Advice » Job Hunt Strategy» Career Assessment » What's Your Work Style?
What's Your Work Style?

What's Your Work Style?

Know Thyself to Know Others

Know thyself. It's some of the oldest advice in the world and still some of the best. Knowing what you can do, what you like to do and how you like to do it is the starting point for finding the right spot for yourself. Understanding how your personality and work style affect you can lead you to an understanding of personalities and work styles, making you a more effective manager. 

Knowing your own work style and having a vocabulary for thinking and talking about work styles is important. The most widely used tool for identifying your personality type and working style is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The MBTI was developed by Katherine Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers. They based their work on the theories of Carl Gustav Jung, a Swiss psychologist. In its classical form, the MBTI is a paper-and-pencil exercise that takes about half an hour to complete and must be evaluated by a qualified facilitator.

"It's not a test," stresses Bob McAlpine. "It's an indicator, a wonderful tool for helping people understand who they are and identifying their primary sources of energy."

McAlpine is president of Type Resources, a Louisville company that qualifies people to administer the MBTI and similar instruments. McAlpine's knowledge of the MBTI and the supporting research is deep, and his patience in explaining the theory and practice of personality typing is endless.

"Jung's theory identified eight types of mental process," he says. "Each of us can use them all, but there are those we prefer. If we see other people using those we don't like, we say they're weird. Myers-Briggs lets us say they're not weird, they're just different. Then we can begin to figure out how we can work with them with respect."

Personality type affects all our interactions with others. "In business, senior managers may not be comfortable talking about values," McAlpine says. "But if I'm a CEO and I have difficulty telling you what's important to me, how can you be equipped to make the best decisions -- decisions I'd be most comfortable with? Or how about a board of directors that has decided the CEO has to go. What brought that about? I wonder how much of it we could bring right back to typology. Turnover rates, retention issues -- it might be interesting what organizations might find if they could explore what's here."

Type -- if we know how to decode it -- gives us a model, he says, for how we might expect a person to prefer to use those different mental processes. "It's not pigeonholing," says McAlpine. "It would be unethical for me to give you the MBTI and then say you prefer these processes so you should do this or that. But you can look at the results and say, 'Yeah, this really fits,' or 'No, this isn't exactly me.'"

Work Styles

"Any person can be successful at any job," says McAlpine, "yet some people are more comfortable -- have a more positive experience -- at one job than another. If we look at the mental processes used in the job and the processes preferred by the person, there's a high correlation. We're not talking skill, but if interests match requirements, people are more successful."

The Myers-Briggs methodology outlines eight types of mental processes that provide a foundation for a personal work style. If you understand Myers-Briggs, you can use your knowledge to identify this process language, and respond in that process, according to McAlpine. "If we're communicating using one process, we can even move to another process and continue to communicate. But I've got to be careful if I try to move you, because I might pull you out of your comfort zone. There's an energy flow. If I'm in my comfort zone, I'm gaining energy, but if not, I'm losing energy."

This can be applied to all kinds of communication, says McAlpine -- job interviews, building teams, training situations. "When I go for an interview, if I know the language that will be expected, I can prepare myself," he says. "When I'm coaching with a subordinate, what language is appropriate? What's my preference? Do I need to shift my language and approach to be more effective? If I'm a CEO going into a meeting, what am I attempting to convey, who am I speaking to, what's the appropriate language?"

This means using Myers-Briggs types flexibly, he points out -- to consciously choose to work within particular processes to match needs, not to say, "I am me, therefore I speak this way." If you're working with a team, you need to be prepared to deal with all the associated emotions and resistance that gets so close to who we are.

"The same thing applies to strategic planning," he says. "At a certain place in the planning process, we need to pull more from some processes than others. We need to understand that some are easier for us to access than others, that what comes from some processes may be easier to share with others, and from other processes more difficult."

For individuals, he says, what's most important is using your knowledge of your own preferred processes and alternatives so that you take a more holistic approach and you reach a better decision.

Career Styles

Myers-Briggs can be very useful in considering career and job changes. McAlpine points out that most of us have had jobs that are a bad fit. If we had been equipped to analyze the situation going in, we might have been able to say, "It's a great job, but there are things we don't align on, and it's not who I am."

But there is danger, he says, in treating what we know about our personality type as a given, fixed and unalterable. We change and develop, he says, and we must recognize that in ourselves as well. "Jung identified these processes and said life is about learning to use all of them, about moving toward wholeness," says McAlpine.

McAlpine stresses that people do change. We can learn other processes, just as we learn other languages, and become comfortable in them. And our understanding can help smooth the transitions: "From a holistic perspective, people might find as they reach mid-career that they want to move to other things. They find that typology gives them a tremendous opportunity to understand what's going on as they see their interest shift."

Articles in This Feature:

Latest Jobs

Posted: 05/22/2015
Indianapolis, IN, 46219
Tarpon Point Nursing and Rehabilitation Center
Posted: 05/22/2015
Sarasota, FL, 34235
Shambaugh & Son L.P.
Posted: 05/22/2015
Fort Wayne, IN
Posted: 05/22/2015
Private Company
Posted: 05/22/2015
Katy, TX, 77494

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile


Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
Create and connect.
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.


100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2015 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2015.8.0.34-314