Office Personalities: How to Improve Employee Motivation and Manage By Personality Type

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If you’re looking to improve your effectiveness as a manager, a great place to start is by understanding both your personality type, and the personality types of the individuals you manage.

Motivating and connecting with your team can be challenging, largely due to the fact that one management style is not going to apply to every employee.

But did you know that you can pretty accurately determine what will work if you know your employee’s personality type?

Myers-Briggs Personality Types in the Office

When it comes to improving your management strategies, understanding the personality types you’re working with – and your own personality type – is a great place to start.

This can be done relatively quickly and easily with one of many online tests. You can search Myers-Briggs personality test or try this quick twelve minute assessment.

If your office decides to move forward with personality assessments, you can all take the online test or schedule a more in-depth personality assessment through a leadership and teamwork training service or the Myers & Briggs Foundation.

First, Determine Your Own Personality Type

Employee motivation is never cut and dry, but it always starts with the boss – not the employee. Start by understanding yourself and how you like to be managed.

Do you know your personality type? Do you know your personality type affects your strengths and weaknesses on the job? What about how to manage your employees’ personality types in the office?

First things first, find out what your personality type is so you know how you react to different situations and what natural biases you are bringing to the management table.

Next, Gather Your Team’s Personality Information

Once you have an understanding of your own personality type and how it informs your management style, you can move on to collecting information about your team members’ personality types.

Again, we recommend asking your team members to spend a few minutes completing a personality test like the ones mentioned above. Have them do so as part of their job, while they are on the clock, to incentivize them to make time for it. Gathering the results of these tests will give you valuable insight when it comes to better connecting with and motivating your team, both as individuals and as a whole.

Understanding Myers-Briggs Personality Types

Having personality type information collected and on hand isn’t enough. Once you have the data, you’ll need to work to truly understand it.

That’s where understanding the Myers-Briggs personality types comes in.

Based on work by Carl Jung, the Myers-Briggs personality types focus on four different personality aspects: how you are energized, how you take in information, how you make decisions, and how you organize your life.

Myers-Briggs Personality Type Chart

Of course, real people fall on a spectrum for each of these archetypal personalities. But the characteristics often hold true and can be very helpful when you’re trying to figure out why two employees just don’t seem to work well together.

Once you have a general understanding of these personality types, you can begin to adjust your management style to match and accommodate the personalities you’re working with.

Managing Extroverts in the Office

ENTJ – Natural leaders, ENTJs are outgoing, energetic, and quick. Their intuition makes them creative and innovative, while their thinking-judging orientation makes them good at details and structure. ENTJs are excellent at developing strategy. Motivate them with challenges to develop new skills and opportunities for advancement. To retain these leaders, you will need to develop long-term plans for leadership roles in strategic assignments.

ESTJ – Realistic and talkative, ESTJs like to be in control of the details. As employees, they will present ideas with facts and statistics to back up their logic. Motivate the ESTJ with the logic behind your decisions and give them autonomy on projects. The ESTJ will continue to be a happy employee so long as you are setting clear expectations and deadlines while providing logical, objective feedback.

ENFJ – ENFJs are compassionate and skilled at finding and communicating creative solutions. They like to work cooperatively and need a lot of appreciative feedback. ENFJs are also very sensitive, so be gentle with feedback and help them develop supportive relationships with coworkers.

ESFJ – Like ENFJs, the ESFJ is sympathetic. They are also one of the most conscientious personality types, often offering help in practical ways. Be positive and supportive with ESFJs while being specific about behaviors or results that you want to see change. ESFJs thrive best in friendly environments without much competition or tension. They work best in collaboration with others.

ENFP – ENFPs are energized by possibility and love the process of ideation. As feelers, ENFPs are warm with strong personal values and tend to take things personally. Unlike a thinker-judger, the ENFP will not react well to lots of detailed criticism. When you are giving feedback, leave lots of time for discussion and input. Like many other extroverts, the ENFP likes to work collaboratively, though they may clash with their very logical-analytical colleagues.

ESFP – Down-to-earth and flexible, the ESFP in your office probably goes out of his or her way to avoid conflict. They are observers: noticing and remembering details about conversations and people. ESFPs want to establish personal relationships in the office, including with you, so make sure you take the time to talk about something other than work before giving feedback. Your feedback for ESFPs should be sincere and interactive, but also diplomatic. As a sensor-feeler, the ESFP is particularly sensitive.

ENTP – Do you have an employee who loves debate? Chances are he or she is an ENTP. Gaining energy from other people, the ENTP loves to poke holes in arguments and strategies and is not afraid to speak up. The ENTP is clever and thrives on challenge. To keep an ENTP happy, keep their assignments interesting and encourage them to discover creative solutions.

ESTP – The ESTP is outgoing and spontaneous. Very good at being in the moment, ESTPs work well under pressure and are good negotiators. Motivate them with new experiences and real problems to solve. The best way to give feedback to and ESTP is actually to get them to think aloud about their experience and make feedback interactive.

How to Manage Introverts in the Office

ISTJ – Serious and meticulous, ISTJs are driven by facts and hard deadlines. ISTJs like plans and reasoning. They can also come off as aloof and unfeeling, especially to extroverted-feelers. As a manager, be straightforward with ISTJs and use objective, logical reasoning for decisions and feedback. ISTJs like measurable, tangible achievements. Give your ISTJs autonomy and the time/space to work alone.

INTJ – One of the rarest personality types, INTJs are both highly logical and creatively innovative. INTJs respond well to complex challenges that require both analytical and creative thought. They will want to know their path to career advancement from day one and respond best to clear objectives. To keep your INTJs, let them problem solve and give them the opportunity to do so independently.

ISFJ – Cautious and sensitive, ISFJs are wary of new ideas. They like facts, but are also very value-oriented when making decisions. The ISFJ needs a diplomatic manager who sets clear and specific expectations. The ISFJ is very caring and works well with others, but prefers one-on-one or small group settings for collaboration.

INFJ – The INFJ is hardworking and perceptive. They take the time to reflect and can be perfectionists. Integrity and convictions are important to the INFJ. The INFJ likes to be prepared, so request meetings in advance and specify the topic. When giving feedback, keep your pace slow and allow the INFJ time to reflect and develop their response.

ISTP – Very realistic, the ISTP is a quiet pragmatist. Largely even-tempered, the ISTP likes practical work as opposed to the ideas and theories preferred by intuitive personality types. The ISTP, like many introverts, prefers to work independently with minimal supervision. They respond well to concrete tasks and problems with clear accountability.

INTP – Skeptical and independent, INTPs think creatively but are convinced by logic. The INTPs in your office are likely the best at finding creative solutions to problems. Motivate your INTPs with complex assignments and don’t be afraid to encourage their competitive drive. The best way to retain an INTP is to give them frequent opportunities to develop and critique new ideas with a small group of colleagues they respect.

INFP – Powerfully intuitive, feeling, and perceiving, the INFP is one of the most perceptive personality types. They are committed to projects and ideals. Connect with the INFP on a personal level, and don’t forget to keep your energy in check. Allow INFPs time to process information and be sure to give them time to express their feelings and ideas about projects, especially in meetings with more extroverted colleagues.

ISFP – Very private, ISFPs come off as shy and detached. Observant, ISFPs are sensitive and like to see the best in others. ISFPs do best in a supportive environment and are easily hurt by harsh feedback. The ISFP likes to work independently, but near supportive people with whom he or she has a good relationship. Like other sensors, the ISFP needs specific facts, details, and accountability.

Other Resources for Managing Employees

Looking for other ways to keep your team of diverse employees happy and motivated? Check out these other resources for more tips and tricks for doing so:

Recognizing and Rewarding Extraordinary Employees – Learn about the traits to look for when it comes to spotting outstanding employees, and how to reward top performers in meaningful ways that will keep them motivated.

How to Retain Your Best Employees – Awesome employees are in high demand. Find out how to keep your best employees engaged and motivated so they’ll stick with your company.

4 Easy Ways to Keep Employees Happy – Read about four straightforward ways to keep employees content. Great tips for managers looking to implement or further improve a healthy workplace culture.

Expanding your team? Check out our available office space on Boston’s North Shore!

Editor’s Note: This content was originally published in October 2016, but has been updated as of January 2021.