- What is my ‘workplace individual type’?
- Do you know the real you?
- Is your perception of yourself in the workplace the same as that of your colleagues?
During my early years in the workforce, in the Seventies and Eighties, I never really gave the questions above a second thought.
My focus was on perfecting the art of being a sponge, soaking up as much knowledge and experience as I possibly could from my colleagues and bosses!
From my early days in the ‘rough and tumble’ world that is open pit quarrying operations, to the more ‘sophisticated’ environs of the beauty and cosmetics sales and marketing sector, it was all about learning the ropes, fitting in and making a positive contribution.
In fact, it wasn’t until 1999, some 22 years after I initially entered the workforce, that I was introduced to the concept of Individual Typing, being the application of complex psychological testing to determine my ‘Individual Type’.
My first exposure was to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, followed up some 5 years later with the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument, interspersed with a number of 360° surveys (based on questionnaires completed by 10 piers, 10 subordinates and my boss on how they perceive me in the workplace).
Now it is important I add here that I have no links to the organisations who host these Indicators, Instruments or Surveys, with the exception, that like thousands of others, I have participated in their exceptional programmes…and YES, without doubt I am a fan!
Not only do the outcomes make sense, but they also afford me the opportunity to recognise myself and my ‘fit’ within an organisation…my ‘Selfie in the Workplace’.
Let me explain.
The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is an introspective self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions. The test attempts to assign four categories:
- introversion (I) or extraversion (E)
- sensing (S) or intuition (N)
- thinking (T) or feeling (F)
- judging (J) or perceiving (P)
One letter from each category is taken to produce a four-letter test result, such as “INFJ” or “ENFP”.
Okay, time to reveal – I am an ‘ESTJ’
A combination of someone who is dominant in the areas of Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking and Judging.
- I have a tendency to be logical, practical, realistic, matter of fact and efficient
- I like to organise myself…and others
- I am dependable and will follow through, fully expecting others to do the same
- I like to run activities, however focusing more on the tasks than the people
- I am not interested in things that are of little use
Individuals with ESTJ preferences like to organize projects; to interact and work with others (as long as they are responsible about meeting deadlines and completing assigned tasks); to work in situations where clear, known problems can be solved with proven techniques.
When I read this summary it was as if I had taken a ‘Selfie’, (albeit not invented back in 1999, so more like looking in a mirror), it was me to a tee!!
In addition, the MBTI also advised that under stress, ESTJ Types may feel alone and unappreciated, being unable to communicate their feelings of distress and despair.
Once again, I caught myself looking in the mirror!
One of the most effective and memorable ‘training tools’ I introduced to my workplace, back in 2004, was one that provided the Individual with a colour as to their workplace strength and style, The Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI).
- Red was your warm, empathetic, people type (not always in HR)
- Green was your organised, administration type
- Blue was a numbers person, not necessarily an accountant, however always knew the numbers, kpis etc
- Yellow was your creative, lateral thinking, ideas type
At the end of the day, the outcome was:
(a) to see how each individual fared, however more importantly
(b) that the Company had its fair share of all ‘Types’, not an overwhelming dominance in just one or two.
After all, even a Company of Funeral Directors needs its fair share of ‘administrators’, ‘number crunchers’ and ‘creative thinkers’, not just all hushed voices, respectful phrases and a working knowledge of embalming fluids!
I’m sure you’ll agree, being off great importance, none of the ‘types’ are derogatory towards the Individual, just an indication of how they rank/rate themselves.
The ‘magic’ of the colours was that the participants talked about them, even several years afterwards, in a positive way, actually posting their ‘individual types’ on the partitions in their contemporary, state of the art, workstation.
As such they kept the programme alive, so much so that the Company provided it to all new ‘hires’.
Just FYI, the clincher was the effect ‘stress’ had on your Type.
Okay, time for me to reveal again…
My Type was dominant in Green (organisation and planning), Blue (analytical and problem solving), with a decent amount of Red (teaching and writing) but little Yellow (creative and innovative).
Basically me to a tee! Yet another ‘Selfie’!
However add stress the mix and I go full speed Blue and Green, withdrawing my Red and shutting down my Yellow, in other words I lean heavily towards ‘working the numbers’ and ‘micro-managing’ to get me out of a fix, at the same time becoming ‘aloof from my colleagues’ and ‘deaf to ideas’…not always a good mix!!
However, it was who I was, and being aware of it tempered my reliance on ‘the numbers’ and empowered me to be ‘more inclusive’ with my colleagues.
Without doubt a more desirable and positive outcome!
When I compare these outcomes with the consistent feedback from my regular ‘360° Feedback Surveys’, (over the period 2000 to 2010), then my Indicator Types of ESTJ and Green, Blue, Red and Yellow are true and accurate indicators.
So what happened as a result of me knowing My Individual Type?
Firstly, from Day 1 back in June 1999 I memorised my MBTI Type, being ESTJ, often reflecting on ‘the business day that just was’, indicating my tendencies to lean towards these characteristics.
In all cases my leaning was predominantly Sensing, Thinking and Judging.
- I was focussing on the present, or as we say today, ‘living in the now’, taking into consideration what is real and actual.
- I would apply and adapt relevant past experiences to deal with problems.
- I would default to achieving outcomes, that were both visible and tangible, in the immediate future.
As for my Extraversion, well this was illustrated by my innate ability to be energetic; to both speak and listen; to be congenial; and to be demonstrative.
Secondly, I memorised my HBDI colour scheme, Green, Blue, Red and Yellow.
Once again upon reviewing ‘the business day that just was’, I could identify with my conservative approach, being sequential at the same time applying logic, analysis and rationale to my decision making.
However nowhere was I exhibiting imagination or creativity.
Thirdly, I actively monitored my reactions to stress, specially those relating to my aloofness as identified in my 360° feedback reports!
I kept reminding myself that I might be the Leader of the Team, but it was the contribution of the Team that delivered the results.
Even though they might be dependent on me for guidance, direction and support, the business and its shareholders were wholly dependant on the performance of the Team.
Fortunately I had another 14 years ahead of me for my Team, the business and the Shareholders to benefit from the MBTI,