Have you ever noticed that the various people in your office have very distinct personalities? For instance, your manager might be an ISTP who is adaptive and action-oriented, while the CEO of your company may be an ENTJ who is confident and assertive. These differences demonstrate just two of the 16 work personalities a person can have.
Based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), work personality types refer to how individuals approach and engage with work tasks, coworkers, and their environments. Just like in the example above, you too have a unique work personality that can significantly impact your career and workplace success. For example, if you’re creative, innovative, and enjoy working among a team in fields like marketing or design, you may be an ENFP. If you’re introverted, have strong attention to detail, and excel in jobs that require precision and accuracy, such as law or engineering, you may be an ISTJ.
No matter your position or title, knowing your work personality can benefit your career by providing insight on how to handle conflict, develop assertiveness, communicate effectively, and build strong relationships based on mutual understanding and respect. Additionally, when you understand your work personality, you can choose a career suited to your strengths that allows you to work well with others, communicate, and grow in areas that need improvement.
In this article, learn the various work personality types and how each one can thrive in their roles.
- Work personality types are based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
- 80% of Fortune 500 companies use personality tests to assist in the hiring process. Such assessments are prevalent among consulting firms, including Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, Bain, Deloitte, and Accenture.
- According to reports from The Wharton School and Facebook, the personality testing market is worth about $2 billion and growing.
- Research indicates that employee personality traits that benefit the workplace include high levels of conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability.
- People don’t necessarily fit one personality type perfectly, plus it’s possible to adjust one’s behavior to improve professionally and personally.
What Is the Myers-Briggs Personality Test?
Many companies use personality assessments to reveal work personality types, including Myers-Briggs, to help hire and train the right employees. According to MBTI, the “16 work personality types” are determined by traits including how extroverted and intuitive someone is, plus how they judge, feel, sense, and think about information.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator was created by the mother-daughter team Katharine Cook Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers. They based their personality test on the theories of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung.
Briggs and Myers were interested in understanding individual differences in personality, including among children and adults, and believed that Jung’s theory of psychological types could be a useful tool. They developed the MBTI in the 1940s and 1950s. It has since become one of the world’s most widely used personality assessments.
According to the Myers & Briggs Foundation, the official publisher of the MBTI, the assessment is taken by approximately 2 million people every year. MBTI has been translated into more than 30 languages and is utilized by companies in a wide range of fields, including marketing, education, accounting, finance, and many others. In addition to businesses, MBTI is used by organizations such as the United States military, non-profits, and universities that help with career counseling.
Aside from MBTI, other types of personality assessments are used by companies to help evaluate employees and steer their development.
One popular example is the Big Five Personality Traits, also called OCEAN, which stands for:
This model categorizes people based on their level of creativity, intellectual curiosity, conscientiousness, extraversion, assertiveness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and emotional consistency.
What Determines Someone’s Work Personality Type?
According to Myers-Briggs, each personality type is based on four dichotomies:
- Extraverted (E) or Introverted (I): This refers to how individuals gain energy and focus their attention. Extraverts tend to be outgoing and energized by social interactions, while introverts prefer quiet environments and may find social interactions draining.
- Sensing (S) or Intuitive (N): This dimension is related to how individuals perceive information. Sensors tend to focus on concrete, observable details, while intuitives are more likely to focus on abstract patterns and underlying meanings.
- Thinking (T) or Feeling (F): This takes into account how people make decisions. Thinkers tend to use logic and reason to make decisions, while feelers rely more on personal values and emotions.
- Judging (J) or Perceiving (P): This refers to how people approach tasks and deadlines. Judgers tend to be organized and planful, while perceivers are more flexible and adaptable.
While most people lean toward identifying with one MBTI personality more than others, some exhibit traits from multiple personality types and may not fit neatly into any single category.
Most surveys suggest that based on the MBTI, the most common personality type, and therefore one you’re likely to encounter in the workplace, is ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging). This type is described as practical, logical, and detail-oriented, with a strong work ethic and a preference for structure and order.
The 16 Work Personality Types
1. ISTJ (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)
- Nickname: “The Logistician”
- Traits: Dependable, practical, and organized, with a strong work ethic.
- Strengths: Being reliable, hard-working, and ready to take action. Very likely to meet deadlines and follow the rules.
- Weaknesses: May struggle to adapt to changes and pivots. At times, they may come off as rigid or judgemental if others can’t keep up with their level of detail.
- How they work best: Needs a workplace that’s stable and predictable with clear guidelines and responsibilities.
2. ISFJ (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)
- Nickname: “The Defender”
- Traits: Compassionate, detail-oriented, and committed to quality work.
- Strengths: Loyal and supportive employees who will defend others and stand up for what they believe in.
- Weaknesses: May become easily stressed when change is required or when dealing with difficult people. May also have a hard time delegating and accepting help.
- How they work best: Prefers open communication and working for companies with clear values.
3. INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging)
- Nickname: “The Advocate”
- Traits: Insightful, visionary, determined, loyal, and dedicated to helping others.
- Strengths: Concerned with the well-being of others and naturally compassionate.
- Weaknesses: May become restless and frustrated if they don’t believe that goals or rules are based on meaningful values.
- How they work best: Prefers privacy and the ability to work either alone or in teams. Most feel motivated when they know they’re contributing to something important and making a difference.
4. INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging)
- Nickname: “The Mastermind”
- Traits: Strategic, analytical, organized, decisive, and independent.
- Strengths: Hard-working, great at conceptualizing complex systems, dependable, and capable of working on their own.
- Weaknesses: May not respond to change easily, especially if it’s sudden and unannounced.
- How they work best: Desires a structured environment with clear guidelines that are also challenging and stimulating. May prefer to work alone rather than in teams.
5. ISTP (Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving)
- Nickname: “The Craftsman” or “Tinkerer”
- Traits: Resourceful, adaptable, rational, and action-oriented, with a knack for troubleshooting and staying calm.
- Strengths: Known for being optimistic and remaining calm and collected during stressful times. They can pivot when needed and find humor in situations even when they’re difficult.
- Weaknesses: May struggle to stay committed to goals long-term because they enjoy doing shorter-term tasks.
- How they work best: Prefers to be trying new things, completing interesting tasks, and using their physical bodies and hands to stay engaged.
6. ISFP (Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving)
- Nickname: “The Adventurer”
- Traits: Artistic, sensitive, flexible, and passionate. Sometimes called “The Adventurer.”
- Strengths: Typically have lots of energy and passion for creativity and aesthetics. They’re also adventurous and adaptive to change.
- Weaknesses: May not be great at planning ahead or following strict guidelines. At times, they can become self-absorbed if passionate about their work, leading them to neglect other team members.
- How they work best: Needs freedom to pursue innovative projects and to work at their own pace. Introduce them to new projects and responsibilities regularly to keep them engaged.
7. INFP (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving)
- Nickname: “The Thoughtful Mediator” or “Healer”
- Traits: Empathetic, idealistic, and imaginative.
- Strengths: Thrives in creative roles that allow them to think for themselves. They enjoy contributing to goals and helping others.
- Weaknesses: May overlook deadlines and details if they become too engrossed in creative tasks, plus may become overwhelmed if progress isn’t being made.
- How they work best: Prefers to work alone rather than in teams. Enjoys seeing the “big picture” and understanding how their efforts make a difference.
8. INTP (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving)
- Nickname: “The Analyst” or “Logician”
- Traits: Inventive, curious, and logical.
- Strengths: Has a deep commitment to personal values and great skills for solving complex problems. Can think outside the box in abstract ways to be innovative.
- Weaknesses: May struggle to open up and share with team members. Can sometimes seem insensitive and unemotional.
- How they work best: Prefers guidelines instead of strict rules, especially if they seem arbitrary. Is often private and enjoys working alone.
9. ESTP (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Perceiving)
- Nickname: “The Entrepreneur” or “Persuader”
- Traits: Bold, competitive, driven, and prone to risk-taking.
- Strengths: Willing to work hard, innovate, and take risks to pursue success. They’re interested in absorbing knowledge, working for themselves, and speaking up for what they believe in.
- Weaknesses: May feel stifled when working in traditional or rigid organizations. Can also become disengaged and bored when new ideas and projects aren’t being introduced.
- How they work best: Needs new opportunities and cutting-edge work. Ideally, give them independence within a flexible workplace.
10. ESFP (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving)
- Nickname: “The Performer” or “Entertainer”
- Traits: Fun-loving, energetic, and sociable, with a natural flair for performance and being in the spotlight.
- Strengths: Great at handling attention and social situations. They tend to do well in sales positions, performance roles, and hospitality. Their charisma makes them memorable and helps them form relationships.
- Weaknesses: Prone to boredom if they aren’t stimulated, are working alone, or aren’t given credit for their work.
- How they work best: Prefers to work in collaborative, fun environments and with team members that are equally high-energy and sociable.
11. ENFP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving)
- Nickname: “The Champion” or “Campaigner”
- Traits: Enthusiastic, charismatic, concerned for others, and great at inspiring team members.
- Strengths: Possess great people skills and positive energy that helps them form relationships. Also good at coming up with ideas that benefit everyone involved.
- Weaknesses: May struggle to stay on task, meet deadlines, and pay attention to details.
- How they work best: Prefers to work in teams and innovative environments. They feel motivated by coming up with new ideas and brainstorming solutions.
12. ENTP (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Perceiving)
- Nickname: “The Debator” or “Devil’s Advocate”
- Traits: Quick-witted, innovative, energetic, and confident in their beliefs.
- Strengths: Great at debating and thinking quickly, plus willing to stand their ground during conflicts.
- Weaknesses: May be argumentative at times or stubborn. Can become bored in environments that are not simulating enough.
- How they work best: Give them new projects to tackle and learn about, plus independence. They prefer flexible workplaces with open rules rather than strict guidelines.
13. ESTJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging)
- Nickname: “The Commander” or “Overseer”
- Traits: Hard-working, ambitious, honest, and decisive.
- Strengths: Natural leaders who can make decisions, organize projects, and plan well.
- Weaknesses: May struggle when working with people who think differently than them or who are less productive or goal-oriented.
- How they work best: Prefers to work in fair environments that recognize hard work, dedication, and commitment.
14. ESFJ (Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging)
- Nickname: “The Supporter” or “Provider”
- Traits: Supportive, nurturing, positive, and conscientious, with a focus on meeting the needs of others.
- Strengths: Great “team player,” capable of making others feel comfortable, seen, and heard.
- Weaknesses: May be overly sensitive at times and struggle to take feedback or might require too much reassurance.
- How they work best: Prefer workplaces that clearly define roles, give positive feedback often, and recognize high-quality work.
15. ENFJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging)
- Nickname: “The Cheerleader”
- Traits: Charismatic, inspiring, and empathetic.
- Strengths: Great at connecting to others, motivating themselves and their teams, communicating, and lifting others up.
- Weaknesses: May lose motivation if working alone for extended periods. Can become frustrated if the workplace lacks communication.
- How they work best: Prefers to work in teams and to communicate often and clearly. They thrive in supportive workplaces where trust and feedback are freely given.
16. ENTJ (Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging)
- Nickname: “The CEO”
- Traits: Confident, charismatic, assertive, and strategic.
- Strengths: Can lead others and collaborate to solve complicated problems. Often capable of motivating others. Can uphold boundaries and remain firm.
- Weaknesses: May be confrontational at times if other team members don’t hold up their end of work equally.
- How they work best: Works well with teams, as long as others put forth equal effort and are competent.
Examples of Different Personality Types at Work
Here are a few examples of how different personalities may act at work:
- Someone high in extroversion and sensing (such as an ESFP) will gather energy from those around them. They enjoy social situations, having fun, and engaging in conversations that aren’t just “surface level.”
- Someone high in thinking and judging (such as an ENTJ) will be practical and efficient, as they value order and rules, making them effective enforcers, managers, or bosses.
- Those high in thinking and perceiving (such as an ISTP) will value knowledge and understanding, so they’re often curious about the origins, details, and backgrounds of projects. If this same person is introverted and high in sensing they will be self-reliant, hands-on, and enjoy learning through their five senses, but they may shy away from coworkers.
- Those high in feeling and judging (such as an ISFJ) value personal growth and self-awareness, so they usually strive for continuous improvement and want to make a significant impact.
Managing Team Members With Different Personality Traits Creates an Inclusive Culture
Even if employees don’t necessarily identify with only one workplace personality, it’s still beneficial to learn about one’s own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses. When everyone at a company understands each other better, the entire team benefits from improved relationships, engagement, and performance.
Below are ways that leaders can manage different work personality types to promote collaboration:
- Respect how others work best: Be flexible and open-minded to “meet people where they are,” which helps utilize their natural gifts. If possible, accommodate different work habits and preferences by offering hybrid schedules and work-from-home options.
- Ask questions and listen: Proactively gather employee feedback using interviews or questionnaires. Encouraging team members to share their ideas, opinions, and concerns in a safe and supportive environment helps build trust and cohesion.
- Praise and acknowledge achievements: Offer positive feedback to build morale and motivate employees to continue working toward the team’s goals.
- Clarify goals and expectations: Be sure that team members clearly understand their roles and responsibilities, as well as the team’s overall objectives. Use intentionality when assigning tasks by considering which employees are best suited for projects and responsibilities, such as those requiring solo versus collaborative work.
- Provide opportunities for skill development: Help people develop their skills in areas like communication, time management, and conflict resolution through training, coaching, and mentorship.
Interested in learning more about building effective teams? Check out this article: “How to Create a Team-Oriented Workplace Where Employees Thrive.”
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