Each year, more than two million people take the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator—a personality test based on Carl Jung’s psychological archetypes. Although the test has received some criticism, universities, career coaches, the federal government, and 88 of the Fortune 100 companies continue to use the MBTI as a management tool.
One challenge with Myers-Briggs and similar tests, however, is translating test results into actionable steps. You may find out that you are an INTJ or ENFP, but then what? Deciding how or what to focus on gets trickier when you assess your workstyle in relation to your colleagues’ or boss’s style.
In Managing Up, Mary Abbajay identifies 15 boss archetypes that are easy to identify and remember. These archetypes provide a framework for understanding management styles and how to most effectively work with those styles.
Similar to Myers-Briggs, Abbajay explores the important differences between introverts and extroverts when it comes to their workplace style. However, Abbajay’s approach goes beyond personal understanding to help readers recognize their managers’ drivers and motivations.
As its title suggests, Managing Up focuses on optimizing employees’ working relationship with their immediate supervisors, but the techniques can also apply to relationships with colleagues, customers, or other important stakeholders. Abbajay’s approach starts with the observation that we cannot dictate others’ actions, but can control our behavior. In fact, she encourages readers to take ownership over their own behavior to improve the working environment.
One key to doing this is to understand the perception gap: We judge our actions by our intentions, but we judge others’ actions by the results.
In a recent workshop at the MorganFranklin Consulting offices, Abbajay outlined the perception gap with an example everyone could understand. She asked, “What do you think when someone cuts you off in traffic?” An expletive was the most common response in the room. Then she asked, “What do you think when you cut someone off?” People responded: “Sorry”; “I’m new to this city”; or “I couldn’t help it.” The difference between these two perspectives lies at the heart of many frustrations in work environments.
Abbajay offers concrete steps to bridge the perception gap by outlining actions that might affect us and then drawing a line back to the intentions behind those actions. For example, are you frustrated that your boss seems to always change her mind? This might be because she is the impulsive boss archetype, with an orientation toward creativity or being easily bored. Once you understand the source of this boss’s behavior, you can use simple strategies, such as appreciating intentions or listening to ideas, before offering gentle reality checks (or reacting in frustration).
This approach puts you in the driver’s seat. And when you improve your relationship with your boss, you can help your team become more efficient and effective and advance your career.
If you or your team struggle to make making the most of your diverse workstyles, MorganFranklin’s Human Capital consulting services can help. We work with companies on change management, human resources transformation, talent advisory, or organizational development work.