There has been a lot of talk about temperament these days and it reminded me of when I discovered mine. It happened when my boss called me into his office and shared with me that one of my employees had told him that I was difficult to work for because I was controlling, unwilling to let my employees have the freedom to do things the way they wanted, and a micromanager. I was in shock and disappointed. Why did my employee feel that she could not come to me and express her feelings? Why hadn’t my boss sent her back to me to discuss the issues rather than call me in directly to discuss something he was told? Did my boss think these things too? Now what must I do?
Immediately, I reached out to my HR Consultant, who I enjoyed working with because he was knowledgeable, experienced, objective, and good at guiding you in developing appropriate strategies. Luckily he was at his desk and had time to talk. I explained the situation and together we mapped out my strategy.
Consultant: “Let’s begin Pat, my finding out your personality preferences and temperament. I’m going to send over an assessment tool and it will give us some useful information that will help shed some light into the situation at hand.”
I love measuring so that sounded like a great place to start. The tool arrived and it was the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). [The MBTI is used by eighty-nine of the US Fortune 100 companies, and over two and a half million Americans take it annually. The tool identifies 16 different personality types and 4 temperaments.] I took it immediately and returned to my consultant. Within days, he was in my office ready to review my results with me and discuss next steps.
Here is a small example of what I learned about myself to illustrate the impact that knowing more about myself had upon me.
- Extravert which means I get energized from outside of myself. I love talking, invading others space. This can be challenging to others who get their energy from within and like their privacy.
- Intuitive which means I make sense out of information from sensing. This can be challenging to others who need the details.
- Thinking which means my decision making is all about logic, cause and effect. This can be challenging to those who consider others in their decision making.
- Judging which means I love structure and order. This can come across as controlling to others who like to explore options and possibilities.
- NT Temperament which means I am a person who loves to ask “why?” Why is an evaluative question that sometimes puts others on the defensive.
I found the information invaluable and then wanted to have all my staff to complete the MBTI so that I could have a better understanding of their preferences. This would help me to better manage our interactions. As it turned out most of my employees’ preferences were the opposite of mine. No wonder there were issues! My consultant also helped me to understand that with any new hires, I needed to make sure my team was more diverse in their preferences.
What I learned about my preferences and temperament has helped me to better navigate relationships with people. I know that I cannot control others but I can control myself. So it becomes important for me to flex when I interact with types that are different from me. By the way my temperament also focuses on insights about organizations and systems. No wonder I love my consulting work that has taken me into over 125 different organizations!
The MBTI may not be for you. But I hope that today’s blog inspires you to self-assess and recognize that your temperament has an impact on others. Sometimes because of our temperament we don’t get our desired results. But knowing our temperament equips us to be more effective in managing and having productive relationships with others.