Excerpts from The TYPE Reporter, Issue No. 4. The TYPE Reporter is a newsletter about your personality type, and how it influences you in all the stages of life. You can subscribe on the website or by contacting Susan Scanlon, INFJ, Editor, 703-764-5370.
HOW TO MEASURE THE MIX – By Susan Scanlon
I decided to do an issue on team building because I’d heard that term used often among the people who take the MBTI into the workplace. There’s no doubt about it, teamwork is a popular subject in organization development circles. But teamwork was not an idea that excited me at first. In my fantasies, the individual does great things, not the group. I used to cheer on the heroes in the novels of Ayn Rand, who triumphed against that symbol of mediocrity – the committee.
In the few experiences I’ve had working with groups, the argument and discussion went on and on, very little got done, and I was so busy agreeing or disagreeing with others that there was no chance for me to listen to what my own best thoughts were. I’m an American and an Introvert, so it wasn’t going to be easy to convince me that I could produce a better product if I had a wide mix of people messing around with it first. But I’ve listened now to many team members and team consultants and I realize that they’re talking about a different kind of team than Ayn Rand’s or the groups I’ve worked with. They’re talking about a team that can enhance the effectiveness of the individual, that really does improve the final product, and is absolutely essential for success in this very complex and competitive world.
They never played down the difficulty of creating a team that is diverse yet able to work together well, but they made teamwork sound just as dramatic as tales of individual heroism, and worth the work. From dozens of interviews, my team and I selected six team stories. These stories illustrated some of the more common problems a team might have, and how the MBTI can help. We looked for messages in these stories, and from the messages we came up with six questions you might ask yourself about your own team.
The Mix — How To Make It Work
|1. Does your team have a good mix of types? Fill in a type table with the types of our team members. Are all the eight preferences represented? Do you have at least one member who is an ST, SF, NT and NF?
2. If your team does not have a good mix of types, who’s missing? Don’t stop at saying you’re missing an ST. Make a list of all the kinds of input an ST might bring to your team. List the information that is not available to the team.
3. If your team does not have a good mix of types, what can you do to compensate for it? You can hire people in, you can seek outside opinions, or you can invent a team member and think for him. Would an N be able to see the big picture in all of this? Would an S be able to see a practical use for it? What else would a P want to talk about before we make a decision?
|4. Does your team have a positive attitude toward differences? Very often, just the new perspective of the type theory is enough to smooth out a team’s problems considerably.
5. Does everyone on your team contribute their preferences? Are all the Intuitives really sharing their Intuitive perceptions? Do the S’s feel free to express their doubts that something will work, or are they afraid of being called a stick in the mud? If our team isn’t benefiting from all the viewpoints represented, they need to work on creating an atmosphere of trust and acceptance. Or they can try to deliberately draw out people’s preferences. (“I need to run this by you for your Sensing” – says the manager.)
6. Is your team leader open to the contribution of all the members? The team leader can have an enormous influence on whose opinion gets heard and whose opinion gets acted on. It’s important that the team have an impartial leader, or even better, one who knows the positive potential of each member and can draw the group’s attention to that.