Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Posts tagged ‘Myers Briggs’

The Pioneers get the arrows – the Settlers get the land

Guest Blog by  Bill Long 

Do you feel like no one is listening to you sometimes?

Understanding personality types will improve your understanding of the way people gather and process information and ultimately make decisions.

Understanding basic human behaviour and factors that influence decision making processes helps us assist the farm businesses we support to achieve their goals more effectively. There are many reasons why people choose to operate farms, some far more powerful than money. While advisors tend to deliver lots of data and information in order to persuade growers to think about a change in practice, intuitive decision making processes are preferred by farmers and are fed by a range of factors including formative years and adult learning experiences, family values, beliefs, emotions, gender, genetics and needs during the various stages of life we go through.

This article discusses just one of these factors – personality type and its influence on farmer (and human) decision-making process.

Creating frameworks to describe human behavioural patterns can be a useful way to anticipate individuals’ responses to situations. Understanding personality ‘types’ can help our understanding of likely behaviour and assist us in understanding our own and others’ abilities and preferences to perform tasks. Once some of these behavioural patterns are understood, we can tailor our approach to supplying and using information with individuals.

Strachan (2011), reports on one of the few attempts in Australia to define the rural culture using the Myers Briggs type indicator. The data source of this study came from 3000 farm managers and employees working in six major agricultural industries across Australia over a 15 year period.

The profiles of people working across a range of agricultural industries were compared with the Australian standard sample.

Table 1. Distribution of “temperaments” in selected rural industries. Strachan (2011)

SJ SP NT NF
Beef 57% 25% 13% 5%
Cropping 52% 25% 17% 6%
Intensive 57% 22% 15% 5%
Australian sample 42% 13% 26% 18%

The” SJ” temperament (52%) describes a culture that is less likely to adopt new ideas and will resist change. Decision makers within “SJ” temperament need to be convinced of the need to change. As a group, “SJ” adults tend to define themselves by their experience and they have a deeper investment in its value. Unless there is a clear and desperate need to change, “SJ” types prefer to stick to set procedures, established routines and historic precedents to guide them and prefer practical, concrete problems rather than theoretical or abstract concepts involved in adoption of new ideas. The ideas need to be complete, packaged well, have the relative advantage for change clearly evident, need to be compatible with current practices and thinking (not too way there), simple to adopt with a short term return on investment obvious. They are the most risk adverse type.

The “SP” types (25%)are impatient with abstraction and theories, often have a “do it now and fix the details later” approach to problems and take a flexible and adaptable approach to organising their time. They don’t mind taking risks and like the “SJ’s” like concrete problems and prefer guidelines and take a step by step approach to problem solving and learning.

The “NT” (17%) type strengths include problem solving and understanding complex systems. They enjoy pioneering almost anything and like to start new projects and may have trouble sustaining interest after the design phase. They value logic and knowledge. Intuitive (N) types are more likely to tackle new ideas –they are willing to “have a try” at new technology without having the fine detail “packaged “for them. Often the detail simply isn’t there. This may not be the most successful approach to long term business success as the “cost” of new learning in farming can be extremely high. Being the “first” to try new technology often results in mistakes being made along the journey resulting in crop damage and lower yields.  This type is the obvious type to approach to try the latest technology.

The “NF” (6%) types value authenticity, integrity and harmony – may see their life as one long search for meaning. They are great participatory decision makers – focussing on the people in the organisation. They have energy and enthusiasm for the things they believe in and can have a tendency to ignore problems in the hope they will go away. These types could be approached to organise group events and collaboration on new ideas. They engage well with others.

Although these frameworks tend to categorise individuals as having certain behavioural traits, it is important to recognise that these traits or types are really ‘preferences’ to type. It does not mean that individuals can’t behave differently. By creating awareness of one’s preference to automatically react or behave in a particular way, we can train ourselves to deliver and respond in a different manner if desirable.

Recognising that we don’t all think the same way is the first important step in delivery of information. Just because we might like information presented one way, that doesn’t mean others have the same preference. We can modify our message delivery techniques to include all personality types and get our message across more quickly and effectively.

With approximately 80% of the farming population being “S” types, it is of little surprise that new and innovative technology that might excite an “N” type may take a while to be adopted.   Think about the way your information is packaged and presented. And after that is done, consider some of the personal reasons (values, beliefs etc.) that might influence decision making process.

Now they’ll listen!

Personality J’s and P’s

In NZ with Sara Heard

Welcome to the fourth blog about the Myers Briggs  Type Indicator (MBTI) and a few tips about how I relate this to facilitation.

Judging Types (J) like to get things settled and finished, work best when they can plan their work and follow the plan. Are self-regimented, purposeful and exacting. So yes you guessed it; J’s like to have the agenda and stick to it. They like workshops to run to time and finish on time. J’s can find it stressful if the workshop runs over time as they probably have something else in their schedule.

Perceiving Types (P) adapt well to changing situations, they are happy to leave things open for alterations as time progresses. They live according to the situation or moment and adjust themselves easily. P’s love a constant flow of new experiences -they are curious, flexible, adaptable and tolerant.

From a facilitator perspective (as a J myself) I always have breaks on time and finish on time. I have learnt over the years to take a flexible approach to the material or process in the workshop and not provide a “too exacting” or detailed agenda. (remembering to provide enough detail for the “S” Types) This approach enables to J’s to feel we are on time and a sense of control but enables to P’s to explore the material in the workshop and satisfy their curiosity.

One of the challenges for me is co-facilitating with a P who may not have the same “importance of time” I apply to my sessions. As a J something I find the most challenging is when we have agreed on a timeframe for topics and the P I’m working with runs overtime – reducing the time for my section of the agenda.

You have probably worked out the MBTI is a passion of mine – I love to observe personality and behaviour – link to frameworks and consider how this might apply to my work and life. I’m currently developing a workshop on adoption of technology which I’m finding really engaging – working in flow with the time disappearing as I become more creative! Typical behaviour for an INTJ :)

More of this in later blogs.

I would love to hear your thoughts or comments on my personality blogs areas for more discussion. 

Personality Types again

This blog brings us back to the discussion about personality types in facilitation and workshops. We are up to discussing the Feeling/Thinking dichotomy in Myers Briggs which is how we make decisions.

Thinking (T) types make decisions more logically and analytical, focusing on facts – they can appear critical. Feeling (F) types take into consideration their values and beliefs and the impacts on people in their decisions.

As a T, it wasn’t until I co-facilitated with an F several years ago that I realised I didn’t do a very good job of catering for F types. This wonderful woman looked after the comforts in the workshop, she focused on lollies, food, water on the tables, making the environment as comfortable as possible – all common sense I know but what I noticed was the way she went about it.

She also was fantastic at hosting people as they arrived, ensuring they were introduced to someone and felt welcomed into the training room. I watched and learnt from her warm friendly approach.Years later we were complimented by a workshop attendee about how comfortable she felt when arriving at one of our training events, something she told us, wasn’t wasn’t common for her.

The theory of MBTI refers to F children who don’t like the teacher having trouble learning and how T types look for competence in the teacher. In adult education this reminds us of the importance of establishing competence with our group as well as making them feel comfortable.

T’s like to know the person in front has the skills, qualifications, experience and credibility to be facilitating or delivering on a topic. Once you have established competence they are more open to learning and enjoy debating and analysing information.

Finally I have found F types are very good at “picking up on” emotions in others including myself as the facilitator.  Be careful about your own projections – leave your emotional baggage at the door and be there 100% for the participants.

Next week I will focus on the final dichotomy – Judging and Perceiving.

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Personality type and facilitation

This post follows the theme of my last post “Facilitation begins with you” understanding yourself and your style when facilitating.

In the last blog I focused on VARK as a model this time I start personality types. I like to use the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI). It is more complicated than many other simple types with only four quadrants however it provides a more in-depth understanding – particularly if like me you don’t fit easily into one of the quadrants.

I am an INTJ – in simple terms an introvert, big picture, logical and organised person. What do I need to consider as a facilitator when working with different types?

As an introvert I need some time out to rebuild my energy levels. Lots of interaction can be tiring to an introvert as compared to an extravert who gains energy from other people. When I’m facilitating I see this as an opportunity to practice being my opposite and many people in the group are often surprised to find out my type.

To manage this I need to give myself time out if possible in the breaks and especially at the end of the day if the workshop is for two days. I don’t facilitate for more than 2 days in a row and I make sure I get plenty of rest between workshops.

Co-facilitating works well for me as it gives some break time during the workshop to build up my energy.

Introverts also like to think before they speak – this can be challenging when you are the deliverer and another reason while I prefer a facilitative approach compared to deliverer. As the facilitator I draw on the experiences of the individuals in the group to answer questions from the floor – “What do members of the group think about that?” is a great way to deflect the question, buy some thinking time and draw on all of the vast experiences of the adults in the room.

Keep in mind the “think before speak” and provide time for the introverts to think about answers before group input  - they prefer not to be put on the spot unless it’s a topic they are knowledgable about.

My next blog will focus on the S/N (detail vs big picture) dichotomy in MBTI.

Please feel free to share my blog with your colleagues and friends and provide me with any feedback – it’s the best way to learn!

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