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ENFJ Preferences at Work


ENFJ Preferences at Work

“Warm, supportive, and friendly, ENFJs work well when they can focus on people’s aspirations, develop organized plans to meet goals, and maintain integrity as they work.”(1)

With every new project I work on, every new team I meet in a workshop, every new client I coach with, I try to establish a connection. I open up, heart on sleeve. I may share private information, in an effort to make the other people comfortable to share a bit of themselves with me, too. I hardly even think about it. It’s not a calculated attempt to manipulate, it’s an expression of my extraverted Feeling function wanting to harmonize and connect with others.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it backfires.

As a young Executive Assistant in Spain, I received this piece of advice:

“You really shouldn’t be so friendly with everybody. You should be guarding (your boss) a lot more! You can’t just let anyone in who needs to see him. You need to say “no” more.”

That was a tough pill to swallow, because concentrating on the needs of only one person on a team of, say, 20, significantly narrowed my mood barometer. It’s true, at the time, before learning about emotional intelligence, self-regulating, and simply becoming more mature, my moods often depended on the people around me. When you’re a sucker for positive feedback (and a glutton for punishment), putting all the connection eggs in only one basket is dangerous.

More recently as a self-employed coach and trainer, I find that I indeed find tremendous joy in making plans on how to reach goals. My friends make fun of how many notebooks I buy (I have 3 paper calendars on the go right now, plus Charlie Gilkey’s blog and project planners online), but I use all of them – and even keep most of the information straight. It’s fun to map out what I want to be doing over the next 30, 60, 90 days. What seemed overwhelming looks a lot less daunting and more doable once it’s divvied into action steps, black (as well as red, green, purple, orange, and blue) on white. By the same token, what seemed simple in my mind becomes a lot more concrete and tangible once I try to pin down and describe all the moving parts. 

Again, the tone of my self-talk often depends on how much I got done. If the day or week were spent on emergent tasks, I might write down what I already did just to be able to cross something off. The rest will get postponed. 

Of course I get a sense of satisfaction once something is done, no doubt about it. But it’s also true that the older I get, the more easily distracted I seem to be. It’s hard to get motivated by myself: although I know the work I want to offer is valuable and helpful for people, I still need accountability to get things done. Deadlines, actual clients, my accountability teams, and my coach are helping me with that. It truly takes a village.  

Still, the integrity piece I find most important of all.

During my apprenticeship to become a Foreign Language Secretary, I rotated through various departments. I liked HR best, because I loved how fellow apprentices would pop their heads in with questions or issues, and I was able to help them on the spot. Instant gratification and happy customers – what’s not to love? That’s when I decided to study HR Management, motivated in part because I thought I could do it all better than the department was doing things at the time.

I know, that’s an ENFJ cliché right there, but it’s true.

Once I studied HR and started working in recruitment, however, it became clear that my idea of what an organization should be doing for its employees, and what was actually happening in business, were worlds apart. As Otto Kroeger wrote,

“Inevitably, as they accept promotions, they find themselves at odds with corporate realities: profits, productions, cutbacks, and the like. The more ENFJs rise to the loftier positions within the organization, the more they may be setting themselves up for a struggle between their personal demands and organizational demands. (…) Hence, when an ENFJ is present, no matter what the product or mission, the people involved will be important and human dynamic will be made a central part of the process.”(2)

I know now that taking time to reflect on my values and critically analyzing other potential stakeholders’ goals can save me a lot of worry and doubt. Staying true to myself while continuing to maintain harmony with others is a lifelong quest, and one that I love exploring in the world of work and careers every day - for myself and my clients.

If you have ENFJ preferences and these descriptions resonated with you, why not join me in a webinar specifically for ENFJs and how we can fall in love with our jobs again. You can learn more and sign up here.

(1) Hirsh, Elizabth, Katherine W. Hirsh, Sandra Krebs Hirsh: Introduction to Type® and Teams, 2nd Edition, CPP Inc., 2003

(2) Kroeger, Otto with Janet M. Thuesen: Type Talk at Work – How the 16 Personality Types determine your success on the job, Delacorte Press®, 1992

Image: Vintage National ad, flickr, Creative Commons, by pds209



Managing Your Career Transition with Type

Pic Credit: master isloated images

Pic Credit: master isloated images

Notes from Friday's Career Symposium with Carol Linden (US ENFP) from and Ann Holm (US ENFP) from at the Association for Psychological Type's International Conference.  

I’m not asking you to not be who you are, I’m just asking you to manage it better.
— Otto Kroeger

During a job search process, knowledge of Type can give you essential clues how to

  • Ace interviews
  • Take care of yourself during times of ambiguity

If you have preferences for Introversion, "selling yourself" may feel like a challenge. Remember

  • It ain't braggin' if it's true
  • Recognize that your strengths are unique to you
  • You can help the interviewer see and trust you, so they can hire the most qualified person for the position

All Types need to practice, practice, practice

  • Telling concise stories about your experience in context, highlighting actions, learnings, and results
  • Adapting to the interviewer's style in mock interviews

Losing your job or having to look for a new one when it wasn't your idea can be frustrating. Don't skip the grieving process, acknowledge what you're going through. Honor your preferences by doing what you would normally do, i.e.

  • Extraverts, don't shut yourself in at home - keep socializing and networking
  • Introverts, don't go out and overdo new group activities - keep networking relevant with one-on-one conversations and make time to reflect

Remember, if you're unemployed and stressed, so is your partner / spouse. 

Which tips would you add?


3 Tips to Improve Your Professional Wellbeing


3 Tips to Improve Your Professional Wellbeing

copied from Pinterest
copied from Pinterest

I have worked with dozens of expats and accompanying partners over the years, and I don't know a single one who has seamlessly adapted to the new culture's leadership, team work, and communication style. The hiccups may be minor, but there will be hiccups.

To improve your professional wellbeing no matter where you are, start thinking about the tips below. If you're accompanying your partner on assignment, and you don't have a work permit in your new country, you might think about how these apply to your past jobs, or if you can use these for volunteering.

1. Ideally, you love the job you were hired for. Loving your job will help with motivation, getting up on Monday mornings, and persevering through tough times. If you don't love your job, list at least 5 things you like about it, e.g. the commute is short, your office space is comfortable, your colleagues are friendly, the benefits and salary support your family, etc.

We sometimes tend to see only the bad things. Focusing on what you like will help you feel gratitude and satisfaction; integral elements to wellbeing.

If you can't find anything you like about your job, knowing your strengths might help you find a new one.

2. Know your strengths and what you're good at Many of us don't have time to stop and think which parts of the job we love and which ones we don't enjoy. Generally, when we perform tasks that play to our inherent strengths, those tasks are easy for us. They come naturally, we do them well without having to concentrate too hard, and that often makes them enjoyable. If you're someone who loves a challenge, you will find enjoyment in problem-solving or having to work to achieve a level of competence. In that case, you may be good at various things, but after a while stop enjoying them, because maintaining the level of competence you want to show becomes more and more difficult to maintain since you have to keep working at it.

Continually working outside of our comfort zones increases stress. Learn more about yourself and take time to reflect what triggers stress for you. Personality Type instruments like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® help you figure out what your inherent strengths are. Armed with that awareness, you will be able to devise strategies on how to bring them into your work more effectively, which will help improve wellbeing.

3. Maintain positive and supportive relationships with your colleagues Very few jobs today operate in complete isolation. You don't have to be in sales to come in contact with other team members, customers, or vendors. To understand the cultural differences of your new colleagues and professional network, you must first become aware of your own cultural preferences. Only after understanding your own programming and framework will you be able to compare what is different to you, and contrast what is different among them. Think of your culture as wearing glasses you were never aware of. Moving to a new country will force you to take those glasses off and see people and things differently.

As with the second point, you have to know yourself before you can start understanding others. Learn about your culture and the one you are now living in. Ask yourself, your friends and family how they would describe your home, and then ask your new colleagues about how they do things. Asking why-questions may be seen as accusatory or condescending, so it is most helpful to come from a place of genuine curiosity and willingness to learn.

Being cut off from your usual cultural cues will be disconcerting and cause anxiety. All of a sudden you're the odd one out. If you start questioning your identity, your wellbeing will suffer.

You don't have to change who you are. But when the way you've always done things back home does not yield the same results, you have to adapt and add new behaviors to the mix. Well - only if you want to be effective, that is. Over time, seeing progress in how successfully you're fitting in will improve your well-being.

Image by tdlucas5000, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



Supporting Expat Spouses

Pic credit - fdecomite

Expat spouses often find themselves having to choose between a rock and a hard place. Moving every few years, relocating your sense of self and establishing new social circles are great fun and fantastic adventures if you have an outgoing, curious and flexible personality. If you're looking for stability on the other hand, your patience will be tested.

When it comes down to it, are you prepared to choose between your relationship and your livelihood?

The 2012 Brookfield Global Relocation Trends Study reports:

Although they are still in the majority, there are far fewer married international assignees than in the past. Given that the re-emergence of optimism in some segments of the economy is widely divergent and cautious at best, the desire of many families to preserve their two-income status is likely a strong factor in this result. In this year’s report, the percentage of international assignees that are married was 60%, the lowest in the last four years of the survey, and a full 7% under the historical average (67%). Furthermore, this year’s percentage is down 8% from last year’s report (68%) and 14% from the survey high of 74% that was reported 12 years ago. As economic realities continue to remain in flux for many employees with families, it is possible that companies’ current international assignment programs are not adequately meeting the needs of employees with spouses, causing them to decline international assignment opportunities. In any case, the identification of this as a longer term trend affords companies the opportunity to ensure their policies and benefits are aligned to meet the changing profiles of their assignees.

Imagine your partner presents you with the fact that it's a 3-year stint in Malaysia, or bye-bye VP promotion. He really wants and needs to go, but he will turn it down if you're not on board.

Great! You're involved in the decision!

Now let's see: you have a great life, your family and friends live nearby, your parents are getting up there in age, you've a fantastic job, your kids adore their school, you love your house - and you love your spouse, too.

If you decide not to give up what you have, will he eventually resent you for it? Probably right around the time that other guy gets the promotion.

If you decide to support him and move, effectively giving up your life as you know it, to a place where you cannot read grocery labels, your hairdresser doesn't understand you wanted blond not red highlights, and the culture is completely alien, will you resent him for it?

Not unlikely. Hell, your marriage may fall apart altogether.

Still, the chances of you going abroad are a lot higher in this scenario than they would be if we swapped pronouns:

Imagine your partner presents you with the fact that it's a 3-year stint in Malaysia, or bye-bye VP promotion. SHE really wants and needs to go, but SHE will turn it down if you're not on board.

As it is, 80 % of expats are men, and only 20 % are women. Brookfield's data does not go into marital status detail by gender, or at least I haven't heard back from them about it. So the reality is, more often than not it's women who have to decide between love and their own careers.

Going back to yesterday's happiness formula, I recommend adopting a positive attitude. If you decide to go abroad, find ways to fill your days with things you love but never had the chance to pursue. Do your best to be prepared for as much as you can prepare yourself for, and maintain open and honest communication throughout the process. Your partner needs to hear how you feel so you can effectively support each other.

Preparing for an international assignment comes in many different shapes and sizes. Sometimes a bit of a Google search is sufficient, many times all out language classes are appropriate. I always recommend cross-cultural trainings - even and especially if you're moving to countries with the same language. And there may also be circumstances that warrant continuous coaching support.

The good news is, your decision doesn't have to be "either relationship, or career". International experiences can lead to a broader range of (marketable!) skills and competencies for everyone involved. They can strengthen a family bond, and you'll create memories ranging from anecdotes to moments of profound shifts in your being.


Thoughts on Job Security


Thoughts on Job Security

My father is going on early retirement this week, after 37 years in the same industry. He changed specialties once in the early 1990s, but remained in the same field. My mother has been working in the same job for 42 years, changing employers only after the first one folded after about 35 years of service there. Both my parents are still in their 50s (yup, they started young. Oh yeah, and I'm 12.) and have lived in the same town their whole lives. Among most my peers, this kind of job security and local consistency is practically unheard of these days. It's neither the norm nor desired. Can you imagine the discussions we had every time I've changed job? And moved countries? Blame it on the generation gap, but we've had little empathy for one another at first. I'm happy my parents are happy, but I'm super happy that my first job isn't going to be my last.

Companies are looking for people who will bring their varied backgrounds to the job. Diversity breeds innovation. Change is constant. It remains to be seen what taking away employees' flexibility will do for your business. Yahoo will find out after June 1st, when no employee will be allowed to work from home anymore. Seems counter-intuitive for a technologies company to insist on face-to-face collaboration, but then again, establishing lasting relationships through email or Skype has its challenges, too.

Many US American States are "at will" employment states. That means there are no employment contracts - neither party commits to taking care of the other beyond the immediate role. If stock prices fall, I know you'll fire me. When the project is done or I've learned enough, you know I'll move on. The internet never sleeps, and my CV is always up-to-date and available on LinkedIn.

So where's the answer? As always, probably somewhere in the middle.

Nobody should have to stay in the same position for 40 years if they don't like it. Compromising your happiness will eventually affect your physical and mental health, so paycheck shmaycheck - get a coach and get you some happy. If you're afraid of change, consider your attitude to taking risks. Do you perhaps try to avoid uncertainty in other life areas as well? Do you like to plan things and know what's going to happen? What can you do in your job search or career change that will make you feel safe and supported?

If you got laid off before you were ready to go, this might be a good time to re-evaluate your path. Were you truly fulfilled or perhaps dragging yourself to work on Monday mornings? What is it that you really want to be doing? Have you ever thought about what your unique gifts and passions might be? Can you maybe even start your own business?

People move to where the opportunities are. In Europe, thousands of young adults from Spain, Italy, Greece, and Portugal now call Germany their home. In the States, mobility has always been a greater factor. Moving between States is easy thanks to the same currency and no border controls. Perhaps if you widen the net of your search, you'll find your dream job just a few miles away.

Image by Tit Bonac, Flickr, Creative Commons License



How often do ENFJs change jobs?

I've recently posted a quick poll on the LinkedIn ENFJ forum about how often ENFJs change jobs in the past, and here's the response:

ENFJ change jobs poll

Here's what one person commented:

I have worked my way from engineering technologist to sales tax recovery to ISO 9000 quality control development/consultant and now finally to Facilitator/Trainer especially focused on developing team and personal dynamics using the MBTI. I must admit that was a long way around to get to the spot that fits me most out of all the previous jobs. Thank you for asking the question. It is good to contemplate this.

This reminded me of my own journey over the last almost 20 years. Started out as a Foreign Language Secretary, because that's "something with languages", and seemed like the best move at the time. I liked people, chatting, and English so much, what could be better? Did I know at 19 what it was that I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing? Hell no. Finding myself was, is, an exercise of trial and error.

Executive Assistant combined many things, but I could never really be myself. One boss actually recommended I not be so nice with everyone. Interesting perspective, and totally true as it turns out.

So I studied HR and found a job in recruitment. What I learned there didn't feel right either. Having to look at candidates through a potential commission lens was not my cup of tea. I did all of six months before I was let go.

Today, I'm happy as a cross-cultural trainer and type facilitator. I love reading, learning, training, coaching, researching, and whaddayaknow, doing all of it in English.

The red thread of communication, languages, and people-service was always there. Still, is this what I'll be doing another 20 years from now?

Who knows! People change. We grow. Experiences make us richer. The world will be a different place in 2033, and perhaps everyone will have a babel-fish in their ear, like Douglas Adams suggests in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Everyone might be able to better understand one another. Perhaps everyone will receive mandatory type and positive psychology classes in Kindergarten, growing up with effective stress, change, and conflict management tools. Then there'll be no more need for my line of work, because everybody's already happy and prosperous.

Now there's a thought. :-)



Personality Type and Job Interviews


Personality Type and Job Interviews

Changing jobs is hard to do and interviewing generally sucks. You're nervous anyway, because you want to make a good impression, and if it's over the phone you don't even know if they're really browsing the web for cartoons while pretending to listen to you.

The ethical use of Type knowledge clearly states that someone's Type doesn't indicate skill or competence. Just because you prefer to use extraverted Thinking doesn't mean you're any good at it, or that you always come to the correct logical conclusions. It is also true that people may be more likely to enjoy professions that stimulate or nurture the inherent talents of their Type preferences, and therefore that Type shows up in greater numbers.

In a good-read Harvard Business Review article, Chris Smith from ARRYVE suggests not to hire entrepreneurs, but look for entrepreneurial spirit. He says:

At the interview, I generally like to discuss our company's philosophy of supporting employees' interests outside their specific role at the firm. When I do, I want to see if the candidate gets more excited about how we can help with those outside interests than with the job at hand. I also ask direct questions like "What motivates you?" and "What makes an individual successful?" Entrepreneurial spirited individuals are motivated by, and can find success in, the everyday activity of the company and the opportunities their role affords to grow the business. The entrepreneur's answers will focus on personal achievement and independence.

Type knowledge can help with the interviewing process.

From the interviewer's perspective

Once you identify which skills or behaviors would be helpful in the position, you can phrase questions in a way that reaches candidates of all types and gets to the heart of the capability.

For example, someone who processes information through iNtuiting and/or Perceiving is going to respond more easily to those open-ended questions like "What motivates you" or "What do our values mean to you". It allows them to move from the broad to the narrow; outline the theme before diving deeper. Questions like "describe an example when you used this particular skill and overcame that particular challenge" may be too specific for them and throw them off their game.

If you have a candidate with Sensing and/or Judging preferences, the blank canvas may unnerve them and the more specific guidance allows them to shine and showcase their expertise more easily. Framing the questions in more narrow terms helps them to move from the detail up to the theme.

From the interviewee's perspective

The idea for this post really came from a friend of mine (INTP preferences) who recently went through a telephone interview for a manager position. He knew he was completely qualified for the position, read everything he could about the company, and was inspired by the information he found. Needless to say, he was really excited about the opportunity.

The interviewer asked precise questions and expected short, concise answers. This was only going to be Round 1; all candidates have to get passed him to speak to the people who actually make the hiring decisions. They spent 45 minutes on examples, case studies, and practical tests.

Here's how the INTP described his experience:

"All the time I was thinking, 'these are questions I ask when I'm interviewing for people to join my team'. And I'm not hiring managers, I'm hiring employees! I was getting more stressed and just trying to say what I thought he wanted to hear, but really, I felt like the interviewer was doubting my competence. The questions were just too simplistic. Why didn't he ask me at a more strategic level? The level that as a manager I would be facing challenges at? I wanted to talk about the general landscape first before going deeper into the issues. He even could have asked what motivated me, or what I would bring to the position, or what value I could add to their company. This was a crap interview, I'd be surprised if I get a call back."

He was right, he didn't.

Knowing your Type preferences can help ground you and recognize when you're getting outside of your comfort zone. When we're stressed, it's difficult to maintain conscious control and keep calm. Telling the interviewer what he thought he wanted to hear in this case came from the 4th (aka inferior/aspirational) Fe function. INTP's don't generally have a lot of practice with- or conscious control over it, so using Fe is draining and not always successful.

Type also gives you a non-judgmental language to describe what's going on, so our INTP could have said something along the lines of, "before I get to the specifics of your question, allow me to paint a general picture to be sure we're on the same page."

Interviews are stressful. Making space for candidates to be themselves may take a little longer, but I'm pretty sure it will result in a better fit in the long run.

Image by vincent desjardins, flickr, Creative Commons License



MBTI® for You

The power of self knowledge

The MBTI® instrument has many possible applications for individuals, teams, and in organizations. If you are unfamiliar with its background, please read these posts on Type Theory and MBTI(r) Background.

Why you should know your personality type

Millions of people world-wide use this greater self knowledge to support e.g. change processes like an international relocation or a career transition. Many also find it useful during the process of redefining their life's purpose and goals, clarifying their relationship needs, or working on their Emotional Intelligence skills.

For executives, the MBTI® instrument is often used in conjunction with 360 degree feedback and other tools to provide a framework for executive coaching and leadership development.

Does this sound like you?

  • I heard about the MBTI(r) instrument and want to find out what my Type is.
  • I’m entering / changing my career and wonder which job makes the best use of my skills.
  • I’ve been quite stressed lately and want to come back to my normal self.
  • I’ve been having some tough conversations and want to improve my relationships.
  • My company is offering Executive Coaching to develop my leadership skills. How can type help me with that?
When you're ready to go, choose Individual MBTI® or visit our Process & Samples page for next steps!