Tapping into Your Personality Type to Navigate Changes at Work
 
Sylvia Lane

I have recently been coaching a young woman,” Joyce,” who has been successful at work in the IT industry.  She was challenged intellectually in her role helping clients effectively use her technology services to grow and manage their businesses. She enjoyed being part of her clients’ success as they implemented the ideas and solutions she provided.  Recently, a family member’s illness impacted her and she decided to resign and try doing something different.  She wanted less time devoted to her work and realized how the clients had become dependent upon her always being available.  She was accustomed to working long hours and was even available every weekend if necessary.  Once she stopped this hectic pace, she realized how tired and burned out she had become.

We often coach leaders during times of transition, life changes, such as approaching retirement, or changes in their organizations to step back and reflect on their primary motivators and personality type. Using a personality assessment tool, such as the Myers-Briggs® Type Indicator or DISC®, can help inform their next steps to navigate these changes. I took a similar approach with Joyce to help her create a new path for her career. Joyce had completed the Myers-Briggs® Type Indicator assessment five years ago and identified her personality type as ESTJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking and Judging – for more definitions on the Myers-Briggs types, read Changing Personality Dynamics). While reviewing her results, we determined that she doesn’t have a strong preference for Extroversion or Thinking, which allows for more interest in the reflective activities of Introversion or people-related tendencies of the Feeling personality dichotomies. We used these insights to help her plan for her career changes.

Building on the Strengths of the ESTJ While Adding Feeling and Introversion

Joyce and I also looked at the key strengths of an ESTJ Type.  The ESTJ is an expeditor and is task-oriented to accomplish results as quickly and as efficiently as possible.  They are problem-solvers and trouble-shooters and help clients move forward quickly.  They give clear, direct, open, and honest feedback and clients know where they stand and find this directive approach helpful most of the time.  Her greatest challenges were with clients who needed more time to explore options, wanted to work more on developing rapport before deciding, and resisted taking immediate action when this was recommended.

We experimented with Joyce practicing tapping into the other personality traits of Feeling and Introversion.  It was obvious to me that she was facing a situation with her family member that did not have definite, clear-cut answers.  She needed to be more gentle and compassionate with herself.  She needed to acknowledge that her love for her family member who was facing a possibly life-threatening illness had changed how she saw herself and her work now.

I gave Joyce an assignment to find three jobs that she thought she would like and apply for them and participate in the interview process if she got that far.  Then together we talked about how she felt she would fit into the position based on what we discovered in our review of her personality preferences and current strengths and desire to tap into some of the other personality traits she is drawn to. Specifically, we explored a few questions she needed to answer for herself:

  • How clear was the job description? Did it meet her requirements for what she wanted to do and how she would get compensated for it?
  • How did she expect to feel about the work she would be doing? Would she have more “people time” as well as crunching numbers?
  • What was her plan for re-energizing after work and how would she put that into her schedule?
  • How could she manage her time differently than before?
  • How would her personal life be impacted?
  • How would she deal with clients and/or family and friends whose personality preferences are different and require adjustments?

I have encouraged Joyce to choose a new job that fits her basic personality structure and allows her the ability to tap into her Feeling and Introversion aspects of her personality more.  She needs to have a clearly-defined program with a focus on achieving practical and tangible results while also adapting to working with people who may not be as analytical, logical or comfortable with Joyce’s decision-making, directive or action-oriented approach so she and others can be as successful as possible.

Understanding the Myers-Briggs® personality types has been effective in helping Joyce to move toward success. Have you spent time to learn and understand your personality type and preferences using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or some other similar assessment? How do you use this information to explore and seek new opportunities in work or your social life?  I’d love to hear your perspective, so please share!

With Warm Regards,

Sylvia

 

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