How to Be Productive and Creative: Fitting In To Your Company

My picture nameWe all want to be productive and creative, but it isn’t always easy. One big reason is that if we are working in a company which doesn't complement our personality, unless we can work out an accommodation, we become frustrated and discouraged -- a square peg in a round hole.

If we're a judging type person (dedicated to making decisions based on our values or logic), we like to get things settled, even if the results are a little sketchy. If we're working in a perceptive company (which likes to look at all the options before it leaps, taking in more information in a practical or imaginative way), we'll likely have a problem. The shape of the problem is that there's nothing wrong with the company, but it gets on our nerves because we'll likely be continually frustrated by the lack of decisiveness and firmness in the system.

What we tend to do is look around for allies in the system. This group of people, or that department in the company, often carries on a nonproductive guerilla war, on personality lines, with the larger part of the company.

If, on the other hand, we're a perceptive type person working in a judging company, we'll likely be very frustrated by the need for management to push for decisions without decent consultation and when the options haven't been explored properly. We too will likely cooperate with others of our perceptive persuasion to push against the major direction of the company, with as little success.

These battles cut into the productivity of the company, and usually change nothing. The personality direction of the company has been decided at a much higher level than individuals can affect. We cannot change things, only increase our frustration.

Much of this compatibility issue may get resolved in the natural course of things. We all tend to choose careers based to a large degree on our personality type, what we like and what we're naturally good at. If we are trained as an accountant then we're likely a sensing thinker (practical and logical). Most accounting firms have a sensing thinking orientation. When we join one, we'll feel like we've come home. But if we're required to do the accounts for a feeling perceptive (values-based and stubbornly open-ended) company we may well feel that, like Alice, we've dropped down the rabbit hole into Wonderland, and everybody is a bit crazy. Hard to be productive or creative in such an environment.

Judging organizations, like where I worked for 12 years, tend to like to sharply define everything. If they're thinking (logical), policies and procedures and standing orders are a must, and should be carefully followed. If they're feeling (values), their focus tends to be on expectations and concerns, people problems. If you are an intuitive (inspirational), you will likely feel, as I sometimes have in the past, that there's little room to breath. Everything feels regimented, decided often in a funny moralistic kind of way. If you're sensing (practical), you'll likely feel that things have not been explored and laid out properly. There’s no room to take your time and carefully add up all the issues.

As the head of a department in a large hospital for 12 years, I was encouraged to write policies and procedures, but, as an intuitive, I couldn't have been less interested. It wasn't that I couldn’t see their value, even though some of them baffled me, but my reaction was: "Find someone else to do this stuff who enjoys it. Let me get on with LIFE."

Like me, perceptive organizations tend to think that getting things so defined, as the judging types do, only cuts down on creativity and reduces free choice. If you're intuitive, you likely feel that defining things very specifically limits creativity and freedom. If you're sensing, you may well feel that too much decisiveness cuts into your practical ability to deal with the actual situation.

This doesn't mean that if your preference, either perceptive or judging, is opposite to your organization that you can't make a significant contribution to the overall system. A friend was a Chief in the navy, which is about the most hide-bound rules and regulations judging organization available. As a perceptive person you'd think he would always be out of step, but that wasn't the case. He became an expert at all the shortcuts possible, and some that weren't, and became a very valuable member of the service.

Our problem is not so much whether our personality complements our organization; it is whether we know what our type is, why we have problems, and whether, given our problems, we plan to stay with our company. If we plan to stay, then the question becomes, "What can we do to use our preference to complement our company, and not become a liability full of anger and frustration?"

Henry Sharam

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