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What’s Your Type?
Relationships drive progress. Relationships also provide us with a meaningful life. Relationships predict our happiness in retirement, have the ability to impact global change, and increase productivity in the workplace. There’s also an entire marketing discipline — Customer Relationship Management — dedicated to fostering the relationships brands form with their customers.
Now, that’s a lot of consequence for something as simple as “the way people behave toward each other”. But how often do we sit down to truly reflect on our relationships? How seriously do we take our own relationships, let alone those found on our teams?
This might seem like a story told one too many times. But rather than harping on the importance of relationships — you know that already — it’s worth focusing on how you can leverage insight into team members’ personalities to build stronger relationships, and ultimately develop a world-class marketing team.
In order to better understand this, we need to dig a little deeper, to the level of individual personalities. For that, we may turn to a psychiatrist by the name of Carl Jung.
A PERSONALITY TEST
Almost 100 years ago, Jung developed a way of categorizing people into primary types of psychological function. He coined eight different psychological types, each on two dimensions. His thought process was that, similar to right- or left-handedness, people are born with a preferred way of perceiving and deciding. That’s not to say they can’t change their ways, but there exist strong, innate preferences.
A few years later, a woman named Katharine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Myers, began researching personalities. What drives people to make the decisions they make? Why do some individuals react to problems one way, and others another? Can these decisions and reactions be predicted? Jung’s book provided Briggs and Myers with a wealth of information. After extensively studying this and other work, they decided to turn these theories into a coherent, practical framework.
Today, their work is known as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). With 16 different personalities, the test is meant to bring to light psychological preferences — again, these are malleable — in how individuals perceive the world and make decisions.
Let’s take a closer look at these 16 personalities. The MBTI exists on four dimensions, each with two options:
- Extraversion (draw energy from the outside world) vs. Introversion (draw energy by being alone)
- Sensing (prefer facts, detail-oriented, practical) vs. INtuition (prefer abstract theories, big-picture thinking)
- Thinking (prefer logical decision-making and keeping things impersonal) vs. Feeling (prefer to weigh what others care about, establish harmony)
- Judging (prefer lists, like when things are planned, organized, and decisions are made) vs. Perceiving (prefer staying flexible, spontaneous, keeping options open)
Any given individual will prefer one form over another within each function. So, for example, you might have someone who prefers Extraversion, INntuition, Feeling, and Judging. This individual would type as an ENFJ. Extrapolate this, and you end up with 16 personality types:
WHERE’S THE VALUE?
It might seem a little ridiculous that, with over seven billion people on Earth, we think we can categorize everyone into just one of 16 personality buckets. But that’s precisely the point: the MBTI is meant to provide an easy, initial approach to interactions. How will Bill react if I present him with a problem? If he’s an INTP (Introverted, INtuition, Thinking, Perceiving), likely he’ll prefer to approach it thoughtfully and analytically over a long period of time.
Hopefully you’ll start to see how this can become incredibly valuable when it comes to hiring or building out a team. In fact, teams where individuals have a strong ability to detect the emotional states of others perform better. Understanding your team’s personality types is a great place to start. Certainly, this test can’t tell you if someone is nice or funny, or a culture fit, or values what you value — really, no test can do that. But what this test can tell you is if an individual has analytical versus creative tendencies, if they prefer extraversion over introversion, and so on.
AN ADDITIONAL LAYER
Psychologist David Keirsey built on the MBTI and developed 16 correlated “temperaments”. These were designed to better help inform individuals on their preferred roles and functions on a team, methods of thinking, and so on. If we take Keirsey’s temperaments, it becomes even clearer what function this kind of personality typing can play on a team.
So, where have we landed? There exists a test that types people in terms of their preferred decision-making, roles, and interactions. But practically, what does this mean for you? (yes, I am an SJ and prefer practical logistics.)
- MANAGEMENT: If you take this to heart, take the test, and read up on your type, you’ll be able to hone in on your strengths and weaknesses. Not only that, you’ll discover how you can best manage a team, what skills you might need to develop, and what management style suits you best.
- LEVERAGING OTHERS: If you continue to read up on the 16 types, you’ll start developing an eye for recognizing the four functions among family, friends, and co-workers. If you’re able to recognize your co-worker is a P (Perceiving) rather than a J (Judging), you’ll stop expecting him or her to be on time. Or if you notice your mentor is an N (INtuitive) rather than an S (Sensing), you’ll go to him or her for those “big picture” conversations and advice.
- HIRING: As you become well-versed in the MBTI, you’ll be able to make more effective hiring decisions. Not only that, once you’ve hired an individual, you’ll know precisely what skills you’ll want them to develop and how best to approach that development with them.
YOUR MARKETING TEAM
Lastly, what does this mean for your marketing team? Well, you need to build a well-balanced team. The core function of marketing is to support the business by helping turn organizations into brands, building brand memory and salience, and being the creative engine of the organization. Marketing, in particular, requires both the big-picture visionaries and the detail-oriented realists, the logicians and the harmonists.
So how can the MBTI help build a team that will create memorable, creative work? By sourcing a good balance of personality types. If you place team members in roles that play to their preferences, you’ll end up with happier, more productive, and more effective employees.
The problems marketing teams set out to solve year after year are becoming increasingly complex. While the technological revolution has brought about great efficiencies, it has also made marketing challenges harder to crack. As such, diversity on teams is more important than ever.
Personality tests — and there exist many more outside the MBTI — are valuable in that they give you a snapshot of individuals’ deep-seated preferences. Indeed, psychological types are incredibly difficult to change. But chances are, your organization isn’t in the business of changing employees’ innate preferences. Instead, the goal is to hire employees that culturally fit your values and needs from the get-go. This is where typing can become valuable: map out your functional roles early and thoroughly, ensuring a happy, compatible, and productive marketing team.