MBTI® INTP and Workplace Behavior – Each individual’s personality consists of an amalgam of a plethora of innate characteristics. Collectively, these features shape personal preferences and behavioral tendencies in a variety of contexts, from making decisions and leading teams, to contributing to professional meetings, and beyond. Individuals and their organizations can analyze these traits to better understand how they and their teams operate, and then take steps to apply these insights to improving their communicative norms and operational procedures and even to anticipating and mitigating possible miscommunications. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) and associated assessments can be a valuable tool for better understanding individuals, interactions, and organizations and ultimately for improving their function and operations.
In total, there are sixteen distinct personality types, each of which has different characteristics and behaves in unique ways in the workplace. INTPs (Introverted-Intuitive-Thinking-Perception) Personality Types are “rational, curious, theoretical, and abstract” (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J., p22, CPP Inc., 1998). At their core, INTPs are logical thinkers and theoreticians who need to fully understand situations and carefully think through every possible scenario before committing fully to a practical action plan. However, their focus on minute details can frustrate more action-oriented personality types, especially in situations where time is of the essence. Developing a more complete understanding of INTPs’ personalities and how they function in various situations can streamline how they contribute to their organizations and communicate with others within them.
Organizational Climate and INTP Disposition
In order to be successful in professional settings, individuals must be able to successfully interface with others, regardless of their own or their colleagues’ personality types. While diversity of opinion, thought, experience, and personality has obvious benefits for professional development and organizational function, it can also inadvertently create friction or workplace tensions if not properly understood.
INTPs focus narrowly on their own responsibilities and core issues. They do exactly what they are asked and deliver high-quality results that “demonstrate expertise in tackling intricate problems” (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J., p22, CPP Inc., 1998). They are often drawn to professional environments which are quiet and that provide them the independence they need to work effectively. They can become distracted by frequent interruptions, such as e-mails, meetings, or even colleagues stopping by their desk to ask a question or make small talk, all of which require them to stop and restart tasks. Instead, they prefer to have meetings scheduled in advance so they can plan accordingly. They may even try to “block” meetings, or schedule multiple meetings consecutively, so they then have the remainder of the day to work in solitude. Similarly, INTPs may opt to check e-mails two or three times a day, instead of constantly keeping their e-mail open and prioritizing immediate responses. Those who work closely with INTPs should be patient with response times that may be slower than expected in the fast-paced modern workplace, or specify when an issue does require immediate attention. Making these expectations and needs known can decrease friction, prevent misunderstandings, and mitigate possible feelings of distance or lack of investment.
Unlike those with more “Judgment” tendencies, INTPs value flat, nonbureaucratic organizations that reward flexibility, independence, and creativity. They appreciate being able to come and go as they please and manage their own schedule. For instance, an INTP may decide to work late in the evening if they can arrive late the following morning. They also value being able to dress comfortably, so during the day they can focus on their work rather than their appearance. These standards reflect INTPs’ belief that employees’ performance should be measured by their work ethic and contributions to their organization rather than if and how they follow institutional norms.
Workplace Association and Interaction
Individuals’ Myers-Briggs Personality Type can also affect how they communicate and interact with their colleagues. Being conscientious of how these tendencies manifest can facilitate collaboration and foster understanding between coworkers, and can also help organizations create a workplace culture in which everyone can thrive.
While INTPs are inherently reserved and quiet by nature, they are typically friendly and congenial with their colleagues, employees, and supervisors alike. Their interactions may be subtle, such as giving a nod or smile in approval rather than effusive, verbal praise, but they nonetheless make their appreciation and closeness to others known. That said, INTPs rarely grant others respect solely or even primarily because of their position within an organizational hierarchy. Instead, they value accurate work, precise expression, and fair praise and incentives, and they evaluate others based on their contributions and potential. INTPs can be highly critical of those who make frequent errors or who they consider incompetent, and they do not hesitate to voice dissent or express disagreement, especially if they believe their values or others’ well-being are in jeopardy.
In group or team collaborations, INTPs contribute by systematically and expertly analyzing complex problems and situations. They have the ability to perceive patterns in large amounts of information, which allows them to focus on core issues as well as areas of improvement that will have the greatest impact. Once they fully understand the challenge as well as the situational features and constraints within which they are working, INTPs find and propose possible solutions. They prefer to be able to think creatively about solutions and have team members decide the ultimate course of action via consensus.
For INTPs, the most engaging part of a project is the problem solving process itself. As such, they may lose focus or interest when it comes to the logistics and monotony of implementation. This tendency can frustrate others on their teams, and can even create resentment if the INTP is allowed to move on to other pursuits while the remainder of their team is left to bring their vision to life. INTPs may benefit from showing increased sensitivity to others’ needs and feelings, as well as making a concerted effort to follow through on projects, even once the problem itself is solved. Those who manage or work with INTPs may find it helpful to frame implementation as a new problem or challenge – for instance, by identifying intermediate steps to be taken or benchmarks to be achieved before the final goal can be reached.
INTPs and Operational Efficiency
Every organization, from nonprofits to governmental departments to corporations of all sizes can benefit from having a diverse pool of employees of all Myers Briggs Personality Types. INTPs are inherently hardworking people who find adeptly find creative solutions to challenging problems, no matter what their role on a team is. However, they naturally gravitate to leadership positions because of their attention to detail, impeccable organizational skills, and strong wills. When an INTP is managing a team, they ensure that each member of their team knows what their role and expected contributions are, as well as the criteria by which they will be evaluated. INTPs believe that leaders must earn their teams’ trust, loyalty, and respect. They often start by extending this trust to others, for instance by allowing their employees the flexibility to achieve their goals in their own way. INTPs prefer managing employees who thrive with a level of independence, and they may even become frustrated by those who require too much structure or micromanagement. Because INTPs are strong willed and internally motivated, they may find themselves at a loss when confronted with an employee who seems disinterested in their assigned tasks or in their career path overall. As such, they produce the best results when the employees who work under or report directly to them are similarly motivated.
INTPs’ tireless pursuit of success and as well as their creative tendencies extend to their continuing education. They constantly work to expand their skill sets or find new applications for established abilities. These pursuits can arise organically, such as while finding a solution to an existing challenge or completing an existing project, as well as intentionally, by simply deciding to investigate an idea further. While INTPs understand that corporate professional development and assigned training may be necessary in some careers or organizations, they prefer opportunities to pursue learning in a more flexible way that allows them to focus on their own interests or needs rather than an established curriculum.
Using the MBTI® in the Workplace
Insights from employees’ MBTI® can provide the tools necessary for many different organizations to streamline communication, improve culture, and adapt workplace environment to benefit employees, clients, and ultimately the organization overall. Small changes, such as allowing a flexible rather than fixed lunch hour, or setting the expectation that meeting invites and agendas will be sent in advance, can give employees the optimal environment they need to contribute more effectively to their organizations. Because MBTI® influences nearly every aspect of human decision making, communication, and interaction, understanding its nature and function is essential in the modern workplace.
Introduction To Type in Organizations (Hirsh, S. & Kummerow, J. CPP Inc., 1998)