Leading your team virtually is not easy. Like many of you, I find myself now constantly navigating Zoom meetings and WebEx calls, hopping on webinars, and having more conversations with colleagues through text messages. If you manage a team, it is advantageous to understand what different individuals need in order to be successful while working remotely.
Researchers at The Myers-Briggs Company looked at the impact of working virtually based on Myers-Briggs Personality Types (MBTI). One of the biggest challenges for online meetings is keeping everyone engaged. As a result of one study, researchers provided the following recommendations for leaders to consider based on the different personality preferences. We have adapted them to fit the needs of the workplace.
For team members with a preference for Extraversion, leaders should:
- Give them a chance to develop ideas through discussion with the others. The breakout room feature (available on many virtual platforms) allows for great discussion opportunities.
- Allow unmuted verbal questions as well as interactive feedback using the chat feature, hand-raising function, and emotive reactions.
- Promote active participation in the process. Ask open-ended questions.
For team members with a preference for Introversion, leaders should:
- Build in time for them to reflect and develop ideas internally before responding—this could be in the form of pre-work before the meeting and follow-up tasks.
- Provide them with written as well as verbal information and instructions.
- Give them the opportunity to work or reflect alone, in addition to group discussions.
- To the best of your ability, ensure on your end that the meeting is led from a quiet environment, with protection from interruptions.
For team members with a preference for Sensing, leaders should:
- Provide clear and sequential directions, information, and explanations.
- Share concrete examples and practical applications for the topic or meeting objectives.
- Show appreciation for thoroughness and attention to detail.
- Include ample specific data to back up your conclusions.
For team members with a preference for Intuition, leaders should:
- Allow room for flexibility and creativity in reaching the goals of the meeting.
- Lay out the big picture and a framework that links the meeting objectives to the discussion or work tasks.
- Allow space for getting off topic, brainstorming, and developing new ideas that may lead to a richer learning experience.
- Not insist on one “right” way but rather provide alternatives or allow room for exploration.
For team members with a preference for Thinking, leaders should:
- Provide a logical explanation for the objectives.
- Allow time for questions and analysis of the topic or meeting objectives.
- Build in opportunities for them to consider the pros and cons and weigh alternatives.
- Provide a sense of fairness in how the rules and procedures lead to accomplishing the tasks.
For team members with a preference for Feeling, leaders should:
- Incorporate feedback and recognition regarding progress and successes.
- Make a connection showing how the topic, workflow, or meeting objective impacts people and relationships.
- Create live connections between participants during the meeting as well as follow up individually afterward.
- Show respect for individual values and how they may impact their work.
For team members with a preference for Judging, leaders should:
- Provide structure, clear goals, and a schedule.
- Stay organized and respect stated timelines.
- Celebrate completion of tasks and reaching goals.
For team members with a preference for Perceiving, leaders should:
- Make room for flexibility on the completion of goals, possibly in the form of pre- and post-meeting due dates that allow individual freedom within a larger time frame.
- Recognize the value of spontaneous contributions to the meeting or workflow.
- Make space for new information that may be relevant.
Even if you don’t know the exact preferences and Myers-Briggs personality types of each of your colleagues, these recommendations help to provide a well-rounded experience for everyone. Consider who is on your team and how you can adjust your approach to fit their individual needs. Also, knowing your own Myers-Briggs personality type means you can look at what the opposite preferences need. Be sure to address those as they are likely a gap or blind spot for you.
Thompson, R. C., Haynie, S. R., & Schaubhut, N. A. (2018, 2020). Myers-Briggs Type and Working Virtually. Retrieved April 10, 2020, from The Myers-Briggs Company: https://www.themyersbriggs.com/download/item/21FA58661304468CB1F07F704DAA1EBF