Many of the P’s (Perceivers in Myers-Briggs) I know have a duality about them. On the one hand, they feel like they are a mess: they can’t seem to “get organized” or finish what they start. On the other hand, when they are in their element and have room to just be, they can chill or be the life of the party. They love that part of themselves, and those of us who are J’s (Judgers) love watching it. (Okay, to be completely real, we are envious of it.)
The P’s whom I have coached in corporate America mistakenly believe they need to hide their "P qualities” for fear that those qualities will hold them back from climbing as high as they desire. However, nothing could be further from the truth. They actually need to leverage those qualities, and we who are J’s can help them.
If you are working with a P, there are three tips for drawing out the best in them.
- Set plenty of mini-deadlines ahead of the true deadline – P’s tend to work in bursts. A burst magically appears about an hour before the deadline is due. The amount of creativity which P’s show and the work they get done in that last hour is amazing. J’s who are working with P’s or managing them often feel like the P’s are driving them nuts. They wish P’s were more methodical. If you are collaborating with a P, break down the project into multiple parts, then set clear and hard deadlines for each of the parts. Make sure that you give yourself enough time at the end to refine the work that is being completed because P’s often wish they had “a little more time” to correct some of the pieces. By leaving time to refine, you can both work on sharpening it. You will appreciate the ingenuity a P brings to each part of the project.
- Don’t suffocate them with a rigid schedule – J’s like to be scheduled. P’s like to be open-ended. Many companies I work with have so many meetings that a P tends to feel suffocated. The calendar is full, which works against their natural desire to be flexible. If you want a P in a meeting, please make sure the meeting is essential. All of us need space to think, plan, and review. P’s also need open-ended space, where they can draw out their gifts for the good of all. Granted, the higher they climb, the harder it will be to find open-ended space. However, I would encourage P’s to carve out at least a two-hour, non-negotiated block in their week for free thinking. Ideally it should be more, but even with that much, they will accomplish so much more than without it.
- Feed P’s with knowledge, wisdom and tips and watch them brilliantly mix and match them at the right moments – P’s know how to wing it. The sharp ones are able to pull from multiple sources in order to wing it well. They can adjust on the fly and come up with brilliant ideas that seem so well-thought-out, you would think they had been thinking on it for hours. What P’s often need in order to nail this gift is more knowledge, wisdom, and tips. If they are N’s (iNtuitives), they could accomplish this through reading the first and last paragraphs of an article and scanning the rest. If they are S’s (Sensors), they typically they want details. I would suggest they become thought leaders in the most essential part of their role. If they set aside even 30 minutes per day to accumulate more knowledge, wisdom and tips, you will see it pay off dividends in meetings where their wing-it skills are praised.
All personality types are equal. None are better than the others. We need to leverage each other’s natural gifts in order to accomplish the greater good.
Chew on This: How do you need to adjust for the P’s who are on your team?
Ryan C. Bailey is an Executive Coach who helps business leaders develop in-demand high performing teams.