Updated: Dec 8, 2022
In late 2016, the Philadelphia 76ers had a problem: too many big men. For a professional basketball team, an abundance of near seven-footers may seem more like an embarrassment of riches than a problem, but what became known as the 76ers Big Man Log Jam left them with three potential starting centers when they only needed one. Their strategy of drafting the best available player each year had left their talent lopsided instead of spread out over all three positions and their three centers unhappy with reduced playing time. Instead of enjoying success after a rebuilding period, the Sixers have one of the worst records in the NBA.
Assembling a team in the business world can follow the same pattern. Managers tend to hire employees who are similar to them, often ending up with a lopsided team. It’s not surprising: if you get your best ideas in a group discussion, you will seek employees who are outgoing and quick thinkers. If you are motivated by company loyalty, promotions, and raises, you will hire similar go-getters. If you prefer to work on your own, you’ll prefer workers who don’t require a lot of feedback and interaction.
The problem with this reality is evident: teams function best when they respect a variety of talents, approaches, and skill sets. And unfortunately we all have personal bias toward our own strengths, so we tend to see differences as weaknesses. Using personality testing such as the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) can help us see these differences in a value-neutral framework and reduce team conflict.
MBTI measures a range of personality preferences, but let’s look at one preference that has a big influence on a team’s success: decision-making. We make decisions in one of two ways. Thinkers prefer an objective process of decision-making. They rely on logic, facts, precedents, and analysis, and they are outcome focused. Feelers prefer to use values to make decisions. They consider any decision’s effect on the people involved and try to gain consensus. They are impact focused.
MBTI expert Otto Kroeger said that “a successful company is one that balances its logical task orientation (Thinking) with an awareness of the human element required to reach those tasks (Feeling).” Teams that only make decisions based on an outcome--such as a specific sales goal--can alienate loyal customers or lose valuable employees. Teams that only make decisions based on their impact on others--such as a switch to a less generous health plan--can put their company in financial jeopardy. Thinkers don’t need to become more like Feelers, but any successful team will comprise both Thinkers and Feelers. Don’t feel like you have any Feelers on your team yet want their input? Consider which of your employees everyone turns to in times of stress. More specifically, look at your office manager, or employees who work human resources or training. Feelers are often drawn to these fields.
Understanding these inborn preferences can reduce team conflict as members start to see these differences as valuable components of a healthy team rather than problems. If you have a team that has just begun working together or that has experienced conflict, consider using MBTI assessments to bring your team together. Contact the LMC Group for testing and team workshops at email@example.com.