How to Apply MBTI in HR: Motivation for every day

Any manager knows that motivated employees are the key to any company’s success. Yet it’s very difficult to make sure that people, with completely different characters, views, and needs, will share the company’s goals and work together to implement them.


Motivating employees is a process of identifying their motives, i.e. what stimulates and encourages their effective work. In fact, motivation is one of the main functions of management. A modern leader no longer relies only on material remuneration, as there are many different approaches to motivation issues. True enough, even having such examples, it’s very difficult to understand an employee’s true motives. The right type of motivation depends on many things such as their goals or needs. However, in all honesty we often look for less difficult methods to apply. It is not easy to use book knowledge to understand the motivation of subordinates point by point, when it’s necessary to motivate "here and now" and often "here and yesterday".

For everyday work, it is good to have a simple, fast, and at the same time effective, method at your disposal. It’s this method that I am going to introduce to you now. In this article, I describe a model that practical managers might like. It is based on the use of elements of the Myers-Briggs typology, also known as MBTI. In this model, four basic types of motivation are described – status, well-being, uniqueness, and intrinsic value. By knowing which type team members fall under, each manager will be able to more easily motivate them.


MBTI is a Test for 4 Types of People

For those who have not heard about MBTI, I will make a brief introduction. American researchers Catherine Briggs and Isabel Briggs-Myers developed their typology based on the works of Carl Gustav Jung for career guidance of American women and demobilized military after the Second World War. This methodology has many followers and also some critics. The Myers-Briggs test presumably allows you to determine a person's inclination to a certain type of activity, behavioral characteristics, business qualities, preferred mode of work, as well as strengths and weaknesses.

Despite the criticism, the MBTI technique continues to be used in practical work, for example in career consulting, coaching, and educational courses (e.g. an MBA). Perhaps the secret of this phenomenon is that this system is quite holistic, practical, and convenient to work with. It does not affect the clinical aspects of psychology and provides an understanding of people and how they can apply themselves.

MBTI is a test of a person's compliance on four scales, each of which has two poles:

  1. Orientation to society, activity (E) or orientation to the inner world, reflexivity (I)
  2. Concrete perception of the world (S) or abstract perception of the world (N)
  3. Makes decision based on norms and rules (T) or on emotions, feelings, attitudes (F)
  4. Orderly actions and judgments (J) or the ability to adapt to circumstances (P)

When all options are combined, 16 different types are formed. They are described in detail both by Myers & Briggs themselves, and by their followers. Each type is designated by four letters. For example, ENTP stands for Extroverted Intuitive Thinking Perceiving.

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How to Quickly Identify the Type by MBTI

It would be problematic for a beginner to properly identify the types just by looking at a person, without a test. However, the process is greatly simplified if we need to highlight not four, but only two features. By using only two of the four parameters, for example, E/I and N/S, we can get four groups that can be used in the motivational model.

With a little preparation, within a couple of weeks you will be able to train your perception to determine which type people fall under.

Let’s consider the pair E/I first. Or to put it in more simple terms, extroverts and introverts. Often extroverts are considered to be sociable people, and people who are not that sociable tend to be automatically considered s introverts. In reality, other things are more important. You should remember that each person has both sides, but one of them prevails.

  • Type E views the world as a collection of objects. To recharge, such people need to mingle with others and communicate. They think by speaking their thoughts out loud
  • Type I is more attentive to their inner world, so to restore energy they tend to retire. Before speaking, they carefully articulate all thoughts in their mind. Their gaze is less active, as if directed inward

Now let’s look at the pair S/N. In society, it is generally considered that S type people have a better chance for success. They are more practical, pragmatic and concrete, whereas the Type N in childhood are known to “have their head in the clouds”. However, there are areas in business where N type people are indispensable. It is innovation, strategic research, forecasting, and similar areas where people of the S type lack imagination and creativity. As in the previous example, each person has signs of both types, but one of them prevails.

  • Type S does more, dreams less. Their judgments are specific, substantive. They feel their body well, their movements are confident. S men can be easily identified by a handshake - they squeeze the palm firmly and tightly, as if feeling the force of the squeeze
  • Type N is more unfocused and in the clouds. In conversation, they often talk a lot about plans and concepts. They often feel insecure, tend to accept others taking care of them

Try to remember all people you know and correlate them with these descriptions. You will see that this is quite easy, which means that you can have a better understanding of what motivates them.

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