Often when we’re frustrated at work, it’s not so much because of the company we work for, but rather the specific role we’re in. Personality type, as described by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® instrument (MBTI®), offers insight into certain preferences—particularly for how we take in information and make decisions, which heavily contribute to on-the-job satisfaction. The more we work within our preferences, the more energized and less drained we’ll feel.
As discussed in my previous post, your current job may not map well to your preferences. However, if the broader company culture is more in line with who you are and your personality, pursuing a new role within the organization might be preferable to looking elsewhere for employment.
Just as personality types describe human beings, you can in fact “type” a company, department, or role by observing how information is gathered and decisions are made.. Use personality type as a guide for determining a better fitting role—looking at what is not only required of an individual, but also what skills and attributes are most sought after in various departments.
Identifying What You Really Want to Do
Children are often asked: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” In seeking a new role within your company, a better question to ask yourself is: “What do you want to do?” By discovering the kinds of tasks and responsibilities that line up with your core motivators, you can more accurately identify a more satisfying role within your current company.
According Allen L. Hammer in “Introduction to Type® and Careers,” you can begin by asking yourself:
- What do I want to do on a day-to-day basis?
- Where do I want to be in one, five or ten years?
- What kind of people do I want to work with?
- What kind of working environment do I find most comfortable?
- What kind of working environment allows me to be most productive?
- What motivates me to do my best?
Regarding this last point, while preferences for Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) describe how we make decisions, Sensing (S) and Intuition (N) describe the types of information that we base those decisions on, and the combination of these indicates what will most motivate us at work:
- ST: achieving bottom line results
- SF: offering practical service
- NF: making a meaningful difference
- NT: improving the system.
Research shows that people actually self-select into occupations that coincide with these middle letter preferences. For example, if you have an F preference, you may experience great satisfaction in a role where you get to help or support other people. This can manifest itself in a number of ways—helping customers, mentoring, serving on an advisory board, improving society, or making the world a better place.
Additionally, for those with a preference for Feeling, keep in mind that the overall result of your work can also affect your ultimate level of job satisfaction. For instance, you may find that even though you’re not spending as much time performing “helping-type” tasks in your day-to-day activities, you could still be energized by a job that ultimately contributes to a greater good for people. If you work for Habitat for Humanity or at a university, even though your day-to-day activities might not involve direct “helping” activities, knowing you’re a cog in the wheel that makes a difference in peoples’ lives may be enough to keep you energized.
Molding Your Own Role
If you have a preference for Sensing and Thinking, yet find yourself in a position that requires a lot of one-on-one counseling, you may want to seek out a position that allows you to conduct data analysis with an emphasis on the here and now, or even seek out these types of responsibilities within your current job.
For example, I often work with career counselors who have preferences for ST, but their profession requires them to frequently use their non-preferred Intuition and Feeling functions. Although they usually report that they like their jobs overall, they also say their jobs are very draining and frustrating when they spend too many hours in a direct helping role. However, if they’re able to seek out activities that allow them to work within their natural preferences, such as analyzing career assessments, critiquing resumes, running the office operations or managing departmental technology, they can achieve a renewed enthusiasm for their roles.
In general, if you can cherry pick enough activities that match your own preferences and integrate them into your daily role, you will be much more satisfied and energized in your current position.
Having the Patience to Work Your Way Up
Sometimes there’s not an immediate solution because developing the skills and expertise to operate in certain roles takes time.
If you have a preference for Thinking, for example, you may enjoy logical objective decision making, and like to look for what is wrong with the system so you can fix it. The question is, are you far along enough in your career to initiate and implement change? Let’s face it, most teams don’t take well to junior-level employees telling them what’s wrong with what they’re doing, regardless of how on-point their advice may be.
In some cases, you may have to stick it out for a while, building your level of expertise and influence before you are able to take on more of a “fixer” role. You may experience frustration along the way, as you’ll likely witness incompetence in both leaders and peers that you would like to “fix,” but don’t have the power to do anything about it, yet. Instead, use your current position to gain the expertise and, eventually, the level of authority to implement change, so you can grow into a role that you’ll find very satisfying and allows you to do what comes most naturally.