open and honest conversations about your weaknesses, as well as your strengths. It means stepping outside of your comfort zone. But I guarantee your team and your organisation will be a healthier and happier one when you and your team understand each other’s different personality traits.

Am I right? Have you ever completed an MBTI assessment? I’d love to hear about your experience. You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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