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Monday, January 30, 2017

Aligning Values and Culture—the Undersung Secret to Success


By Catherine Rains, CPP Education Consultant, and a New MBTI® Certification Program Trainer

A successful career entails not only identifying a career that gets you excited, but also finding an organizational culture that meshes with your values. The culture of a particular company might be a product of its wider industry, or it might be unique to that organization. Either way, your “cultural fit” will have a deep impact on your success. If the fit is off, you may find yourself frequently experiencing difficulty communicating, feeling that you’re speaking a ‘different language’, while missing opportunities for promotions/rewards, and eventually experience stress and burnout (Hammer 2007). A solid cultural fit, on the other hand, will allow you to more fully engage with your work.

The kind of work that we enjoy doing is heavily influenced by our personality type preferences. However, whether or not we gel with a certain organizational culture is just as important a factor in our enjoyment and success within a work position. This will largely be determined by our values, which can also be described by our personality type. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) assessment identifies this (Briggs Myers 1998) with the two middle letters in our four-letter type (for example, the ‘NF’ in ENFJ).  The second MBTI “letter”—either S or N—describes how we take in information. Those preferring Sensing (S) like specific, practical and tangible information, while those preferring Intuition (N) focus on the big picture, and look for connections between facts, seeking patterns and possibilities.

Contrast these to the the third MBTI “letter”--either T or F--which addresses how we make decisions. Those preferring Thinking (T) look at logical consequences, and mentally remove themselves from the situation. On the other hand those preferring Feeling (F) consider what is important to them and others involved, and mentally place themselves in the situation at question.

Connecting the dots between values and culture
The various combinations of these preferences align with workplace cultures in interesting ways. Here are a few examples:

Do you want to solve complex problems? Those preferring NT (Intuition/Thinking)  often gravitate toward professions like engineering, architecture, high-tech, research, business analysis and strategy-driven consulting, and feel at home in organizations that emphasize strategic planning and innovation.

Do you like to provide a practical service to others ? Do you like to frequently interact and collaborate with colleagues? Did you love  group projects in college? These drives are common for those preferring SF (Sensing and Feeling), who often gravitate toward healthcare, teaching, social work, travel, hospitality, non-profit and customer service. However, these days collaboration is highly prized in just about any industry and is often considered a hallmark of innovation. Therefore, you can find a company in a range of industries that pushes for a highly collaborative and interactive culture.

Do you feel a strong innate desire for accuracy and precision? Do you often base your decisions on data and numbers, or find yourself seeking out concrete numbers when learning something new? These inclinations are common for those preferring ST (Sensing/Thinking), who often feel at home in practical service-oriented industries/organizations such as finance, actuarial work, accounting, science and the military.

Do you think about the future possibilities for people, and feel the call to make a long-term and meaningful impact for humanity? Those preferring NF (Intuition and Feeling) want to make a difference, but may be more concerned with making an impact over the long term. These folks often find cultural fits in counseling, coaching, human resources, non-profits, higher education and HR, the arts, and will feel at home in purpose-driven organizations that stress internal harmony and growth.
These are of course only a few examples of how these preferences align with various workplace cultures. The more you know about yourself and your values the more sound  your decisions will be. Now, with that in mind, what do you envision as your ideal cultural fit?

*Hammer, A.L. (2007). Introduction to Type and Careers. Mountain View, California: CPP, Inc.
**Briggs Myers, I. (1998). Introduction to Type. Mountain View, California: CPP, Inc.




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