Friday, October 29, 2010

ISTJ? Endless Possibilities!

When I was teaching graduate school I would spend an entire class on personality assessments.  Most graduate students are in the work world, so almost all of them had experience with personality assessments.  I thought it was my duty to cover personality assessments because of the misuses of personality assessments.  After the introduction of the class subject I would introduce the Myers-Briggs and tell my students, “I’m an ISTJ and proud of it.”  At that moment there would be one or two students who would shyly glance up from their notebooks, a small smile would appear and I would know instantly who the other ISTJ’s were in the classroom.
Personality assessments are meant for personal growth and development.  But almost all the time, they are misused in business to categorize and cubby-hole employees – specifically defining what an employee is or is not capable of doing.  That’s crap!  My absolute favorite form of abuse in corporate america is when companies have employees put their “type” as a sign on their desk – leading other people to automatically misjudge that person without truly knowing anything about them except a letter or a bunch of letters – it is so abusive.  Another day for that – back to the ISTJ’s.
ISTJ’s are probably the most misunderstood of all the types and the most abused.  For too long – the ISTJ personality type has been presented in a negative and abusive manner. If you look at most written descriptions of an ISTJ or listen to a misinformed trainer describe an ISTJ, you would think that ISTJ’s are the nastiest people on earth.  After all, ISTJ’s are judging, number crunching loners with watches on both arms, sticky notes everywhere and whose main focus is our planning calendar packed with objectives and deadlines.  We can’t see the big picture, we over think everything and we aren’t sensitive to other people’s feelings.  That’s CRAP and yet people hear this crap over and over again in training sessions and classrooms.  Every time a negative generalization like that is used (it doesn’t matter who’s smiling when it’s said) its abuse.  Since the ISTJ is an extreme type – it tends to be the one type that is most often written up using language that doesn’t contain positive terms and leads to negative stereotypes.  ISTJ’s can’t change stupid trainers or authors, but ISTJ’s can take charge, change their lives and excel higher than anyone could imagine – if they are serious about their personal development.
The ISTJ is a magnificent personality type that has the opportunity to excel at anything they try.  Keep in mind the purpose of the Myers-Briggs is for personal development.  If the Myers Briggs is presented in a positive – personal-growth oriented manner that doesn’t negate, abuse or stereotype any particular type, the ISTJ will listen and learn.  If the ISTJ takes the Myers Briggs seriously (oh and they can take things seriously) as a personal growth instrument the chances for self-improvement are off the chart.   When an ISTJ is presented with positive techniques for personal growth and success, your high ISTJ is going to really think about that (T), quietly mull it over (I), take a close look at areas that currently aren’t working for them (S) and identify how they can improve their life (J) and make a detailed plan to make it happen.  When an ISTJ learns to embrace personal growth opportunties like the Myers Briggs continuum – get out of their way cause something really special is going to happen.  And…….the possibilities become endless.
If all of your ideas of what an ISTJ is are based on canned stereotypes from corporate training, you’re missing out.  If you really don’t know an ISTJ, you really truly don’t know what an ISTJ is capable of doing or being.   The true friends of an ISTJ will tell you that they are gregarious and extremely compassionate.  The bosses who truly understand and develop their ISTJ will tell you not only can they work well on teams, but they can see the big picture AND they can bring the big picture results - on-time and on or under budget.
ISTJ’s - grab that Myers Briggs continuum, and learn about the other styles / types. Focus on your personal growth and opportunity for success.  Don’t let any article or trainer hold you back or stereotype you.  If someone (who matters) gets obsessed with your ISTJ sticker – tell them that’s only part of your personality – there’s a lot more.  Learn how to use all the different aspects of your personality – as you need them – in your daily life. If you choose to be all you can be (which I know you can) you will set the direction of your life and as Dr. Seuss would say – “Oh, the places you will go.”

Two videos worth 30 minutes of your time.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Crazy Bosses - Passive Aggression in the Workplace

Over the past ten years, I have had some really lousy bosses.  I have pondered for two days why that may be so and I keep coming back to one main thing that has made my worklife suck for the past ten years –passive aggressiveness.

I remember when I first started my career in management. It was acceptable to get into disagreements with bosses and co-workers – argue, voice your opinion - even loudly and no one walked out of the meeting worse for wear.  By the end of the meeting, most everything was out in the open – people had expressed their views and we could go on with life and work.  When I worked on the East Coast – this was also true.  Unfortunately in the Midwest, we have an epidemic of “passive aggressiveness”.

A passive aggressive person will go into a meeting, agree to almost everything that happens in the meeting and then spend the rest of the day or week, building a “band of lieutenants” to dismantle what happened in the meeting, while they backstab and gossip about the other people in the meeting.

Having a passive aggressiveness boss sucks and it is becoming a prevalent management style. Passive aggressive (PA) management needs to be added to all the 21st century theories on management, as it is becoming a major style of management.  The internet is at the forefront of the writing on PA bosses, as it has thousands of articles about passive aggressive bosses. 

What are signs you are working for a passive aggressive boss?  
ý     You send emails to your boss – and they get ignored or my favorite, “lost”
ý     You send a new marketing idea to your boss – and the idea gets ignored or becomes their idea. 
ý     You get an invite for meeting - 3:00pm on the Friday before a long holiday weekend. 
ý     You get called into a 45 minute meeting 5 minutes before you’re suppose to leave.
ý     Your boss is always late for meetings.
ý     When you call in sick - expect multiple calls at home during the day about "things that can't wait until tomorrow".
ý     Your boss does an end-run around a project you are working on – even though you thought you had their full support and agreement on the project. 
ý     Your boss divides the department into – haves and have nots, or favorites .
ý     Your boss is verbally abusive when no one else is around (to you and about others).
ý     Every day you say to yourself “I can’t believe they did that.” – but, you know they did do that.
ý     Every day you walk in the building and ask yourself, “Is today going to be a good day or a bad day?  and you cringe.
ý     No one works as hard as your boss does, or puts in as many hours as they do – and yet……they leave the office almost every day at 5. 
ý     You go home at the end of the day, most days, and wonder if you still have your job.  If your boss wasn’t passive aggressive – you would know where you stand most of the time.
ý     One huge indicator of a passive aggressive boss is micro-management.  My current boss is into NANO-management..

Why is it important to talk about passive aggressive bosses?  Because a passive aggressive boss is a danger to you!

In the workplace the passive aggressive boss will rob you of your self confidence.  They will make you doubt and question yourself – constantly.  They will make you worry about “when is the bottom going to drop out” – again.  They make you question your own abilities to the point where you question your own sanity.  With a passive aggressive boss – you have the issue, not them.  They will steal your self-esteem.  They deflate the morale of the entire department or company.  They make people cry.

Passive aggressive bosses will rob you of your mental health – which can lead to long-term physical health issues.  The stress they create can lead to depression, ulcers, heartburn, anxiety attacks, migraines, nausea, muscle pain, high blood pressure, and other stress related physical health issues.

What can you do about your passive aggressive boss? Nothing – they are insane, deranged, demented, mentally unhinged, mad as a March hare, off their rocker, nutty as a fruitcake and of unsound mind.  You can’t fix them.

What can you do for yourself?  Take care of yourself.  Protect yourself.  You need to find a different place to work where you are respected.  You need to find a new job where your contributions are showcased.  You need to make every day – about you – about keeping yourself healthy and moving forward, until you can leave.  Make your current job the best it can be by learning more and taking on more, so you will be ready to leave when the time comes.  And most important – don’t become your boss!

Not sour grapes, ‘cause I really don't care - it's just my thought for the day

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Personality "Tests" - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I am focusing this post on the ordinary person who is trying to make their way as a part of today’s workforce. Please -  don’t try to make more of it than it is meant to be.

Personality assessments have become the bane of our society because of the misuse of personality assessments in almost all corporations.  You notice I did not use the phrase “personality test” - a test (by definition) has a right or wrong answer, personality assessments do not have a right or wrong answer, the responses show “differences”.  Yet industry has repeatedly deemed personality assessments as a “test”, with a supposedly right and wrong answer for each statement and has completely ruined the initial purpose of the assessment.  Shame on you industry!

I taught management courses at the graduate level for a long time and one of topics I always covered was the proper use and benefits of personality assessments (Myers-Briggs, DISC, Situational Leadership, etc).  A personality assessment is designed to be a development tool!  As a development tool – personality assessments have a strong background of documented reliability and validity.  A personality assessment is designed as an instrument to help people grow and develop.

A personality assessment is NOT designed to indefinitely cubby-hole people into a specific quadrant of a model.  A personality assessment is NOT designed to label people for the rest of their lives (corporate and personal).  A personality assessment was NOT designed as a device to hire specific personality types for cloning an organizational culture.  Cubby-holing people and labeling people requires there to be a right or wrong answer on the personality assessment and there is no right or wrong when it comes to personality, there’s just difference.  You are who you are and that’s wonderful and should be celebrated!

If you search the internet you will find lots of advice on how to cheat on a personality “test”.  Why?  Because personality assessments are misused and people feel they have to cheat in order to pass – that’s really stupid – a personality assessment has no right or wrong answers, just different responses.  The premise of having to lie to pass a personality assessment could be construed as proof of the misuse of personality assessments. Why would you want to lie about who you are?  Lying about who you are doesn’t make you a better person / employee – it brings out a negative part your personality, “being a liar”.  Lying on a personality assessment to get a job at a company puts you in a work culture that does not value who you are as a person – do you really want to do that to yourself?  Lying about who you are devalues you as a person – why would you want to do that to yourself (no job is worth that)?

Personality assessments are designed to make you whole and successful – not put you in a miserable box for the rest of your life.  You should never be ashamed of who you are – but you should be open to developing and using the different parts of your personality that at hidden and not used the most.  The only way you can find the “hidden” parts of who you are is by taking a personality assessment.  Knowing the results of a personality assessment can help you tap the different parts of “personality” that you have and by doing that become a more vibrant and successful person.

So what is the true meaning of a personality assessment?  The purpose of a personality assessment is to help you grow and develop and become the best person that you can be, based on the situation you are in.  First of all it is important to recognize that you are NOT one personality type.  Your full personality has every type of personality possibly, some hidden some more predominant.  You have the ability to be the best person you can be, by knowing what you are strong at and what parts of your personality may need to be brought out in different situations.  If you are a high “I” – then you know there are situations that you will need to dig deeper and pull out the “E” in your personality.  If you are a high “Assertive” you then know there are times in your life that you may have to pull out the high “Passive” in your personality.  If you are an “S1” you know that your goal is to grow / advance your skillsets in order to be able to move to an “S3” or S4” so you can contribute fully, be successful and grow in the organization.  The use of personality assessments is all about your personal success!  It’s all about you being able to grow and develop as a person.  It’s not about what is right or wrong!  Personality assessments are about the results and your ability to put those results to work!

You may ask, if what you say is true (which it is) why are personality assessments misused in industry?  Most common reasons are (1) Because it suits industry’s purpose or (2) Because industry chooses to be ignorant to the true purpose of the personality assessment or (3) The corporation is not interested in your development – they want to cubby-hole you as one specific personality type (for a reason).  Whichever one it is – it’s wrong and industry’s that are misusing personality assessments should be ashamed. 

The final note:  Use personality assessments to grow and develop. No one type of personality is inherently better than any other personality type – each has its place in this world (although most businesses will argue that).  Be true to yourself – you are who you are and that’s not a bad thing.  Not everyone is the same personality and that’s not a bad thing – be yourself! Remember that your personality strengths are important.  Keep in mind that your personality may change as you age and experience difference significant life experiences – the personality you are today may not be who you are ten years from now.  Be proud of who you are and who you can be, the goal of the results of a personality assessment is to help you grow and develop.  Don’t put yourself in a work culture you won’t fit into by lying on a corporate personality assessment.  Know that there is no right or wrong answer on a personality assessment – unless industry wants there to be and that is wrong!  Be open to growing as a person based on what you know about your personality and striving to use your whole personality – don’t cubby-hole yourself or let others cubby-hole you – be open to using your whole personality, now and in the future. 

Take a personality assessment - review the results. Identify your strengths and the areas you need to pay more attention to.  Do not accept the results of the assessment as defining what you can't do or be.  You can be or do anything!  Use the results of the assessment to set a path of personal personality development -  to be the best person you can be.  It's going to take a little work on your part - but the results can be amazing!

Not sour grapes, 'cause I really don't care - it's just my thought for the day!