Certain parts of motivation are universal. To get someone to do a job, it’s usually necessary to pay them for their work. Achievement, recognition, and satisfaction with the work itself are motivating to almost everyone. As Maslow articulated (take a look at our first blog to learn more about Maslow), until basic needs like food, clothing, and shelter are sufficiently met, these needs will always be the first motivation before other needs like self-actualization and social needs become motivating factors.
Yet as we mentioned in this blog, 66 percent of workers aren’t engaged in their work, which means that we have to look beyond the universal motivators such as recognition, achievement and satisfaction. What the MBTI preferences tell us about personality differences gives us a little more insight into how we or others are motivated.
According the MBTI assessment, everyone has specific preferences for taking in information (preferences for sensing or intuition), making decisions (preferences for thinking or feeling), and whether or not you get energized by interacting with the external world (preferences for extraversion or introversion). When tasks can be completed in ways that are in line with those preferences, people are much more motivated than when they’re required to act outside those preferences. This may sound a little confusing but take a look at the below example.
When students are given multiple options of 1) attending a lecture, 2) studying the lecture notes, 3) reading the textbook, or 4) seeing an instructor during office hours, there’s a much better chance that the students will find a way to learn and understand concepts than if only one way of learning is offered. A student that prefers sensing might better learn the material through studying lecture notes and reading the textbook, where the material is organized and broken up into sections and chapters, and can be referred back to easily. A student that prefers intuition might learn the same material better by attending a lecture or speaking directly with the professor, where they can get an overview of the topic and ask questions to help them understand how the different parts of the information connect to each other.
Seeing People’s’ True Selves
Any work or school environment can benefit from the idea of giving people multiple options to learn or get their work done, and recently many companies have listened more closely to their people about how and when they’re most effective and motivated. You’ve probably heard about offices that have “quiet rooms” where people who prefer to get work done in a secluded environment can escape from the distractions and noise of an open office. Another example of the flexibility of the work space is break-out rooms, which offer a place where people who thrive on the stimulation of brainstorming and interaction (frequently those with preferences for extraversion) can bounce ideas off their colleagues without ruffling anyone’s feathers.
Access to flexible resources like the above gives people the feeling that their true selves are being recognized and accommodated, but can also be motivators alongside traditional methods of motivation like awards, public recognition and money. Often times when the people who are in charge fail to recognize these differences in preferences, it can alienate people and make them feel unseen (a common demotivation), even when traditional rewards like money or recognition are in place.
Motivation by MBTI Personality Type
Different approaches to taking in information (sensing or intuition), making decisions (thinking or feeling), and where you get your energy (extraversion or introversion) can play a significant role in motivation, but understanding more about personality preferences also gets to the bottom of how people think about the group, team, family or workplace they’re in and their role in it. Take a look at the brief summary below of what motivates each of the 16 MBTI types:
- ISTJs are motivated when they are able to work independently and control the use of their time, in a quiet, organized setting with few or no interruptions.
- ISFJs are motivated when they are able to apply their practical knowledge of processes and procedures to help people improve their lives.
- ESTPs are motivated when they are able to efficiently solve problems in the present without having to pay attention to future implications of their solutions.
- ESFPs are motivated when they can help the people who are important to them in immediate, practical ways.
- INTJs are motivated when they can devote their time to working on complex systems to describe their inner visions for the future.
- INFJs are motivated when they can transform their inner vision into plans and programs that can be implemented to enhance people’s lives.
- ENTPs are motivated when they can follow their inspirations to the logical conclusions to which they lead, without concerns about practical external constraints.
- ENFPs are motivated when they can follow their inspirations and ideals without needing to justify their approach and processes with too many facts and details.
- ISTPs are motivated by activities that rely on their sense impressions and memory for details, and that test their problem solving limits.
- INTPs are motivated when they can logically analyze and interpret ideas, and follow these wherever they lead without concern for irrelevant facts and details.
- ESTJs are motivated when they can take action to organize and accomplish work in a manner that gets things done effectively and efficiently without concern for future possibilities.
- ENTJs are motivated when they can develop and manage processes, organizations, or people in a way they believe will accomplish long-range organizational goals.
- ISFPs are motivated when they can live their values in a direct, hands-on fashion, and by working in environments where loyalty is prized over competition.
- INFPs are motivated when they can develop novel approaches to enacting their inner values in the outside world, with limited external restrictions or oversight.
- ESFJs are motivated by being able to find practical ways to collaborate with others in their work environment so they can accomplish organizational goals and values effectively.
- ENFJs are motivated when they can develop and implement grand, innovative, long range plans that promote others’ growth and development.
The MBTI is a useful and powerful tool for uncovering and understanding these preferences in people and teams (as well as in relationships and groups of all kinds). However, simply recognizing the existence of differences in needs for taking in and processing information and interacting with others, and the connection between fulfilling needs and inspiring motivation, can help us be more effective colleagues, students, teachers, friends and partners.
If you know your MBTI type, think about what motivates you. Do the above descriptions match what drives your motivation? Anything you’d add? If you’re currently working or in school, what could you do based on your MBTI type to help yourself stay motivated according to the above ideas? Let us know your type and what you think below in the comments!