There was a time when people entered the workforce knowing that they would be treated pretty much as interchangeable corporate drones for the rest of their working lives. Fortunately, today companies are increasingly interested in understanding—and categorizing—personalities. And the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, which was developed by a mother/daughter team of researchers in 1944, became the gold standard for figuring out personality types.
You’ve probably taken a Myers-Briggs test at some point, and found it enlightening. If not, stop reading and take it now. Come back with your results when you’re done.
Who are you, anyway?
We’ve all encountered a variety of office personalities, and learned, often through trial and error, how to work with different types of people. Maybe you’ve learned never to talk to your co-worker before she’s had her first cup of coffee, or perhaps you know a colleague who is going to be so full of ideas that the meeting run long. Or you’ve learned that your boss doesn’t appreciate being put on the spot at a meeting—she prefers time to prepare her answers.
The Myers-Briggs test is designed to get the root of this problem, quantifying and demystifying personality types through a series of questions, and answers:
- Are you an introvert or extrovert? That score gives you your first letter: I for introverted, or E for extroversion.
- Whether you’re a thinking or feeling type, that is, do you think with your head or your heart? From that, you get your second letter, T or F.
- Are you more likely to make a snap judgment, or take a wait and see attitude? That’s your judging or perceiving score, or letters J or P.
- Do you follow your instincts or only what you can literally see before you? Your Myers-Briggs score will tell you whether you tend toward sensing (S), or intuition (N).
These concepts fascinated Evernote Certified Consultant Enrico Nahler, who believes that people work better within Evernote if they interact with information in a way that matches their personality type. He helps his clients understand Myers-Briggs, and how to customize Evernote for work styles that best suit them.
Grouping the groups
With so many personality styles, others have found it easier to group them into fewer personality types using the DISC test. DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness, Enrico uses this test to group similar Myers-Briggs scores together. You might never expect to find common ground between introverts and extroverts, but using this complementary test, “Let’s take a look at the ‘D’ type,” Enrico begins. “D stands for several ‘D’ words: Dominant. Direct. Demanding. Decisive. Determined. These people are typically outgoing and task oriented.”
D is for decisiveness—but not details
D-types, or ‘dominance’ types, typically fall into Myers-Briggs as ISTP or ESTP, ISFP, or ESFP,” he explains. “These are the types of people who end up on company boards or in leadership roles.”
- Bulleted lists
- High-level ideas
- Big-picture scenarios
- Action-oriented speech—what can they do right now?
There is one ‘D’ that Enrico says this type has no interest in: details. So when working with someone in one of these groups, keep your communications simple, and easily digestible. Spare them the trivia.
Video: Create a Checklist in Evernote>>
Influencing the Influencers
I-types, or ‘influencers’, are diplomat types that map to Myers-Briggs INFJ, ENFJ, INFP, and ENFP types. Using popular literature and culture, you can look to the Harry Potter series to find a classic Influencer in ENFJ Dumbledore, and, if you prefer a Star Wars metaphor, in classic INFJ Obi-Wan Kenobi. I-types are, according to Enrico, “influencing, impressive, and interested.” These people, he continues, are charismatic spokespeople and natural communicators and diplomats.
Influencers are most satisfied with:
- Quick and structured information about the topics at hand and the people they’ll be speaking with.
- CRM-like templates that provide names, technical data, how a person is involved with a company or project.
- Photos, diagrams, and as much information about individuals as possible.
Too little information, Enrico warned, will make people in these groups feel unprepared. Too much information can befuddle them. But since their natural calling is to bring people together, giving them the details in structured formats will make them feel comfortable enough to absorb and act on the material happily.
Dashboards for Sentinels
The S-type—aptly named for their “steady” nature, is, according to the DISC test, supportive, stable, sensitive, fans of the status quo, or sentinels. They are the specialists. S-types, Enrico says, tend to be people who value responsibility and commitments, and score as a Myers-Briggs type ISFJ. “People who fall into this one group tend to be dentists, librarians, nurses, elementary school teachers, accountants, franchise owners,” Enrico explained.
This type of person:
- Works best within a predefined set of rules
- Need checklists and dashboards
- Work well with systems
- Like to make order of chaos
As an example, he mentions teachers. “Teachers need to keep lesson plans,” Enrico says. “They can keep a whole year’s worth of lessons in Evernote, in a single dashboard note, with links out to the actual materials. Then, they can follow the plan and check each lesson off when it’s done.” Once the teacher completes a lesson, he or she just checks off the lesson in the dashboard.”
Take a look at Enrico’s video on how to create an Evernote dashboard >>
C for “Customized”
Task-oriented, more reserved personalities, often software developers, creatives, and bankers are people who tend to want to do things their own way, and quietly bristle against the tyranny of forms and systems. The are the C-types, or the Myers-Briggs INTJ, INTP, ENTJ, and ENTPs. Enrico calls them contemplative, careful, calculating, and cautious.
People who fall into this category:
- Strive for accuracy and tend to be very thorough
- Need as much information and detail as possible to be effective
- Fear criticism and can take it very hard
- Like to work in free-form environments, without adherence to structured templates or systems
When we compare these traits with someone from the ‘D’ group, it’s easy to see where conflicts happen and coworkers can become frustrated with one another. This is why it’s helpful for us to understand other people’s personality types so we can be better about giving our colleagues with work the way they best approach it.
For example, you may not want to send a detailed report to your ESTP manager. He or she may become frustrated with what they see as unnecessary information—they just want high-level takeaways. On the other side, as a manager, you may find it difficult to get your ENTPs to work happily within a highly-regimented project management system.
Enrico recommends developing templates in Evernote that help each different personality work in a way that makes them the most productive. Sometimes you may need to adapt your work style to better suit someone else—if you’re a freeform-loving C-type, you may want to create dashboards lists for your S-type team member to get the best results. Taking that extra step shows not only a concern and understanding of other people’s personality styles, it shows a willingness to collaborate and work as a team to get things done in an efficient and drama-free way. And that’s something every personality type can agree on.
For more information about Myers-Briggs: Take a free personality test at 16personalities.com.
To take a DISC test: Visit https://www.123test.com/disc-personality-test/