MBTI Bite: If You’re Involved In The Hospitality Industry, You Had Better Know How To Work With ESFJ’s

working-with-esfjs One of the 16 Myers-Briggs personality types is ESFJ.  If you are in the hospitality industry, you are probably bumping into ESFJ’s left and right.

For example, I did a workshop with a 100+ person team in the hospitality industry. Despite great diversity in culture, ethnicity, nations, etc. close to 30% were ESFJ’s!

How can you spot an ESFJ?  

ESFJ’s are those who thrive on structure and routine, are very loyal to their managers, and also care very much about people.

They love action-oriented teamwork and are usually among the first to help a colleague in a practical way.

They are also master networkers, and happen to know who is best to bring in for a project.

ESFJ’s are tremendous hosts/hostesses. They are the social event organizers.  This skill translates especially well in management, since ESFJ’s work to make sure everyone is involved and unified. They will work quickly to resolve team conflict so that the project gets done on time.

But the key trait to remember about ESFJ’s is that they are perfectionists at heart.  ESFJ’s love to do quality work.

They can sometimes get too caught up in what, to many others, would be small details.

If you are working with an ESFJ, here are three tips to help the two of you work better together:

1. Make sure that everyone’s role on the team is clear.


ESFJ’s thrive on structure and clarity.  They want to know who is responsible for what. They especially want to know what they are going to be held accountable for.

Since they are master team players, they rely on this clarity in order to play a role in unifying and supporting the team.

Once there is structure and clarity, watch the ESFJ handle their responsibilities with excellence.

If there is little structure or if roles are not clear, do not be surprised if they become confused, and stress becomes visible.  They may also become somewhat paralyzed, not sure how to proceed.

Then comes fear of failure in most ESFJ’s. ESFJ’s hate looking bad in front of others, so this fear of failure will need to be dealt with quickly.

Many ESFJ’s have learned to help their more “go-with-the-flow” managers develop structure and clarity.

So if you are a manager who struggles to put together clear roles and structure, solicit the help of your ESFJ direct reports.  They are probably dying to help you.

ESFJ’s are extremely practical, but often this strength does not become apparent until their role is defined.  Therefore, do not overlook this step when working with them.

2. When giving feedback, be sure to point out what was quality work, and then talk about how they can take it to the next level.


ESFJ’s care very much how people see them.  Many can struggle with perfectionism.

Most feel embarrassed if they made a mistake that was noticed by the team.

They really want to produce quality work.  They work hard to achieve it, so it is especially disappointing to them when they make a mistake, much less fail at something.

When giving ESFJ’s feedback, be sure to acknowledge publicly what is quality about their work.  Stress how much you value them, but not in a way that seems like flattery.  Be sincere.  Look for the quality and praise it.

When it is time to talk about going to the next level, be sure to do that in private.  If they perceive they are being criticized, the privacy will help you to help them process their emotions around it without causing them undue embarrassment.

Ultimately, they are going to love seeing a way that they can take it up a notch, because they really want their work to be excellent.

3. Be careful about challenging their authority--you might get your head bitten off.


Since ESFJ’s give so much respect to those in authority, and they work hard to get everyone on their team involved and unified, they find it highly offensive when their authority is challenged.  Do not be surprised if you see a strong outburst of emotions.

In general, ESFJ’s hate conflict, but if you happen to bait them, they will escalate the conflict.

If you believe something is off, pull them aside and ask them. Ask if they are up for discussing whatever it is. Once again, be sure to share how you value them as a colleague/boss.  And once again, be sincere.  Don’t try to schmooze with them.

Once the matter is out in the open, identify what is quality and strong about the work they did, and ask if what you see would help make things to be even stronger.

When working with ESFJ’s, as with any personality type, play to their strengths.

If you are someone who loves to innovate and come up with unconventional means of doing things, remember to mention frequently how the innovation will enhance your team’s influence on the larger group.

Chew On This:


  • How can you recognize the ESFJ’s on your team for the quality of their work?


Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.

*This blog is an amalgamation of a few different clients.  No one single client is being singled out.