Making MBTI© Stick

How many times have you participated in an a-ha generating personal development educational session, swore it would change your behavior and fell back into your old ways within days? It happens all the time, but it doesn’t have to. Many organizations are successful at making it stick. How do they do it? At the recent 20th Biennial Association for Psychological Type International Conference in Miami, Karla Edwards – Director of Service Excellence for an 1,800 employee medical center – and I presented how we did it in her organization.

There are three key components to successfully introducing and sustaining a personality tool, specifically the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© in an organization. In order of importance:

  1. Identify a champion who is passionate about the cause.
  2. Require effective and continuous training for a team of trainers.
  3. Have support from executive leaders.

Identify a champion. The champion is responsible for overseeing all Myers-Briggs© related activities and is preferably at a visible management level. More critically, this champion is also the person who will go to bat for the cause – over and over again. Yes, over and over because most likely there will be skeptics and pockets of resistance, or people who just don’t understand its value. A knowledgeable and passionate champion must be in place to constantly “sell” the organization on the MBTI’s© benefits.

Effectively and continuously train a team of facilitators. Here, the goal is two-fold:

  • Create great trainers who will deliver great training. When people go to great training, they talk about it, and when they talk about it, it makes others want to get in on the action.
  • Develop type experts who have the expertise to apply the MBTI to a wide range of individual and team issues. When the MBTI is used to address real, day-to-day organizational issues such as communication, change, problem solving and decision-making, and project management, it becomes seen as a valuable and necessary tool.

Have support from the executive leadership team. They set the tone for what is important in the organization. If they are using the language, attending learning opportunities and visibly support the use of Myers Briggs, others in the organization will get the message that this is a useful, helpful and important tool. And nothing demonstrates leadership support more than the staff seeing that leaders are changing their behavior as a result of what they are learning about type.

Other important components to put into place:

  • Choose a facilitation team through an application process that clearly identifies an applicant’s commitment; is approved by their supervisor; and includes a presentation audition that demonstrates their passion and knowledge of type, as well as presentation skills.
  • Design classes to be presented in a consistent manner by each facilitator on the team.
  • Make Myers Briggs visible, e.g. lapel pins and stickers for ID badges, table tents announcing the person’s 4-letter preference, MBTI stationary, and any other creative ways that suggests “MBTI spoken here.”
  • Build a comprehensive library and encourage employees to check out books.
  • Create an organizational database that identifies all employees’ preferences (with their permission) and is available to all employees in an easily sorted program.

Using MBTI in your organization doesn’t have to be a fun and then forgotten event. With the right planning, commitment and support, it can be an integral part of your organizational culture that drives business results.