Which personality type is happier in the workplace?


How can managers create an environment that suits both introverts and extroverts?

Unhappy at work? New research says it might be due to your personality type. Myers-Briggs recently conducted a survey about employee well-being which looked at how personality types impact  satisfaction and happiness in the workplace. The survey also took gender, age, geography, occupation and activities into consideration.

The researchers used Karl Jung’s personality type theory to categorise respondents as prone to introversion or extroversion. By this scale, introverts are people that have a preference for sensing, thinking and perceiving, whereas extroverts tend to be intuitive feeling types.

So which personality type fared better in terms of well-being? Extroverts, somewhat unsurprisingly. Dr Martin Boult said of the findings: “The results of this study show that organisations seeking to support workplace well-being should consider personality types and offer a range of activities. You want to avoid relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Different personality, same workspace

How should managers approach these two opposing personality types in the workplace? Harvard Business professor Francesca Gino says managers need to adopt a position of “understanding and curiosity” in order to handle diverse personalities.

Managers should have a firm grasp on the different personality types and their varying approach to work. Extroverts, for example, are more likely to be risk takers and are also more comfortable multi-tasking, whereas introverts are careful and considered in their approach. The former thrive on social engagement and business meetings while the latter often won’t respond well to these conditions.

Managers should then identify who in your team falls under which personality type, which can often be difficult to do. This is partially because introverts can feel the need to recast themselves as extroverts in the workplace, says Gino. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking says, “When introverts act like extroverts, it’s very stressful. It’s not their natural behaviour. It takes a lot of effort and results in them having less mental and physical stamina available to do their work.” She says managers should therefore encourage open talk about which personality type their employees identify with, and promote an air of and acceptance in the workspace.

Taking action

The structure of the working day should take both introverts and extroverts into account. For example, consider your team’s approach to meetings. Cain recommends no meetings before 12:30pm, which “gives people who prefer head down time the freedom to have that, but it also gives extroverts the knowledge that there will be time to talk things out”.

Introverts and extroverts have different work style and needs. Introverts may feel edged out by their more exuberant counterparts, while they search for more facts to build a case. Management should openly appreciate both approaches, as both have merit.

Encourage don’t force

Introverts and extroverts can be encouraged to interact in ways that challenge what they are comfortable with. Managers should ensure introverts feel comfortable speaking their mind, which can be done by setting a meeting agenda in advance so that they can come prepared rather than feeling forced to improvise on the spot.

While extroverts can make a meeting more lively, they should be encouraged to listen and reflect on what their colleagues have to say. Addressing this issue with employees who tend to dominate will also make introverts feel like their opinions and ideas are valued and welcomed.

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Lynne
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Lynne

I find the classification of ‘introvert’ or ‘extrovert’ somewhat questionable. Speaking with colleagues and friends, many believe that they demonstrate characteristics of either group depending on the situations they find themselves in. Like many behavioural catgeorisations, I think ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ need to be treated with some reservation about how useful they are. Lumping people into groups in a work environment can risk missing or undervaluing the strengths and capabilities of individuals.

Linda Norman
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Linda Norman

Completely agree with the author of this article. People who are more reserved do often feel they need to put on a mask in the workplace. Engaging the quieter ones 1-1 is much more effective then asking them to contribute during group meetings. Skilled leaders need to know how to engage everyone, not just the noisy ones who tend to dominate in social situations. The same applies to people who do not speak English fluently and who may feel they are not able to express themselves as well as they might like in meetings. I look forward to more discussion… Read more »

Nathalie Lynton
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Nathalie Lynton

Oh dear. Looks like humans have been boiled down to 2 types, and workplaces as one type of environment also. Surely humans and workplaces are more varied. We work in more than THE OFFICE, but also the home-based site, the school, the library, the shopping centre, the construction site, the tertiary education environment, the ocean, the farm, the bush and land, the laboratory, the hospital, the council, the court, the transportation methodologies, the mines and powerhouses, the theatre and even the mortuary and morgue. The idea is that we ensure employees feel: • Valued and respected for who they are… Read more »

Jan Ferguson
Guest
Jan Ferguson

Hi Great discussion. As a fully licensed Myers-Briggs type facilitator and practitioner I am interested in the article and the comments. While, as an advocate for individuality I fully agree with Lynne’s reservations about ‘lumping people together’ the MBTI assessment tool enables people to self-report and is purely about peoples preferences not about grouping people. This means that people may prefer extroversion or introversion – along a scale and not necessarily classified as purely one or the other. With MBTI there are 4 dichotomies for preferences and the way we score our preferences may be totally different to other people… Read more »

Rachael Brown, HRM Online
Admin
Rachael Brown, HRM Online

Thanks for reading the article and taking the time to make some really insightful comments on the piece. While the Myers-Briggs scale was mentioned early on in the article – in the research people were categorised using this spectrum – I agree that greater clarification should have been used.

Thanks again for contributing to a great discussion!

Chloe

More on HRM

Which personality type is happier in the workplace?


How can managers create an environment that suits both introverts and extroverts?

Unhappy at work? New research says it might be due to your personality type. Myers-Briggs recently conducted a survey about employee well-being which looked at how personality types impact  satisfaction and happiness in the workplace. The survey also took gender, age, geography, occupation and activities into consideration.

The researchers used Karl Jung’s personality type theory to categorise respondents as prone to introversion or extroversion. By this scale, introverts are people that have a preference for sensing, thinking and perceiving, whereas extroverts tend to be intuitive feeling types.

So which personality type fared better in terms of well-being? Extroverts, somewhat unsurprisingly. Dr Martin Boult said of the findings: “The results of this study show that organisations seeking to support workplace well-being should consider personality types and offer a range of activities. You want to avoid relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.”

Different personality, same workspace

How should managers approach these two opposing personality types in the workplace? Harvard Business professor Francesca Gino says managers need to adopt a position of “understanding and curiosity” in order to handle diverse personalities.

Managers should have a firm grasp on the different personality types and their varying approach to work. Extroverts, for example, are more likely to be risk takers and are also more comfortable multi-tasking, whereas introverts are careful and considered in their approach. The former thrive on social engagement and business meetings while the latter often won’t respond well to these conditions.

Managers should then identify who in your team falls under which personality type, which can often be difficult to do. This is partially because introverts can feel the need to recast themselves as extroverts in the workplace, says Gino. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking says, “When introverts act like extroverts, it’s very stressful. It’s not their natural behaviour. It takes a lot of effort and results in them having less mental and physical stamina available to do their work.” She says managers should therefore encourage open talk about which personality type their employees identify with, and promote an air of and acceptance in the workspace.

Taking action

The structure of the working day should take both introverts and extroverts into account. For example, consider your team’s approach to meetings. Cain recommends no meetings before 12:30pm, which “gives people who prefer head down time the freedom to have that, but it also gives extroverts the knowledge that there will be time to talk things out”.

Introverts and extroverts have different work style and needs. Introverts may feel edged out by their more exuberant counterparts, while they search for more facts to build a case. Management should openly appreciate both approaches, as both have merit.

Encourage don’t force

Introverts and extroverts can be encouraged to interact in ways that challenge what they are comfortable with. Managers should ensure introverts feel comfortable speaking their mind, which can be done by setting a meeting agenda in advance so that they can come prepared rather than feeling forced to improvise on the spot.

While extroverts can make a meeting more lively, they should be encouraged to listen and reflect on what their colleagues have to say. Addressing this issue with employees who tend to dominate will also make introverts feel like their opinions and ideas are valued and welcomed.

7
Leave a reply

avatar
100000
  Subscribe to receive comments  
Notify me of
Lynne
Guest
Lynne

I find the classification of ‘introvert’ or ‘extrovert’ somewhat questionable. Speaking with colleagues and friends, many believe that they demonstrate characteristics of either group depending on the situations they find themselves in. Like many behavioural catgeorisations, I think ‘introvert’ and ‘extrovert’ need to be treated with some reservation about how useful they are. Lumping people into groups in a work environment can risk missing or undervaluing the strengths and capabilities of individuals.

Linda Norman
Guest
Linda Norman

Completely agree with the author of this article. People who are more reserved do often feel they need to put on a mask in the workplace. Engaging the quieter ones 1-1 is much more effective then asking them to contribute during group meetings. Skilled leaders need to know how to engage everyone, not just the noisy ones who tend to dominate in social situations. The same applies to people who do not speak English fluently and who may feel they are not able to express themselves as well as they might like in meetings. I look forward to more discussion… Read more »

Nathalie Lynton
Guest
Nathalie Lynton

Oh dear. Looks like humans have been boiled down to 2 types, and workplaces as one type of environment also. Surely humans and workplaces are more varied. We work in more than THE OFFICE, but also the home-based site, the school, the library, the shopping centre, the construction site, the tertiary education environment, the ocean, the farm, the bush and land, the laboratory, the hospital, the council, the court, the transportation methodologies, the mines and powerhouses, the theatre and even the mortuary and morgue. The idea is that we ensure employees feel: • Valued and respected for who they are… Read more »

Jan Ferguson
Guest
Jan Ferguson

Hi Great discussion. As a fully licensed Myers-Briggs type facilitator and practitioner I am interested in the article and the comments. While, as an advocate for individuality I fully agree with Lynne’s reservations about ‘lumping people together’ the MBTI assessment tool enables people to self-report and is purely about peoples preferences not about grouping people. This means that people may prefer extroversion or introversion – along a scale and not necessarily classified as purely one or the other. With MBTI there are 4 dichotomies for preferences and the way we score our preferences may be totally different to other people… Read more »

Rachael Brown, HRM Online
Admin
Rachael Brown, HRM Online

Thanks for reading the article and taking the time to make some really insightful comments on the piece. While the Myers-Briggs scale was mentioned early on in the article – in the research people were categorised using this spectrum – I agree that greater clarification should have been used.

Thanks again for contributing to a great discussion!

Chloe

More on HRM