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You're just (not my) type: harnessing the power of Myers-Briggs type indicator.


In June, 1959, IREM published a paper entitled, HOW TO UNDERSTAND EMPLOYEES. In it, IREM Research Director, J. Earnest Kuehner, wrote:

Too often an employer fails to understand that when he hires a person as a member of the management team he has acquired a rather complex machine ... The employer must go beyond the business of working with hardware, elevators, machines, tools and heating plants and work in the more complex area of human interaction. To do this in an adequate manner he needs to find out what are some of the basic factors in human behavior.

Although written almost 60 years ago, Keuhner's statement still holds true. The higher real estate managers climb on the career ladder, the less they manage properties--instead they manage people who manage properties.

Many supervisors don't try to understand their employees, they simply abide by the Golden Rule: Treat others as you would have them treat you. Unfortunately, this rule usually ends up causing more problems than solutions. It only works if the supervisor and employee have the same personality types and behavioral needs--which is rarely the case. A better practice is the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they want to be treated. As Keuhner put it, "In all cases of dealing with other people effectively, the ability to understand the other person's feelings, to put yourself in his place, is a key factor."

The tricky part is deciphering how a person wants to be treated. Some employees like detailed instructions for how to do something. Others prefer being given an overall "vision" of what needs to be accomplished and then the autonomy and authority to figure out how to complete the task. Some employees like collaborative opportunities and working on teams. Others like to work alone, uninterrupted by coworkers or outside influences.

You can always talk with your employees to help understand what motivates them and their preferred work styles. However, that doesn't always work--we don't have the time, we misread people or employees are not very forthcoming in sharing their needs and preferences. Many companies have turned to psychological testing to identify workplace needs. The theory is that knowing your personality type, and those of others, helps you interact more effectively with colleagues/employees.

There are many psychological assessment tools to choose from. The best known assessment is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator0 (MBTI0)1. Used for over 70 years, 1.5 million MBTI assessments are administered annually to individuals, including employees of most Fortune 500 companies. Over 10,000 companies, 2,500 colleges and universities and 200 government agencies in the U.S. use the assessment.

The MBTI occasionally comes under fire in terms of validity and usefulness. This usually results from misunderstanding the purpose and use of the instrument. It was never intended to measure abilities or skills, and should not be used to "qualify" someone for a specific position--or to "judge" how well someone might perform in any given situation. It only identifies personality "preferences," or behavioral tendencies. There is no right or wrong to these preferences. Each identifies normal and valuable human behaviors. An analogy is thinking about whether a person is "right-handed" or "left-handed." We can use either hand when we have to, and use both hands regularly. But for writing or other things, one hand is preferred and is used more naturally and competently. Using our non-preferred hand requires more effort and may feel awkward.

The more you use your non-preferred hand, the easier it gets to use it. People who have had their preferred hand broken often learn to use their non-preferred hand as easily and naturally as the other. It's the same with the MBTI preferences. We all use both ends of the four scales all the time. A person with a "feeling" preference can still make logical, objective decisions--just as a person with a "thinking" preference can consider values, and the impact on people in making decisions. But when we use our preferred methods, we are generally at our best and feel most competent, natural and energetic.

When used properly, the MBTI is useful for self-understanding, relationship building, team building and appreciating diversity. There is no "best type." In fact, a workplace filled with all preference types creates a more productive, creative environment. The biggest value of the MBTI is in creating a non-threatening, non-judgmental environment where differences can be discussed. It allows people to talk about how they differ, and how they prefer to work and communicate without having to be defensive. The value doesn't come from labeling people by their four-letter type, but from allowing people to explore each other's preferences and ways they want to be treated.

Consider an introvert employee and an extrovert boss. If the boss raises a new issue in a meeting, the introvert will tend to be quiet and not contribute much. The boss might think the introvert is not very creative or engaged. More likely, the introvert prefers to think things through before responding; contributing their thoughts after having time to process. It's important to provide introverts with an agenda prior to the meeting, with enough background information so they can internalize and be prepared to contribute. Introverts can think off the "top-of-their head," but thinking out loud doesn't come as naturally to them.

I can personally attest to the value of the MBTI. A new colleague and I would often clash. I thought she was too inflexible and short-sighted. She thought I was too open-ended and not as detail oriented or scheduled as she liked. Then we both attended the same MBTI certifying class. In learning about the different, but normal, preferences people have we realized that we were not intentionally trying to make each other's life miserable--we were just different. We came to understand each other, and learned how to collaborate using our different preferences to help each other become more effective. She helped me be more detail oriented, and I helped her be more open-minded and able to consider new options.

By understanding a person's behavioral preferences, and his or her desired work environment, you can adapt your behavioral tendencies to fulfill the Platinum Rule: Treat people the way they want to be treated. You will create better relationships with your employees (or clients, tenants/residents, vendors, friends and family), and a more productive workplace.

Just remember, if an employee is "just not your type," that might be a good thing.



Extraversion (E)--Extraverts prefer the outer world of people and activity. They direct their attention outward and receive energy from Interacting with people and taking action.

Introversion (I)--Introverts prefer their own Inner world of Ideas and experiences. They direct their attention Inward and receive energy from reflecting on their thoughts, memories and feelings.


Sensing (S)--Sensing people prefer taking in Information that Is real and tangible--what Is actually happening. They are observant about the specifics of what Is going on around them and are especially attuned to practical realities.

Intuition (N)--Intuitive people prefer taking In Information by seeing the big picture, focusing on the relationships and connections between facts. They want to grasp patterns and are especially attuned to seeing new possibilities.


Thinking (T)--People who use a "thinking" preference In decision making prefer looking at the logical consequences of a choice or action. They tend to be very objective In analyzing the pros and cons of the situation. Their goal Is to find a standard that will apply In all similar situations.

Feeling (F)--People who use a "feeling" preference In decision making prefer considering what Is Important to them and to others Involved. They tend to make decisions based on their values about honoring people. Their goal Is to create harmony.


Judging (J)--Judgers prefer living In a planned, orderly way, seeking to regulate and manage their lives. They like to be structured, organized and have things decided. Sticking to a plan and schedule Is Important.

Perceiving (P)--Perceivers prefer living In a flexible, spontaneous way, seeking to experience life rather than control It. Detailed plans and final decisions feel confining. They prefer to stay open to new options.


Founded In 1978, Sunrise Management, AMO, ( Is a privately owned San Diego-based firm specializing In the management of residential real estate properties. The firm currently has regional offices In Sacramento, Las Vegas and Phoenix, overseeing more than 13,000 multifamily units throughout California and the Southwest.

Sunrise Management Is using the MBTI to enhance the leadership competencies of its staff. According to Joseph Greenblatt, CPM, president and CEO of Sunrise Management:

"We are using MBTI as a core leadership development tool. It provides baseline data for our leadership team members, enhancing their self-awareness; a fundamental leadership competency. At the same time, the personality Insights and preferences the MBTI reports provide are invaluable as we strive to practice the Platinum Rule: Treating people the way they want to be treated. As leaders collaborate among themselves, with their direct reports and other team members, understanding those preferences advances good communication and teamwork, two other key leadership competencies."

(1) The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, and MBTI are trademarks or registered trademarks of the MBTI Trust, Inc., in the United Stales and other countries. The MBTI is published by CPP, Inc.. 1055 Joaquin Rd.. Suite 200. Mountain View, GA 94043. (800-624-1765),

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Comment:You're just (not my) type: harnessing the power of Myers-Briggs type indicator.
Author:Gjerde, Ron
Publication:Journal of Property Management
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2016
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