The Myer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is the most widely used personality assessment instrument in the world. More than two million people complete it annually in the world (Robbins & Barnwell, 2008). The reliability of the MBTI instrument for management is supported by over fifty years of research and use, proving to be a reliable tool for management and human resource development, both personal and career counselling, and even for team-building and improving communication.
Comprising 100 personality tests, it assesses how people act and feel in various situations (Michael & William, 2009). MBTI test results present an individual’s personality preferences thus helping individuals better understand themselves and assisting them in making career choices. Possible applications for the MBTI include communication, conflict resolution, personal growth and development, decision making and problem solving (Thompson, 2010, p19).
Also the MBTI helps management to encourage groups of individuals to learn about themselves, each other, and better organize group resources to achieve group goals. On the basis of the answers individuals give to the test, the MBTI classifies individuals into sixteen unique personality based on four dimensions (Robins, 2009). They are Extroverted or Introverted (E or I), Sensing or Intuitive (S or N), Thinking or Feeling (T or F), and Judging or Perceiving (J or P). Extroverted-Introverted – method of functioning.
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Extroverted individuals are outgoing, sociable and assertive, they tend to act, then reflect, and then act again to gather information and reflect on it before arriving at a decision. Introverts are quiet and shy, prefer to reflect, then act, then reflect again to discuss possible alternatives before arriving at a decision (Michael & William, 2009) Sensing-Intuitive - how individuals take in information. Individuals who are sensing are more likely focus on detail and what is actually present, are practical and prefer routine and order. They always trust their xperience and focus on what is real here and now. By contrast, individuals who prefer intuition rely on unconscious processes and tend to trust information that is more abstract or theoretical, to focus more on implications and inferences, to look at the “big picture” to gather information (Robins, 2009). Thinking-Feeling - how individuals make decision. Those who prefer thinking are more logical, causal, and more consistent in their perspective. They measure decision by what seems reasonable and tend to use an analytical approach to problem solving.
Conversely, those who prefer feeling tend to introduce their own values and emotions into the decision making process. However, where situations differ, their value and emotion can be variable. Therefore, their decision-making is based on the situation and their emotional involvement in that situation (Mohammad, 2009). Judgment-perceiving - individual’s lifestyle. Judgment types desire control and prefer their worlds to be orderly, planned and scheduled – everything in its place. By contrast, those who are perception orientated prefer an open, flexible, and unstructured lifestyle (Michael & William, 2009).
According to the research by McCare and John (2002) strong relation exists between individual personality and performance in teams. The four dimensions can classify individuals into sixteen personality type. ESTJs are the organisers in the team. They are realistic, practical and prefer order, like use reason and logic to handle problems. They have a natural head for business or group dynamics. Consequently, they like to organise and run activities (Carlopio & Andrewartha, 2008). INTJs are the monitors and the evaluators in the team.
They usually have original minds and strongly focus on their own ideas and purposes. Additionally, they are critical, independent, determined and often stubborn. The ENTPs are conceptualisers. They are individualistic, versatile and focus on innovation. They are innovative in solving challenging problems, but may neglect routine assignments. According to the research, 13 business people who create super-successful firms such as Microsoft, Apple Computer, Sony, FedEX and Honda Motors found that all 13 were intuitive thinkers (Robins, 2009).
This result is especially interesting because MBTI suggests only 5% of the population are intuitive thinkers. In addition, while more and more people are using MBTI in Australia today, simultaneously the number of users is starting to rise in some Asian countries as well (Henry, 2010). The MBTI is mainly used in organisations including banks, hospitals, IT firms, universities, emergency service, finance companies, MNC and even the Australian Defence Forces (Robins, 2009).
The results from these organisations reveal that, in general, HR managers and educated managers tend to have higher intuition scores. On the contrary, manager in high regulated organisations such as the police, armed forces and financial management tend to have lower scores in intuition (Mohammad, 2009). Example At the beginning of my university life, I experienced course selection mistake. I chose accounting for my major simply because I thought I was good at mathematic. Unfortunately, I didn't understand my personality very well.
After one semester, I realised accounting was not an appropriate subject for me. I’m not a conscientious person, I always leave my belongings around, often forget to put things back in their proper place and make a mess of everything, often being not well prepared before class. Further, I don't pay attention to details and frequently neglect routine assignments. Consequently, the formal demands of accounting are not suitable for me. However, having finished the MBTI test, I found I’m an ENTP type person, which “openness to experience” person.
I’m always optimistic about life and even in a difficult environment, I regard new things as challenges and widening my experience, which means I don't give up readily. I don't perceive such things as failures and losses and am not upset by such events. Secondly, I’m an imaginative person. I have diverse interests. I like trying and exploring new things and challenging new environments, so I always look forward to discovering new things. Thirdly, I have excellent ideas, spend time reflecting on things, and constantly try to search for ways to improve my previous ideas (MBTI test).
Consequently, I changed my major to Economics, a subject better suited to my personality. Recommendation Both managers and employees need to understand the benefits of using the MBTI (Michael & William, 2009). From the manager’s point of view, MBTI can improve management skills; enhance inter-organisation communication and developmental efforts. From the employee’s viewpoint, an understanding of individual’s personalities can help organisations reduce group conflict, improve work relations and team development, further achieve a positive work environment, and increase work-group performance and productivity (John, 2008).
In addition, the more MBTI is appropriately used in an organisation, the more the management would see its value (Roselle, 2009). When the MBTI is used frequently in conjunction with other management skills, it helps individuals to gather the insight they need for personal growth and development, to achieve decision making and resolve problem skills, and to help groups better understand themselves and each other in a team environment and different situation (Peter & Garry, 2004).
Finally, having gained the feedback from using the MBTI instrument, a careful analysis of the information helps in arriving at fresh policy decision. Belbin (2006) found that groups with mixed roles can be more productive than other groups. It means different personal and professional roles have their own characteristic; this can bring many benefits if a group contains a mixture of personality types, each type filling a particular role in the dynamics of the group.
For instance, having completed the MBTI test, I understood myself very well, my personal characteristic, my strengths and my weaknesses. Consequently, a design group manager has invited me to join his group on the basis of my personal strengths, thus complementing the strengths of the group, all of us having previously done the MBTI test. I found we all have different group professional roles, Member “A” is always focused on the task, is highly motivated to achieve goals and influences group members to achieve goals more smoothly.
Member “B” is a good listener and supporter, friendly to everyone, helps group member to resolve destructive conflicts, and facilitate group cooperation. Member “C” is an enthusiastic person who always encourages group members to explore new ideas and problem solving skills. As we talk in a comfortable environment, our group relationship has improved, leading us to communicate more with other group members. Thus our work-group performance and productivity have increased.
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