Fostering a Fit: When who You are Isn’t What you Do In every team workshop I do, I always make it clear that any type can do any job, and be effective at doing so. In a well-known book by Nancy Schaubhut and Richard Thompson called “Type Tables for Occupations”1st edition, 250 different occupations are presented of which 199 of them include representation by all 16 types. Of the remaining 51 jobs, 15 types are represented. Although our preferences tend to impact our choice of careers based on what we find naturally attractive about the role (see previous blog post on Self-Selection career choice here), they do not limit us – or our effectiveness- at performing jobs that also seem counter to our innate type. However, we do know that our preferences – that is, who we are at our core – provide our natural source of purpose, energy and comfort. When an individual is forced to be “out of preference” too often or in some cases on a constant basis, they may report feeling drained, disengaged or in many cases, stressed. When individuals need to “become” someone different to fit in with a pre-established or unspoken culture of an organization, there may be an extreme misalignment of what is expected versus what they naturally find comfortable. While they may still enjoy the content of their work itself, these are the people who often struggle to feel confident or completely engaged in their role or with their team. Ultimately, if these considerations are not addressed, loss of productivity, lack of motivation, and turnover may be the result. If you’re one of these individuals, the answer is not to (necessarily) up and quit – although you may feel like it sometimes. Instead, it may just be about getting back in touch with things at work that renew and replenish your energy and engagement levels. In this way, by starting to simply ‘inject’ who you are back into what you do, this may allow you to embrace who you are and what you do in a more harmonious fashion and often, simultaneously. Moreover, you may even find a way to put your own unique ‘personal stamp’ on what you do, optimizing your value and potential even further. To re-inject who you are into what you do: 1) Understand your role through temperament Focusing not only on the content and structure of your primary role, but on the motivators or mission behind the tasks may bring renewed engagement to your work. SJ Preferences: Make sure that in any work that you do, you preserve the ability to define your own structure, uphold your responsibilities and remain organized. These are the tenets of your contribution and comfort. By maintaining this approach wherever possible, you will feel more engaged. SP Preferences: Does your work allow you some spontaneity and the ability to respond to last-minute challenges that arise? If so, embrace these opportunities to the fullest while also looking for more through other tasks and projects. These are the situations in which you shine! NF Preferences: For you, remember the journey. If this role allows provides you purpose, and you think of it as pertinent to your personal and professional development in the long-term, you will find the energy you bring to your work comes much more naturally. NT Preferences: For NTs, the greatest motivator is curiosity – if your role allows you to ask questions and play the part of ‘explorer’ sometimes, this will be an important thing for you to maintain, or seek more of. If not, you may need to look for more frequent investigative opportunities. 2) Seek out tasks that compliment your Dominant Cognitive style. Introverted Sensing: Recalling Tasks that build on prior experience and allow you to contribute in a practical way to concrete results will get your brain ticking and help you reach that optimal flow! Especially if these projects allow you the process of refinement and editing. Extraverted Sensing: Experiencing For my extraverted sensors, you will want some variety and some challenge in your tasks – seek out opportunities for you to do work in different physical spaces and with different people – your brain will thank-you for it. Introverted Intuition: Intuiting The key will be a task that provides an opportunity for concept creation – perhaps an innovative product or future strategic planning! By engaging in these activities as frequently as you can, your brain will be doing what it does best – as a result, you’ll feel contributory and energized. Extraverted Intuition: Brainstorming Seek out tasks or projects where you are given free rein to explore possibilities and new ideas. In organizations, there will often be ‘red tape’ at later junctures, but by being brought in on the early conception stage of a project, you will find yourself naturally energized by the process. Introverted Thinking: Analyzing Seek out tasks or opportunities that require independent refinement of ideas, accuracy-checking (editing for example), reframing data and challenging assumptions. Extraverted Thinking: Systematizing The more tasks that allow you to quickly and systematically organize and implement solutions in a timely and efficient matter – the better. Introverted Feeling: Valuing Try to find tasks within your role that provide an opportunity to listen to differing perspective and points of view; an example might be to chair an important meeting or to play ‘lobbyist’ for your department. Extraverted Feeling: Harmonizing Extraverted feelers are the ‘catalysts’ of the workplace. You will be re-energized by opportunities to bring others together toward a goal in a cooperative environment. Seek out opportunities for you to embrace these natural gifts. 3) Voice your Needs This is probably the most important tip of all. If something is missing from your job that is keeping you from feeling satisfied, contributory or competent, the biggest challenge is to indeed – ask for it. Often times, the individuals we work with cannot relate or understand what we need, simply because they may be different from ourselves. This is especially the case in a climate or organization where you are in the minority of preference types. However, if you’ve identified an area or opportunity (from this blog post or otherwise) that you believe would bring you closer to feeling that ‘fit’ that we all need at work, making that request transparent will not only benefit you (they may in fact try to accommodate!), but will also benefit the organization. Everyone needs to recognize the need to adapt, accommodate and embrace one another in order to capitalize on the various contributions of people. Only then can the true benefits of diversity be realized, and perhaps you represent something they’ve been overlooking. By forcing them to make constructive use of valuable differences, your teams and departments will be all the better for it. Originally published in December, 2014.