Why having a MBTI debrief matters
Why having a MBTI debrief matters
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is recognised as being one of the world’s leading psychometric personality profiling tools. But taking the test is only half the story. Here’s why...
I have been using the MBTI for over 25 years. Whether it’s been focused on leadership development, personal development or team building, the MBTI has helped countless people discover their differences and similarities with others, as well as providing insights in to their own strengths and overdone strengths.
An important part of taking the MBTI is not just completing the 90 or so questions on the official MBTI test – yes, beware there are many others available which are not the official test – it is also very important to have a professional debrief from a suitably qualified practitioner.
Having a quality debrief will help you interpret your results and discover your true (also known as best fit) Type rather than simply relying on understanding your reported Type.
What is meant by a MBTI 'reported Type'?
A MBTI reported Type is exactly what it says. This is the Type that is directly indicated by a person’s MBTI results.
Sometimes a reported Type may be inaccurate.
Why can a reported Type be inaccurate?
The MBTI questionnaire provides instructions for people to be themselves when answering the questions. When answering the questions people are encouraged to resist answering how they’d like to act. Instead, they are asked to respond as to how they will actually act.
In simple terms, to give an accurate result the person completing the questionnaire needs to have their “shoes off’. It will end up being a case of ‘garbage in, garbage out’.
However, on occasions people may complete the questionnaire by being subconsciously influenced by things going on around them. For example, they may be experiencing situations at work which may mean they need to behave in a certain way.
What is meant by a 'best fit Type'?
A best fit Type is that identified and established as a result of an MBTI debrief session delivered by a qualified MBTI practitioner. In my experience up to 30% of debriefs end up with a best fit Type that differs from a reported Type. Hence the importance of having a quality debrief.
Best fit Types are identified by the MBTI practitioner following best practice in terms of the debrief process and asking insightful questions to confirm the person’s preferences. Examples are given and discussed in a solutions-focused, conversational style. The overall aim of the person who has taken the MBTI is to choose their best fit Type from the 16 MBTI Types that are available. For people with slight preferences this may take time, but it’s time worth spending.
Here are some examples that demonstrate the benefit of clarifying best fit Type
- A person reported as an extravert but saw themselves as an introvert. This is because his work environment demands he talks and communicates with peers and team almost constantly. Our debrief conversation established that his reported extraversion (E) was out of sync with preference for introversion (I). This helped to explain his near exhaustion at the end of the working day as, typically, introverts find extroverting very tiring.
- A person with a real passion for concrete evidence, data and detail (normally associated with Sensing preference S) reported as an intuitive Type (N). However, our discussion using a range of examples enabled her to realise that her role required her to trust her intuition and think creatively. She said she did this by using others in her team to help push her own thinking in different directions but, at the end day, it was facts and detail she trusted.
- A person who reported a Thinking preference (T) felt that this was unlike them outside of work. Working in a commercial organisation where objectivity and analysis viewpoints are favoured over subjectivity and feelings (typically F preference) had strongly influenced his responses. Our discussion revealed that the workplace culture had given him an unconscious bias when answering the questions. His best fit profile included an F rather than the reported T.
- A person who is working in a very rule-driven, project management environment reported a Judging preference (J). However, when exploring their Type in greater detail, they recognised that their personality preferred a more relaxed approach to deadlines etc. They felt that although the deadlines were necessary, they found them constraining. This is typically associated with the P preference. Consequently, this person felt frustrated at work by colleagues asking for quick closure and unnecessarily tight deadlines.
In summary the MBTI is a fabulous personality tool to use. But it needs to be used sensibly and correctly.
People are complex and I feel that it is impossible to sum up a person’s complete personality by simply asking 93 questions. However, when combined with an insightful debrief which enables a person to explore which Type suits them the best, then the MBTI can help on both an individual and team level. I know from my own experiences that knowing one’s MBTI best fit Type can be career, and therefore, life changing.
Director & Senior Consultant