I am sharing some insights of my life in the corporate world and how personalities are perceived and how external pressure shapes you. The focus of this little series will not be the psychology of things but more the things I observed in past and my long time in the corporate world. I have never been in a very high management position so my views are mostly from the “front line”.
Please enjoy but please note that everything I write is based on my personal experiences and opinions.
– Part 1 –
When you work full time in a corporate environment like I do, then the need for people to compartmentalize you as a person (i.e. put you in a box), is quite strong. Especially if you work for team leads and managers who do not really know a lot about people management or just don’t care and want to get by or look good in front of more senior managers.
In my personal experience this is true for 95% of all team leaders and lower level to middle managers.
Cue the Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator: The test many of the corporate types will do at some point. Around 6 years ago I did my first test. I didn’t believe in it at first and thought it was all a bit rubbish. I just didn’t like being put into a box so some manager can talk to me in a specific way and put me in a box. I thought “How can they just not talk to us and form their own opinions and why do they need some test to understand us”.
Mentally, I was resisting.
However, at the time, the pressure of the workplace and the fact that this was a big deal with an offsite and all, I felt I had no choice but to take the test.
So, I answered all these questions on how I interact with people and what my preferences in a social setting such as a party are. As with most things I tried to be honest and besides: I love filling out forms.
After a while, we were given our results based on the questions we answered and the result for me was ISTJ – which in effect means I am an emotionless robot who hates people, is incredibly shy and loves to count numbers. In other words: A thoroughbred analyst. I would need facts and nothing but facts and everything has to be decided in the most rational way.
Now, at the time it was probably, partially true. It was a long time before I started to rediscover myself and I was still under the influence of years of people telling me what I can’t do (emphasis on can’t) and what is expected of me. At the time it was clear that I was thought of as an analytical guy and because I am German I was also told that I must love rules a lot. On top of that I am an introvert. All this together means, I am seen as an analytical guy who can’t handle people and who struggles in a social setting. This was driven into me so hard that I started to believe it all. This of course informed my decisions further down the line.
I did apply for roles involving people management but did so half heartedly thinking I won’t have a chance anyway (more on that in a later blog post). I looked at other people in their leadership roles and felt jealous as I thought: I could do this! Why am I not allowed to do it? But the reality is that we are all responsible for our own luck in that regard. We, and myself in particular, seem to forget that sometimes.
What has changed since then? A lot actually. I have been feeling quite disgruntled at work for a while now. Some time ago I have been betrayed by a manager. Mind you, I had been betrayed before but this was different. I don’t want to go into all the details just now but it involved something I really liked and wanted to do but was taken away from me in a manner I cannot forgive. I was also blamed for it and told off for “not being happy enough” in the aftermath.
This resulted in me leaving a job I loved and started something else which I didn’t love so much but kind of knew how to do. I got bored really quickly and even more disgruntled and I decided to leave. The leaving bit is very hard as I have worked for that company for a long time. My mind has to be ready and I needed/need to rediscover myself. This is an ongoing process and brings me back to the above mentioned Meyer-Briggs test.
A few weeks ago, I took the test again and surprise, surprise, my profile is not ISTJ but INFP!
This is a very different proposition to the previous result. Mind you, these profiles are a little bit similar but it turns out my preferences are that I need to be much more emotionally bought into the work I do and I care a lot about people. And reading my detailed profile I kept on saying to myself “well, if you actually think about it, this is quite true for me”. It was scary how accurate the profile turned out to be.
I can’t go into all the ins and outs of the profile but what I did was, I completed the test on http://www.16personalities.com and then paid them for a detailed workbook and description for my personality type. Reading through the workbook a lot of things became a lot clearer and the job paths I could take were really helpful to me.
INFP means I am a mediator personality type who seeks harmony and is interested in people. I become emotionally attached to most of the things I do and especially work has to have a meaning to me.
What struck me the most was that, at several points within the workbook it was mentioned that I do not really thrive in a corporate setting and that I should steer clear of that.
I am really looking forward to exploring this in more detail and I hope I can find a new job within the next few months as I would really like to do something different and I am pretty much done, doing things I don’t like.
You only live once right?
– End of Part 1 –