Knowing the personality type of your employees can be useful for knowing how to lead them, collaborate with them, and motivate them effectively. In fact, many companies ask interview candidates to reveal their personality types during the interview process, to help assess whether or not they will work well with other team members and fit in with company culture overall.
One of the most common tools for defining someone’s personality type is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), a self-reported personality survey. The MBTI test uses scales like agree/disagree or 0-5 to help people self-identify against one of 16 predetermined personality types. These types are made up of four binaries laid out below and are usually indicated by a four-letter cryptograph.
In this article, we’ll examine each of the 4 Myers-Briggs personality types, along with what you can generally expect an employee with each personality type to be like.
Overview of the 4 Myers-Briggs personality types
Just in case you're unfamiliar with the 4 different Myers-Briggs personality types, here is a quick overview of them:
1. Extroversion and Introversion (E/I)
Everyone’s first letter is either E or I. If you self-identify as more extroverted, you’ll be an E. If the opposite is true, you’ll be an I. For those in the ambivert category, you’ll end up with either an E or I based on which way you answer the questions.
2. Sensibility and Intuition (S/N)
The second letter will either be an N for intuition (not to be confused with Introversion), or an S for sensing. Intuitive types tend to garner information through subtext, pick up on subtle hints, and empathize more easily. The S types are more likely to use direct evidence and data to inform their understanding.
3. Logic and Emotion (T/F)
Your third letter will either be a T or an F. If you’re the type to feel more deeply and take in the stimulus of the world through your emotions, you’re an F for feeling. If instead you prefer to employ logic and filter all problems through your brain, you’re a T for thinking.
4. Judgement and Perception (J/P)
The difference between judgement and perception is fluidity. Judgers (Js) are looking for justice and fairness, equality, truth, and absolution. Perceivers (Ps) are open to fluidity and change but they might find decision-making more of a challenge.
Is MBTI scientifically valid?
As a manager, you may be wondering if the results of someone’s Myers-Briggs test results are scientifically valid. The short answer is: yes and no. While self-reporting your own answers will imply a great deal of subjectivity, these are also the types of assessments psychologists and psychoanalysts will use to better understand their clients.
Similarly, many HR teams will send similar agree/disagree assessments to potential candidates, attempting to draw out cognitive processes and culture-fit before hiring. It’s not always important to know scientifically that someone thinks and behaves in a certain way, but that they perceive themselves a certain way. Self-perception often motivates our thoughts and actions more than we know.
What type of employee will each type be?
Your extraversion/introversion and judging/perceiving qualities are dynamic while your thinking/feeling and sensing/intuiting cues are more static. So, the truest and consistent parts of ourselves are usually the middle-two letters of our type, while the first and last letters can vary when we test multiple times. Because of this, it’s common to group the personalities into quadrants of four, based on their two interior type-indicators (the middle two letters). For example, as an INFJ, I’m in the Intuitive-feelers category. I might be more extroverted or more perceptive sometimes than my I and J would suggest, but my NF type-indicator is solid.
This will also inform the way your employees behave and react according to their types. Some people are their most extroverted selves at work while others are more reserved in the office. Some people are more prone to decisiveness and judgement at work, while others are more scared than usual to take charge. Whichever quadrant your employee’s type falls into below will indicate closely how they will behave at work and approach work problems. Check it out:
Intuitive Thinkers / NTs (INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, and ENTP)
These are your visionaries, your conceptual thinkers, your entrepreneurial renegades, and your reformers. They see problems and they fix them. They understand many things at once and can synthesize that information, breaking it down to its most useful and pragmatic final result. These types are independent and purpose-driven in their work. You can expect questions, objections, risks, and rewards out of employees like these. Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, and Einstein were all NT types – they’re great mad scientists, grassroots leaders, and makers of new things.
- INTJ: Perfectionist innovator who thrives on work autonomy
- INTP: Renegade problem-solver who needs space to figure it out
- ENTJ: Logical planner who breaks down barriers and fights smart
- ENTP: Enterprising makers who need puppet strings to pull
Intuitive Feelers / NFs (INFJ, INFP, ENFJ, ENFP)
Feelers and healers unite. Your NF types are going to be your guides, humanists, enthusiasts, and helpers. They are your cheerleaders, your moms and dads, and your teachers. You will find them loyal, idealistic, compassionate, and supportive. You will see them intuiting a need and fulfilling it without being asked. These people are the above-and-beyond helpers with a need to be useful. They’re creative, fun, and generally likeable but they depend on praise. These are your empaths, your storytellers, and they’re great with sensitive subjects. Popular NFs include Gandhi, Oprah, Ellen, and Walt Disney.
- INFJ: Principled creatives and mentors who appreciate integrity
- INFP: Idea-people with the propensity to help, heal, and guide
- ENFJ: Articulate diplomats who want to be public-facing and social
- ENFP: Tryers and wonderers who love to experiment and explore
Sensible Thinkers / STs (ISTJ, ISTP, ESTJ, ESTP)
These methodical, pragmatic people are the organizers and coordinators of your team. They are activists and co-conspirators with an eye for end-to-end solutions. They love reporting for duty and will seize any sense of closure, completion, or success. These types prefer stringent rules, clear deadlines, and accountability for themselves and for all. Your managers, auditors, analysts, and deal-makers are all STs. You might recognize fellow ST types like Warren Buffett, Vladimir Putin, Michelle Obama, and Winston Churchill.
- ISTJ: Dutiful doers who appreciate clarity, access, and solitude
- ISTP: Direct, to-the-point types who prioritize action and results
- ESTJ: Pragmatic decision-makers who use the facts to take action
- ESTP: Busy thinkers who thrive on big problems and a fast pace
Sensible Feelers / SFs (ISFJ, ISFP, ESFJ, ESFP)
The SFs are sensing more than intuiting, but they feel it all anyway. These are your peace-keepers, fun-lovers, protectors, and volunteers. You will see SF types routinely process stress or conflict through duty. They will see opportunities to be extra meticulous, adaptable, or tolerant to allow for the personalities and needs of others. Unlike their NF counterparts, these types don’t serve through talking and listening, but through doing or performing. Your more extroverted SFs might be entertainers and socializers who manage communities and build rapport in PR, sales, or social media. Your introverted SFs are building community, too – as contributors, conflict-mediators, givers and chameleons who bridge the gap. Famous SF types include Rihanna, Leonardo DiCaprio, Prince William, and Mother Theresa.
- ISFJ: Humble heroes who just want to help and keep people happy
- ISFP: Sensitive doers who thrive when making/creating for others
- ESFJ: Ethical traditionalists who thrive when serving the collective
- ESFP: Dynamic philanthropists who like to show up and show off
How to use MBTI in the workplace
This is all great insight, but how do you apply it to your team? Through testing! Give your employees the MBTI test, review the results and more deep insights on each type, and use these results to better understand your team.
Once you know everyone’s type, you can better match them to types of work, teams of people, and opportunities that suit their skills, proclivities, and preferences. Your happy and well-allocated employees will appreciate being seen, heard, and enjoying an exercise in self-exploration.
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