Developed in 1943 by the mother-daughter team of Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers, the Myers-Briggs personality test is designed to reveal characteristics that lead to career strengths and weaknesses. The Myers-Briggs test assigns four aspects of an employee’s personality, defined as follows:
- Extraversion (E) – Outgoing, action-oriented, seeks breadth of knowledge, frequent interaction and gets energy from spending time with others
- Introversion (I) – Reflective, thought-oriented, seeks depth of knowledge, substantial interaction and gets energy from spending time alone
- Sensing (S) – Lives in the present, uses the five senses for practical and real solutions, memory recall is rich in detail, improvises from past experiences, comfortable with clear and concrete information
- Intuitive (N) – Lives in the future, looks beyond the five senses for imagination and new solutions, memory recall emphasizes patterns and contexts, improvises from theoretical understanding, comfortable with ambiguous and fuzzy information
- Feeling (F) – Instinctively searches for facts and logic, naturally drawn to accomplishing tasks, able to provide objective analysis, accepts conflict as natural
- Thinking (T) – Instinctively looks at personal feelings and empathy, naturally sensitive to people’s needs and reactions, able to seek consensus, unsettled by conflict
- Judging (J) – Plans details in advance, focuses on task-related action, keeps ahead of deadlines, naturally uses standard procedures and organization to manage life
- Perceiving (P) – Comfortable without details to act, likes to multi-task and have variety, tolerant to deadlines and time pressure, naturally avoid commitments which interfere with flexibility and freedom
The combination of four aspects reveals an individual’s Myers-Briggs type. While the test should not be relied on as a complete picture of someone’s personality, it can be helpful in understanding communication styles, working habits, and how the employee relates to others.
Each type has strengths and weaknesses that lead to success in different jobs. Extroversion and introversion (E and I) may seem like the most important distinction between types, but the influence of the other aspects is important to note as well.
The first and last letters of a Myers-Briggs type can determine an employee’s attitude. For example, the four different attitudes (EJ, IJ, IP, and EP) all have different approaches to networking.
For instance, EJ types enjoy interacting in large groups and are not afraid to approach those they don’t know. They are able to take leadership roles and engage in problem solving. Their judging aspect makes them able to determine which information is most useful.
Meanwhile, IJ types are less forward than their EJ counterparts are, but they are able to network effectively. They prefer to interact with smaller groups and appreciate a focused direction, as opposed to making idle chit-chat. These individuals are constantly in search of meaningful discussion and connection with others.
IP types have a more difficult time with cold contacts. They prefer to begin interactions online as a way to “break the ice.” Social networking sites like LinkedIn may be the IP type’s best method of making new connections. However, when the IP type is comfortable, he or she is able to make deep connections with others, as these types collaborate very well with others.
Finally, the EP types love to exchange ideas in group environments. Conferences and large networking events are within the boundaries of their comfort zones. They are outgoing and make friends easily, both personally and at work. These individuals are also able to think quickly and improvise, making them highly adaptable.
Taking Myers-Briggs types and attitudes into consideration can help employees better understand their strengths and weaknesses in the workplace. Additionally, the results of an individual’s personality test can point to areas where they have potential to succeed professionally.