Have you ever noticed that it’s easier for you to manage some people better than others? It’s not just that some people are easy to lead and some are not. It’s that we tend to use the same carrot to motivate everyone. But the problem is everyone is different, and what inspires some doesn’t necessarily motivate others.
While imperfect, a tool like the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator can help you see how each member on your team is different, and it can help you devise a strategy to reach and encourage every member of your team.
You can start by having them take a free Myers-Briggs assessment.
There are 16 possible types. Here are some tips for managing each one.
This person is pragmatic, organized, and logical. They’re constantly analyzing their world, and ultimately prefer to lead because of an innate desire to bring order to the world.
Inspiring them: You’re not going to motivate this person based on your job title. They need to understand that your views, decisions, and requests are logical and make sense.
The greatest way to inspire an ESTJ to be their best is to let them take charge of a project and prove themselves to you. The more trust you show them, the more energized they are to succeed.
Offering feedback: Don’t come in with vague requests. If you have behavior you’d like to see changed, you need to be clear and offer specific examples of the negative behavior that you’d like to see amended.
ISTJs are planners. They are driven by a sense of personal responsibility and are extremely focused on the details. You can think of them as perfectionists.
Inspiring them: Give them space to work on their own, and don’t push them to do too many things at once. The ultimate reward for an ISTJ is more autonomy and authority.
When you give them a project, make sure that you’re as explicit as possible about your expectations. Tell them what success looks like, in what order you’d like to see it accomplished, and when the final deadline is.
Offering feedback: Don’t waste an ISTJ’s time dancing around your point. They much prefer honest, straightforward feedback.
If you have to make corrections, be prepared to demonstrate an objective standard, and then clearly and logically show them how their performance is falling short.
Practical and loyal, ESFJs are driven by an intense desire to maintain relationships and help people. They’re outgoing, affectionate, and open.
Inspiring them: If any group was motivated by words of affirmation, this one’s it. They’re driven to please, and by affirming them, you’re meeting their greatest need. The more opportunities they have to collaborate with others, the better. They thrive in friendly, encouraging environments.
Acknowledge the fact that they’re trying desperately to be helpful, and let them know that you trust them to do a thorough job.
Offering feedback: Frontload this individual with positive feedback. As much as possible, find areas where they’re being efficient and creating a good environment with others. Once you’ve set them at ease in these areas, you can gently focus on areas that need to be changed.
An ISFJ will find meaning in a task they don’t enjoy if they feel it appeals to their sense of duty. They’re quiet and dependable people who pride themselves on their personal responsibility.
Inspiring them: Devote yourself to creating a connection with an ISFJ. They’re sensitive and easy to offend, and developing a bond is going to go a long way in your ability to manage them.
Once they’re convinced that you have their best interest at heart and that you’re someone they can respect, they’ll follow you anywhere.
Offering feedback: Diplomacy is the order of the day. Once you show them that you appreciate them and are sensitive to their feelings, you can point out specific areas where you’d like to see growth.
Decisive and ambitious, ENTJs are assertive personalities who excel at strategy and execution. They’re natural leaders who eclipse others when it comes to long-range planning.
Inspiring them: It can be intimidating to manage an ENTJ, but as much as possible, you want to reward and champion their competitive drive. This competitive spirit is going to benefit you in the long run.
Channel their energy and drive by encouraging them to develop new skills and by giving them a clear pathway for advancement. If the pathway to promotion is opaque, they’re not going to know what it takes to succeed and will become frustrated.
Offering feedback: Be clear and direct in your feedback, but don’t question their value or competence (they won’t believe you anyway). They want to achieve, so get them to help you devise a strategy for further improvement.
INTJ’s are energized by a world of potential possibilities and opportunities. They’re idea-driven observers focused on understanding the people and situations around them.
Inspiring them: Present them with problems you’re trying to solve. They’re motivated by the trust that’s shown to them and energized by finding innovative ways to solve complex problems.
Clearly explain what’s expected of them and how they can personally advance, and then get out of their way so that they can achieve your goals with minimal disruption.
Offering feedback: Start by giving them examples of the value they bring. Then be direct and open with them. Don’t expect an immediate response. Set another appointment for a follow up, which allows them time to process your feedback.
Nothing gets an ENFJ more excited than helping others reach their potential. This personality is warm and expressive, and driven by creating and maintaining close relationships.
Inspiring them: The ENFJ is driven by their personal values. Do what you can to create a position that’s consistent with those values. Rely on them to give you feedback about the team’s morale, and frequently check in to see how they’re feeling about things.
You want the ENFJ to know that you value them—but not simply for their contribution. They need to know that you appreciate them as people as well as for the contributions they bring to the team.
Offering feedback: Contrary to what a lot of other personality types need, the ENFJ is going to prefer an open conversation. You need to set aside a time when you can give them your undivided attention. Ultimately, this conversation is going to depend upon their belief that you care for them and are interested in their perspective; this means you can’t dismiss their feelings.
Passionate and idealistic, the INFJ carries a deep concern for others. They make great counselors because they truly listen to others and are incredibly empathetic. They tend to be risk averse and are very deliberate when making a decision.
Inspiring them: INFJs need to feel like they’re aligned with their superiors. Forging a rapport with them and highlighting areas where your principles align establishes a great deal of trust.
Give them plenty of outlets for their creativity, especially in ways that allow them to help others. They’ll only work harder when they feel like their independance and input is valued.
Offering feedback: When you can, give them feedback in writing. And do your level best to offer tons of praise when surfacing even the slightest criticism.
Self-confident and outgoing, the ESTP is an enthusiastic adventurer who’s always up for a new challenge or activity. They’re really good in a pinch and have no problem being decisive.
Inspiring them: They love a smorgasbord of tasks, so make sure that their position offers a lot of variety and plenty of opportunities to interact with team members and the general public. They’re known for improvisation, so don’t bog them down in red tape.
The ESTP is one of the more carrot-oriented personality types. When it’s possible, motivate them with the opportunity for rewards.
Offering feedback: Feel free to be open about their performance, but keep the tone light. Offer specific steps you’d like to see, and encourage their feedback. If they feel like they have a better idea for dealing with a frustration, hear them out.
ISTPs are constant tinkerers. They want to understand what makes something work and love to have plenty of hands-on projects around. They are full of ideas, and nothing makes them happier than putting those ideas to the test through trial and error.
Inspiring them: These folks flourish when their work has concrete, measurable results. If they can see some way their work has made a difference at the end of the day, they’ll go home completely content.
They love to have a list of items to fix or deal with, but they’re interested in concrete ideas. Having to work out strategies does nothing for them and will eventually frustrate them.
Offering feedback: If you need to have a serious discussion with an ISTP, don’t tell them how you feel. Tell them what you think. If you’re not making a case that’s demonstrably rational, you’re going to lose them.
“If life isn’t enjoyable, then what’s it all about?” That’s the question that drives an ESFP. They’re fun-loving, warm, and adaptable. They’re extremely sensitive to the feelings of others and can pretty easily read the energy in a room.
Inspiring them: Make sure that they get to work with a team. They’re happiest when they feel close to the people they’re working with. It’s in your best interest to invest yourself into building a relationship with your ESFPs.
Sometimes ESFPs need a little guidance. They shine brightest when you can provide a simple system of accountability and a method for following their progress.
Offering feedback: ESFPs can be extremely sensitive to criticism. They need to understand that you want what’s best for them and you think highly of them. It’s helpful for you to mix complements with any negative feedback, but be careful. They’re apt to pick up on insincere compliments which, to them, are as bad as criticism.
These free spirits are adventurous and feel deeply. They’re passionate and sensitive but can be disorganized and impulsive.
Inspiring them: ISFPs need to have very detailed and clear goals, but they need to have the freedom to reach those goals on their own. Micromanaging an ISFP is the worst possible way to attempt to get what you want out of them.
It’s much easier to draw them out with reward and praise than it is to push them.
Offering feedback: If you can, give them written feedback and allow time for them to process your words. Then you can set up a time for them to respond with feedback. Be careful in the way you interact with them; they’re shy and sensitive.
Clever and outgoing, ENTPs love people and ideas. Their quick wit and energetic imaginations make them powerful debaters. And even though they can occasionally come across as insensitive, they’re incredibly easy going and open.
Inspiring them: ENTPs are constantly on the hunt to put their problem-solving skills to work. If you can give them issues to work on, it will help curtail their tendency to find issues with your management. When ENTPs bring up weaknesses in the organization (or even your management), don’t get defensive. They’re truly trying to help, and they’re usually on to something.
The quickest way to annoy ENTPs is to give them routine, maintenance-oriented tasks. They get bored and frustrated easily. Instead, give them complicated and interesting assignments and publicly acknowledge their success.
Offering feedback: This is one of the personality types most open to criticism. They can dish out, and they can certainly take it. Just make sure that your feedback is logical and related to their performance, or they’ll poke holes in your observations.
Of all the personality types, The INTP tends to be the most private and detached. They excel at analysis, but they tend to be emotionally reserved and quiet. Like ENTPs, they enjoy taking apart ideas and arguments, but they don’t enjoy debate.
Inspiring them: While INTPs tend to be loners, they often need someone alongside of them managing details. They have a tendency toward disorder, which can make them a challenge to manage. It’s helpful if you can give them tools to monitor their progress and deadlines.
People who hire INTPs often feel like they were duped, because an INTP’s strengths don’t translate well on a resume. Once you discover you have an INTP, they can be an incredible secret weapon if you give them independent and intellectually complex assignments.
Offering feedback: INTPs are not motivated or encouraged by emotional appeals and pep talks. They need clear, logical, and concise feedback. If you can give this kind of information in writing, that’s even better.
If you want unbridled enthusiasm, get yourself an ENFP. They’re the life of the party and love to make connections with others. They’re fun-loving and value-driven.
Inspiring them: As long as they’re in a supportive and collaborative environment, ENFPs are going to be happy and productive. Give them a variety of tasks and try not to micromanage them.
They do, however, need clear assignments, goals, and deadlines. Without them, ENFPs will flounder. There’s a tendency to let details slip, so you’ll have to work with ENFPs to overcome some of their organizational weaknesses.
Offering feedback: Be careful—ENFPs are sensitive. A little criticism goes a long way, and it’s easy to overwhelm them with details and examples. If you’re sitting an ENFP down for a performance appraisal, set aside a lot of time for discussion.
INFPs aren’t driven by logic, emotionalism, or practicality. They’re completely motivated by their principles. They’re incredibly perceptive about people and deeply passionate about their beliefs, ideas, and relationships.
Inspiring them: These individuals love a project they can throw themselves into and are easily demoralized by simple directives and fill-in-the-dots routines. If they feel like they’re doing something that truly matters, there’s no end to the energy that they’ll put into their work.
They excel in creative endeavors but struggle with work that is overly technical or logical. They aim to please, and if you can show regular and sincere appreciation for their insight and input, their loyalty is unmatched.
Offering feedback: INFPs internalize mistakes and take criticism personally. It’s a lot easier to develop and encourage an INFP’s strengths than it is to fix their deficiencies, which can make managing them difficult. Know that their self-consciousness stems from a sincere desire to be an asset.
Understanding People Is The Key
If you want to effectively lead your team, you need to learn to manage personalities. Once you understand what drives and inspires the people you work with, you can help them become more productive and keep them happy.