MBTI® INFJ and Workplace Behavior – Insights from the Myers Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI) and associated assessments are used all over the world by different types of organizations, from small businesses to multi-national corporations to government agencies. When applied strategically, The MBTI® can help employees, managers, and executives alike better understand how to capitalize on their strengths and bolster their challenges, while also helping others do the same. It can even help organizations as a whole optimize collaboration and streamline communication among team members of different personality types. Ultimately, these changes create an environment in which organizations “make the most of their talent” (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J., p2, CPP Inc., 1998) by improving individual productivity and allowing individuals’ differences to complement one another. The first step to reaping these benefits is to gain a better understanding of your and your team’s personality type and personality preferences.
Individuals who belong to the Introverted-Intuition-Feeling-Judging (INFJ) personality type are “compassionate and insightful” (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J., p18, CPP Inc., 1998). They are incredibly empathetic and foster relationships almost instinctively and have a macroscopic way of interacting with the world. They make decisions using their emotions and intuitions, typically paying little attention to logistics or practical constraints of how to bring their visions to life. A Judging type is at times misconstrued as being judgmental. This is not the case. The Judging type is known to be an organized, scheduled type who prefers structured environments.
Organizational Climate and INFJ Disposition
People of different MBTI® Personality Types have the potential to contribute to their organizations in unique ways. Organizations that provide a climate that cultivates this potential will typically be more successful than those that do not because they are effectively utilizing the resources they already have. For instance, INFJs are “compassionate and insightful, trust their visions, and quietly exert influence” (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J., p18, CPP Inc., 1998). They tend to be quiet, thoughtful individuals who encourage harmony and mutual consideration among members of their teams. For INFJs, how a task is completed is just as important as the completion itself; they work hard to ensure that every team member feels heard and valued, and that the team overall works cohesively along the way. These priorities contrast with those of people with more “Thinking” tendencies, which are typically less focused on the human element and more on quantitative improvements in operations, such as increases in efficiency or output. Instead, INFJs are drawn to work environments and careers that allow them to focus on improving the lives of others around them and in their communities, and they are at their best when they are surrounded with peers and colleagues who share these ideals.
INFJs are innately creative individuals, and benefit when their organizations provide them with the flexibility that they need to explore unorthodox solutions to challenges as well as to consider how their humanistic values can be applied to improve the lives of those around them. For example, an INFJ working as a therapist might prefer an artistic or musical approach as opposed to the traditional psychiatric stereotype of encouraging a patient to lie on a couch and discuss his challenges. Similarly, an INFJ in an educational setting may want to try interactive or collaborative teaching methods that deviate from the omniscient “instructor as knowledge purveyor” model and instead position the instructor as a facilitator or mentor. These are just two examples of how an INFJ might reimagine a traditional context and goal to be more respectful of others’ needs and reward personal insights. Similarly, INFJs need their own managers and leaders to allow them the space to exercise their own creativity. At the same time, INFJs’ “Judging” tendencies make them highly organized. Unlike their “Perceiving” or “Feeling” peers, INFJs appreciate the predictability and efficiency of reliable, established processes for tasks that need to be completed regularly.
Workplace Association and Interaction
Individuals’ communicative tendencies and proclivities are also shaped by their MBTI® Type. As such, understanding team members’ MBTI® Type can help organizations anticipate and therefore prevent misunderstandings or friction before they can impact workflows. Because INFJs tend to be reserved and prefer to work independently, people with more extraverted or involved personality types might see them as being aloof or even disinterested, which in turn can lead to frustration and the perception that INFJs are not adequately contributing to their teams. Thus, leaders and their teams may benefit from understanding that INFJs simply prefer to take a backseat to avoid stepping on others’ toes or offending them with a controversial opinion or proposal. They can also facilitate INFJs’ contributions by allowing for independent brainstorming time either prior to or during meetings, or even explicitly asking, “What do you think about X?” Creating space for such contributions not only builds good will, but also solicits new and often creative perspectives.
At the beginning of any project, whether they are working independently or collaboratively, INFJs first articulate macroscopic goals, define their future vision, and articulate explicit criteria for success. As they brainstorm possible approaches, particularly as part of a team, their contributions are abstract, creative, and focused on benefiting as many people as possible as profoundly as possible. However, they may have difficulty proposing specific steps in implementation and sometimes even articulating their vision in a way that others can understand and relate to. Those who work closely with INFJs may find it helpful to ask clarifying questions, such as “Could you tell us more about X? How do you see it affecting the community?”, or “Let’s think through what implementing X could look like.” Such questions can also help INFJs decide between multiple options, especially when no single course of action will satisfy all of their criteria or adequately benefit all members of a team or community.
In addition to these logistical considerations, INFJs tend to take responsibility for the emotional aspect of professional life. For example, if they notice an extraverted colleague is upset or stressed, they may make a concerted effort to schedule coffee or lunch as an opportunity for them to share. On the other hand, they may simply leave a small note or token for an introverted colleague, understanding that social interaction may drain rather than recharge that person.
INFJs and Operational Efficiency
INFJs make unique contributions to how their organizations operate. While they may not significantly increase their organizations’ bottom line or output, INFJs nonetheless become integral to their organizations because of their inherent loyalty and perseverance. They work with integrity and consistency and ensure that when they set an implicit or explicit expectation that they follow through and fulfill that obligation. Because they take the time to build relationships with their peers, their peers are often willing to invest greater time and resources into their projects in return. Similarly, INFJs’ leadership style hinges on cooperation and loyalty. Instead of demanding others’ obedience and enforcing negative consequences for dissent or resistance, INFJs focus on building relationships and sharing their long-term vision so their employees will want to follow them and help them make that vision a reality. If they continue to face disagreement, INFJs prefer to create a safe space in which others can share their own perspectives and justify them. During these negotiations, INFJs want to better understand others’ goals and how they may differ or overlap with those of the organization and other team members. In addition, they also want to ensure that every person present feels valued and understood. At the end of the day, INFJ leaders seek courses of action that positively impact others, both internal and external to their organizations, as much as possible. This approach to solving problems is highly interpersonal – it starts with understanding the situation from a macroscopic level and then weighing the human impact of various options.
Tradition and culture are also important to INFJs as they innovate and find novel solutions to problems. As a result, they tend to be skeptical of undertakings that radically change organizations or procedures, or which might require significant education or training. From INFJs’ perspective, the change itself might be more stressful for individuals than the circumstance it is meant to improve. As such, when presenting training to an INFJ, it is important to explicitly state why the training is being conducted, what the end goal or learning objective is, and how the resulting behavioral change will benefit stakeholders or community members. For instance, if training on new operational procedures is being presented, the facilitators should communicate not only the procedures themselves in detail, but also the projected human impact and improvement over current operational standards.
Using the MBTI® in the Workplace
The modern workplace can benefit significantly from understanding employees’ Myers-Briggs Personality Type as well as how they may affect individuals’ leadership, communication, and other tendencies. These foundational insights can be applied strategically to streamline communication, prevent and mitigate conflicts, improve their workplace culture, and more. Small changes that make others feel welcome and supported can help employees feel more connected to their professional lives, which in turn improves employee satisfaction and ultimately their productivity.
Introduction To Type in Organizations (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J. CPP Inc., 1998)