Using the MBTI® Instrument to Improve Communications about Change

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In an economic downturn, the relationships that lie at the heart of organisational life are under threat. Employees are handling increased instability in their industry and in their own jobs; resources are often stretched to the limit, and busy managers struggle to find the time to motivate and inspire.

More than ever, it is important for organisations to retain rather than re-train. In this fraught environment, the MBTI® instrument can be a lifeline. Its template for individually tuned communication is a first-rate way to inspire employees with the confidence they need to excel in their jobs – even in tough times.

Why should leaders use the MBTI® framework to help communicate change messages?

Leading a group through change calls for attention to detail. This includes listening to the needs of individuals, being as honest and open as possible about the facts and their impact and understanding mistakes of the past to ensure that any negative patterns are not repeated. This leadership effort also requires creation and sharing of a vision that is believable and inspirational to a diverse group of employees, all of whom need to hear something they haven’t heard before.

This is a familiar challenge for many leaders, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. The language of the MBTI tool provides them with a ‘safety net’ or framework that makes sure everyone’s perspective is represented in the communication of important change messages. Less aware leaders tend unconsciously to give a disproportionate amount of airtime to the voice of their own preference, particularly under pressure, and may neglect the needs of people with other preferences when communicating change.


Using the MBTI® instrument to improve your communications about change

  1. Hear yourself as if for the first time.
    For the individuals who will receive news about changes, it’s new information, whereas the teams delivering the news are likely be in a different, more accepting place in the change cycle. Anticipate resistance and subjective questioning, and be ready to explain what, by now, may seem obvious to you.
  2. Pace your team. Different MBTI preferences respond to change at different paces. Try to manage the balance between the impatience that some preferences have to ‘get on with it’ with the need others may have for the opportunity to engage in reflection. Be patient in allowing time and space for people to think through and absorb the impact.
  3. Keep messages simple and consistent. Consistency of message is vital to create a ‘safe’ environment that enables people to engage with change. Keep messages straightforward and be sure that all members of the senior teams are fully aligned behind them, or trust will quickly be broken.
  4. Think macro and micro. Messages need to simultaneously address the bigger picture and overall purpose, as well as the detail and actual process in equal measure. This responds to the needs of those with Sensing preferences and the needs of those with a preference for iNtuition.
  5. Work to win minds and hearts. Think about matching the logical case for change (Thinking) with the careful consideration of the needs of the individuals affected (Feeling). While there may be persuasive business reasons for change, you also need to sketch out the human implications as positively as possible; often, it’s as valuable to point out the consequences for people if change doesn’t happen.

This article is reproduced by kind permission of OPP, European distributors of the CPP portfolio. It originally appeared in their online newsletter ‘OPPinions’.


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