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How Myers-Briggs can create a stronger IT team

Sharon Florentine | April 26, 2017
Personality assessment tests, like Myers-Briggs, have their limitations, but they can be a powerful team-building and productivity tool.

"I've used personality assessments like this in the past as a CIO, and most recently at Flamingo at the leadership level as sort of an 'ice breaker' exercise. Typically, they're helpful when you're in a new organization, or inheriting a new team to set a baseline for rules of engagement and team norms and preferences -- particularly in technology, it can be awkward and challenging to have these types of conversations, but using an assessment can really help get these conversations going," says Mohindroo.

But what it comes down to is fostering greater emotional IQ and empathy, Parks says, which is one of the most important elements in building successful, high-performing teams.

"It's honestly about focusing on the positive aspects of people on the team instead of bitching about the negatives or trying to undermine or dismiss teammates because they have different capabilities. Having my team members take the assessment helps them to look deeper within themselves and to consider their team members in new, compassionate ways, and to do this organically," Parks says.

 

Safety dance

Tools like the MBTI can help foster a sense of psychological safety and trust, which are necessary to the building and maintaining of successful teams, as Google found when they set out to discover how to build the 'Perfect Team.'

Psychological safety is "a sense of confidence that the team will not embarrass, reject or punish someone for speaking up. It describes a team climate characterized by interpersonal trust and mutual respect in which people are comfortable being themselves," writes Amy Edmundson, a Harvard Business School professor, in her study, Managing the risk of learning: psychological safety in work teams.

 

Pulling weeds

For Parks, tools like MBTI help create and strengthen that sense of psychological safety and trust by signaling the importance of personal understanding and empathy, and weeding out toxic personalities and tendencies before they have a chance to sabotage a project.

"The hard truth is there are people who are poison. They take pleasure in other people's pain, they gossip incessantly, they aren't interested in being in a group and they are lacking in emotional EQ. They don't contribute to a team's effectiveness, and they don't last long. If you identify these folks early on, you can mitigate this, but you have to get rid of them. It's harsh, but they will erode the team dynamic into dust in no time," he says.

Tools like the MBTI can also help engender diversity of thought within teams and the larger organization, says Mohindroo, and to identify areas where you need to mix things up a bit to try and spark innovation and creativity.

 

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