Articles Hero Image

How Would You Work, If You Had the Option?

Posted 16 Aug 2016 by Rich, Divisional Director of Research
No Image Available

Certain parts of motivation are universal. To get someone to do a job, it’s usually necessary to pay them for their work. Achievement, recognition, and satisfaction with the work itself are motivating to almost everyone. As Maslow articulated (take a look at our first blog to learn more about Maslow), until basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter are sufficiently met, these needs will always be the first motivation before other needs like self-actualization and social needs become motivating factors.

Yet as we mentioned in this blog, 66 percent of workers aren’t engaged in their work, which means that we have to look beyond the universal motivators such as recognition, achievement and satisfaction. What the MBTI preferences tell us about personality differences gives us a little more insight into how we or others are motivated.

According the MBTI assessment, everyone has specific preferences for taking in information (preferences for sensing or intuition), making decisions (preferences for thinking or feeling), and whether or not you get energized by interacting with the external world (preferences for extraversion or introversion). When tasks can be completed in ways that are in line with those preferences, people are much more motivated than when they’re required to act outside those preferences. This may sound a little confusing but take a look at the below example.

When students are given multiple options of 1) attending a lecture, 2) studying the lecture notes, 3) reading the textbook, or 4) seeing an instructor during office hours, there’s a much better chance that the students will find a way to learn and understand concepts than if only one way of learning is offered. A student that prefers sensing might better learn the material through studying lecture notes and reading the textbook, where the material is organized and broken up into sections and chapters, and can be referred back to easily. A student that prefers intuition might learn the same material better by attending a lecture or speaking directly with the professor, where they can get an overview of the topic and ask questions to help them understand how the different parts of the information connect to each other.

Seeing People's’ True Selves

Any work or school environment can benefit from the idea of giving people multiple options to learn or get their work done, and recently many companies have listened more closely to their people about how and when they’re most effective and motivated. You’ve probably heard about offices that have “quiet rooms” where people who prefer to get work done in a secluded environment can escape from the distractions and noise of an open office. Another example of the flexibility of the work space is break-out rooms, which offer a place where people who thrive on the stimulation of brainstorming and interaction (frequently those with preferences for extraversion) can bounce ideas off their colleagues without ruffling anyone’s feathers.

Access to flexible resources like the above gives people the feeling that their true selves are being recognized and accommodated, but can also be motivators alongside traditional methods of motivation like awards, public recognition and money. Often times when the people who are in charge fail to recognize these differences in preferences, it can alienate people and make them feel unseen (a common demotivation), even when traditional rewards like money or recognition are in place.

Motivation by MBTI Personality Type

Different approaches to taking in information (sensing or intuition), making decisions (thinking or feeling), and where you get your energy (extraversion or introversion) can play a significant role in motivation, but understanding more about personality preferences also gets to the bottom of how people think about the group, team, family or workplace they’re in and their role in it. Take a look at the brief summary below of what motivates each of the 16 MBTI types:

The MBTI is a useful and powerful tool for uncovering and understanding these preferences in people and teams (as well as in relationships and groups of all kinds). However, simply recognizing the existence of differences in needs for taking in and processing information and interacting with others, and the connection between fulfilling needs and inspiring motivation, can help us be more effective colleagues, students, teachers, friends and partners.

If you know your MBTI type, think about what motivates you. Do the above descriptions match what drives your motivation? Anything you’d add? If you’re currently working or in school, what could you do based on your MBTI type to help yourself stay motivated according to the above ideas? Let us know your type and what you think below in the comments!