Is Myers–Brigg actually effective for organizations?

I know a lot of people that are Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), but in my own research the scientific basis seemed mixed.

When people actually use this within organizations, have they seen (or better measured!) the benefit?

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It can have benefits in team building and self-awareness activities, setting an understanding of ‘not everyone thinks like me’. However, what we do know is that using Myers briggs as part of a selection process is problematic. Mostly because the data isn’t normative - so there is no accurate way to compare candidates.

Further it misses the nuances that exist along the spectrum of a particular trait - for example, extraversion and intraversion are not just two buckets. They’re made up of sub-facets and each individual is likely to show a different combination of these subfacets along a continuum (all the while being somewhat situation dependent!).

So short version of my perspective is it works fine in low stakes situations, but don’t use for anything with high stakes - like hiring, promotion decisions, etc.

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I recently read a book, The Personality Brokers, that is a fascinating read through the history of the MBTI. MBTI is based on what it seems is a misunderstanding on Jungian psychology, and it has very limited scientific validity when it comes to the actual traits it explores. I would recommend against making an investment in it. There are other frameworks that can be used to achieve similar outcomes (at CEB we used Bolton & Bolton, which emphasizes flexing based on observable behavior).

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When I do training, I try to be very clear about how it is useful. It’s great for helping people talk about their differences, having a few laughs, giving them a common language to talk about cognitive diversity. I also use it in coaching a lot to help uncover why people find certain parts of their job more stressful than others, and use MBTI to help them have tips. Most importantly, it’s a tool for understanding other coworkers, which to me is more important than the self awareness piece. We don’t use it at all for job placement and definitely not for recruiting.

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As others mentioned, it is not a valid measure for selection which is stated in the manual. The other important thing to remember with the MBTI is that it is not measuring traits or skills it is measuring preferences. If you think of that in terms of a preference we use every day, handedness, it is very easy to figure out why you should not use it for selection. Preferring to use my right hand says nothing about my dexterity or the style of my handwriting, or even my skill with my left hand. It tells you simply that I am more comfortable with my right hand and nothing more than that.

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We recently used a Myers-Briggs based test called 16 Personalities (free and fast) that was very effective and fun for team building. We had everyone take it and plotted our team on a chart by type. Then we broke into teams to discuss how we could improve communication and work better together based on the insights that the program provided. It was very eye opening and fun. It definitely has a horoscope element and shouldn’t be used for a purely diagnostic tool, but it does create a nice framework for encouraging feedback and communication. It has helped my team build more trust and has given us a shared language and set of tools to help set each other up for success.

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In the past I have worked with organizations that have used Meyers-Briggs or DISC fairly effectively. Currently we are using a tool called the Predictive Index which includes within it incredibly helpful tools for helping our team understand personality and behavioral traits of their co-workers and effectively manage conversations. One of my favorite ways to use the tools is to create profiles that align with specific job types and tasks. This allows us to use the tool as part of out interviewing and On-boarding process, it also helps with performance review conversations - helping to give context to questions regarding softer job expectations around proactivity, collaboration, assertiveness, or adherence to process and rules. The most important thing for us to remember however is that tools which measure these behavior traits are only one metric in understanding a person. And each of us have the ability to modify our own behaviors beyond our natural traits. We must always keep that in mind and not pigeon hole a person into a certain framework without spending the time to make our own evaluations of their ability to perform or interact with others - we cant rely on these assessments alone.

Like most models and frameworks, the MBTI is definitely wrong but hopefully useful.

I think what all of these “personality frameworks” achieve is a facilitation of introspection and self-awareness.

I think there is also a network effect that comes with the MBTI which makes the language more understandable (e.g. I can say I’m an INTP to my coach, my boss, an interviewer, etc. and there’s a good chance they get what I mean).

Going back to the “model” analogy, as with all models, we build them to shine light on a certain mechanic of how the world works, rather than to find a perfect description of the universe. I agree with Chloe’s answer and sentiments that this model should not be used for “high-stakes” decisions like understanding how to hire and promote, but rather to open up dialogue about ways of working to drive individual & team effectiveness by shining a light on certain personality-driven biases you may have.

MBTI is a preference and perception based tool so as it doesn’t cover competence or skill I would certainly not use it in a recruitment process.

It provides you some self awareness of who you are in the workplace and how you can be more effective in your team if you understand you and those around you and why certain people ‘react’ or ‘act’ in certain ways.

We have moved away from MBTI unless its requested by a team or leader. We have been Using Insights Discovery but again its not something we tell people to live their lives by. Its a profile that tells you a bit about why you react that way and that you can choose to react or act how you like depending on the situation.

We use it while doing the hiring. However, it is not the only base. It depends upon how you use the result that comes after. Personally, i found it really helpful while building the team and trying to understand them in advance. At least i found it useful while understanding people’s communication preference, working style and few other info which could have taken me lot of time to understand. Once you start using analytics on this, you will start enjoying it more.

When I was still in the ad & creative agency industry, I usually recommend two of the best tool for my team.

  1. Merit Profile - https://www.meritprofiles.com/
    Since 1994, big companies use the Merit Profile to beef up their leadership team. It’s quite expensive but very effective.

  2. How To Fascinate by Sally Hogshead - https://www.howtofascinate.com/
    Identifies each individual with their personality archetypes. Each personality archetype produces 3 ‘advantages’ which are the Primary, Secondary (supporting) and Dormant (potential).
    I love implementing this to my team because it’s not just labeling each person his/her archetype but it provides a full spectrum of how to take advantage of your strengths, weaknesses, potentials and how to collaborate with other archetypes. What works or not.
    And this program is customizable per organization. I’m really happy with the implementation of their program so you should check out their free assessments.

Hope this work folks!

It’s great insight for everyone, but if you start using as a ‘rule’ to deal with people, you’ll be hard pressed to follow it. Everyone is gungho on it at first, then it fades. If everyone got to do it as a group every year, it would be a great thing.

I loved this talk that we hosted on Myers Briggs and the workplace at Mozilla.

Some good points covered here already. One thing that is always on my mind with any of these type of assessments/tests is that the results can introduce biased behavior. i.e. I’m not a ‘visionary’ so it’s hard for me to produce a team vision (crude example to get my point across).