Improve Manager/Employee communication styles

Many of my clients utilize personality type assessments to coach managers on how to communicate more effectively with their employees.  They have shared that their biggest challenge is providing useful tips that the managers can easily integrate into their day-to-day interactions with their employees. To address this challenge, I have created the table below which lists potential challenges or conflicts for individuals that have different personality preferences.  I also included suggested techniques that managers can try when communicating with individuals who have a different personality preference.


Employee who prefers…

Struggles with a manager who…

When communicating with an employee with this style…

Extraversion (E)

Communicates primarily through emails.

Does not make time to talk with the employee.


Allot time to discuss the employee’s concerns and ideas.

Solicit the employee’s input.

Recognize them verbally for a job well done.

Involve the employee in a variety of activities/projects.

Schedule brainstorming and collaboration into team meetings.

Introversion (I)

Wants to talk out all aspects of problems and interrupts private time when the employee is getting the real work done.

Let the employee speak first.  Actively listen to what they are saying (rather than focusing on what you will say next).

Slow down your actions (stop and think before you act).

Allow time and space for employee to do his/her best work.

Provide information prior to a meeting so that he/she can formulate ideas.

Sensing (S)

Doesn’t state expectations or goals clearly.

Doesn’t articulate how their vision specifically relates to the employee.

Implements new ideas without regards to what has worked well in the past.

Share direct and specific examples to illustrate the vision that you have (step by step).

Be careful to not implement unnecessary changes.

Recognize the employee’s experience.

Honor traditions of the team.

Intuition (N)

Immediately points out why new ideas won’t work.

Are too specific and make the employee feel “micromanaged”.

Does not allow the employee the freedom to figure out the approach on their own.

Provide the employee the data that you have and ask for insights on what it could mean.

Discuss why you are implementing a change.

Discuss challenges with the employee and ask for input on new possibilities.

Allow them autonomy in how to pursue projects.


Appear inconsistent or illogical.

Express emotion in the workplace.


Apply the same principles/rules to all employees.

Be direct and simple when providing feedback.

Hold firm to decisions that are made.

Be concise when leaving voicemails or sending emails.

Discuss the “pros and cons” and “if we do this…then…will happen”.


Managers who appear cold or detached.

Managers who do not make accommodations for employees who may have a unique situation.

Treat each employee as a unique individual whose special concerns must be taken into account.

Prefer to be recognized for accomplishments throughout a project.

Share with the employee who the key stakeholders are and who else has been included in the decision making process.

Go beyond work conversations to share personal facts and insights to the employee.


Delay decisions.

Change deadlines and then expects everyone to rush at the last minute to complete the project.

Does not provide a structure to work within.

Set deadlines and stick to the timeframe.

Follow through with work.

Allow plenty of time to produce high quality work.

Keep surprises to a minimum.

Reduce the options provided to the team.


Provides tight schedules and constantly monitors progress.

Enable employee to work at their own pace and in their own way to complete a project.

Be tolerant of interruptions to the work day.

Provide contingencies to the planned processes.

Allow flexibility in the work schedule if possible.


Recommended resources for more information

Type and Decision Making

Personality type indicators are one way that you can help guide individuals and teams through a systematic decision making process based on personal styles.  A popular model for decision making that leverages personality type is the zig-zag model or Z model.

Below is a summary of how each type prefers to implement a decision:

Extraverts typically will

         Feel comfortable taking a visible role

         Prepared to alter a decision to meet external demands

         Delegate liberally

Introverts typically will

         Feel comfortable working behind the scenes

         Be reluctant to alter a decision to meet external demands

         Delegate sparingly


Sensing types will typically

         Focus on attaining tangible goals

         What to have or follow precise instructions

         Feel motivated by connecting current actions to immediate benefits

iNtuitive types will typically

         Focus on attaining conceptual goals

         Want to have or follow general guidelines

         Feel motivated by connecting current actions to future possibilities


Thinking types typically will:

         See efficiency first

         Support the decision maker by supporting the decision making process

         Be tough when necessary to keep things on track


Feeling types typically will

         Seek cooperation first

         Support the decision making process by supporting the decision maker

         Be encouraging when necessary to keep things on track

Judging/Organizaing types will typically

         Establish time frames and identify milestones

         Expect to follow through and stick to the plan

         Minimize the interruptions and diversions in the interest of achieving the outcome


Perceiving/Adapting types will typically

         Introduce broad parameters and suggest optimal outcomes

         Expect to adapt and make adjustments to the plan

         Respond to interruptions and diversions in the interest of enriching the outcome

I was laughing as I pulled this list together.  I am in the process of a major life decision and I have found myself delegating liberally, connecting current actions to future possibilities, encouraging others to see opportunities and making adjustments to my plan constantly.  There is no denying that I am an ENFP.  Do any of these examples relate to your personal style? 

Personality & Transition Management

It is nearly impossible to meet all of the differing (and sometimes contradicting) needs during a period of organizational change.  However if you can understand how different types experience transition and cater to these different types within your organization, then you will be one step closer to making change exciting and positive!

Below are a few insights pulled from the book, Introduction to Type® and Change that will help you understand more about the 4 dichotomies and their varying reactions to change:

Extraversion/Introversion: During times of change, those who prefer Extraversion will want to hear and talk about the upcoming change so they can externally process their thoughts and feelings. In contrast, people who prefer Introversion will want time to reflect and may need some time alone to process the upcoming change internally.

Sensing/Intuition: When confronted with change, Sensing types will appreciate hearing the specific and realistic data that shows why changes must be made, as well as details about how things will change and what will be expected of them. Those with a preference for Intuition will be more concerned with whether the changes fit with their ideas about the future of the organization, and how the big picture will be affected.  They often will want to know why the change is happening in the first place.


Thinking/Feeling: To process change, Thinking types need logical explanations for the change, as well as evidence that the leadership is competent, and that the change is fair and objective. The Feeling types will be more likely to focus on how the people will be affected, and will want to see that leadership is concerned and compassionate, and that all involved parties are supported.


Judgment/Perceiving: Those who prefer Judging will want plans, schedules, and time frames for changes that management should be held accountable to. This helps them know there is an end point, and that stability will return eventually. Perceivers want flexibility in the plans, schedules, and time frames so that they have room to respond to new information, make midcourse corrections, and use their resourcefulness.


Understanding how different types perceive change is paramount to providing support and guidance to yourself and your team during transition. If you would like a deeper look at how the combinations of preference reveal employee patterns during times of change, check out Introduction to Type® and Change. This book will help you orchestrate positive organizational change by teaching you to:

          More fully understand your own reactions to change

          Recognize how change will impact the people that make up your work groups and organizations

          Stimulate organization-wide appreciation for differences during transition

          Develop organizational transitions that flow smoothly and are positively received

Could the personality of HR Executives impact their ability to communicate with the C-Suite?

HR Executive magazine printed an interesting article by Scott Flander that examines the personality of C-suite executives.  The data suggests that there are personality differences between HR professionals and other senior executives (operations, sales, finance, IT).  Check out the article here online at: HR Executive Online Magazine


Developing Great Leaders, A Measured Approach

Organizational analysis of revenues, profit margins, price per share and operational costs are essential but, they are not the only indicators of success. The quality of leadership must also be assessed.  Robert Devine, an Organizational Development Consultant, wrote an interesting white paper about using assessments to develop great leaders.  Enjoy…  

Developing Great Leaders White Paper

Type and stress

Thanksgiving is a happy time, full of family, food and fun. It is also known to kick off a season of holiday shopping, family obligations and other end of year activities that can induce STRESS.  Stress is when we experience the out-of-character version of ourselves.  It can cause us to appear to be irrational, out of control, unstable, and crazy.  The book, In the Grip, references this behavior and is based on the personality type theory of Carl Jung.  It introduces the inferior function-a usually hidden part of our personalities that emerges most dramatically during times of stress, fatigue, and illness. 

Some Chronic Stress Reactions Include:

  • Frequent expressions of anger
  • Outbursts of emotion
  • Withdrawal, avoidance of others
  • Conviction that others dislike them

 All types seem to benefit from a change of scene and physical exercise to get out of the grip.  Additional type-specific helps and hindrances are available in the book, In the Grip, 

Remember that stress doesn’t only impact us but, also impacts our colleagues, friends and family who surround us. 

Recommended Responses to Others in Stress:

  • Validate the concerns expressed
  • Try to understand the point of view described
  • Promise to think about, discuss with others, and see what you can find out about the issue at hand
  • Promise to meet and discuss the issue at a specific time

 Once you recognize when someone else might be in the grip of his or her inferior function, responding appropriately will: 

  • Keep you from making matters worse
  • Help you respond in a constructive way
  • Enable you to achieve enough distance to avoid triggering your own inferior function

 In due time, we can learn to appreciate and use the new and unique information we gain from ourselves and others when we or they are in the grip of the other side.  Knowing that these grip experiences are healthy and adaptive enables us to see them as temporary episodes from which we can benefit. 

Leveraging type to coach others

Coaching can be defined as the art of guiding a person to identify and develop his/hers strengths, recognize and learn to compensate for or manage blind spots or developmental needs, and strategize for career and personal development.

Each coaching situation is different.  However, the following general type and coaching process can be augmented based on available resources and past experiences:

Assess Type

Determine Strengths and Challenges

Evaluate Individual Needs

Asses Skills and Interests

Develop Action Plan

Incorporating type preferences can add valuable perspective to a team, but the person may need to plan for coping with the stress being different can produce.  Possible type tips for introverts and extroverts coping with differences are detailed below.

When you have a preference for Extraversion and your co-workers have a preference for Introversion, consider:

Networking with others outside your team

Asking team members to voice their ideas

Paying attention to the written word

When you have a preference for Introversion and your co-workers have a preference for Extraversion, consider:

Arriving at work early to take advantage of quiet time

Planning private breaks throughout the day to collect your thoughts

In meetings, voicing even partially thought-through perspectives

Personality type concepts bring a framework to the complex- and sometimes chaotic-interactions among people in the work world.  Exploring the general characteristics and developmental needs of other types can lend understanding to differing work communication styles and sources of stress, while reinforcing the idea that everyone has blind spots and shortcomings and thus might benefit from coaching.

More information can be found in the Introduction to Type and Coaching book.  This book is a planning tool for those involved in coaching others and a source of information about type and personal development for those being coached.