Advancing Philanthropy

Management: Just Get It Done!

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illustration of two people talking

Above: Illustration Credit ImageZoo/Illustration Source

Have you ever expected someone to complete a special assignment in three weeks and then become anxious when you do not hear anything from him for days on end? When you ask how things are coming along, the response is “Just fine.” However, no details about how the work is developing are forthcoming.

Or have you ever had someone charge into your workspace and give you a task that has to be done by noon the next day? Your to-do list already fills two pages, and she wants that new work done when?

Each of these situations may occur for a variety of reasons. If you find, however, that either one occurs frequently in your organization, you are likely interacting with people whose type preferences differ significantly from yours—people whose “style” contrasts with how you usually do your work.

When Isabel Myers translated Carl Jung’s theories into the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, or MBTI®, she added a pair of preferences that help account for the contrasting styles suggested above. The preference pair of judging (J) and perceiving (P) represents how you generally interact with the world around you, including other people. Figure 1 portrays the four scales from Jung and Myers that interact with each other to generate one’s type or style. (Also see the sidebar on page 68.)

The person who may or may not be getting the assignment done and the person who needs some new work done right away clearly differ in the judging/perceiving scale that Myers conceived. When you must interact frequently with those whose preferences on the judging/perceiving scale are opposite your own, you may experience stress and even conflict in the workplace.

The supervisor who expected the project to be completed in three weeks illustrates the judging (J) preference, as does the person with the heavy to-do list who has to complete a new task by 12 p.m. the next day. For those who prefer judging (J), solid performance for them means “plan the work and work the plan.” (Many readers will say, “Of course! How else would you get it done?”) They feel good when they reach the end of the day and everything on that day’s to-do list is checked off. They commonly make decisions quickly—a behavior they are good at because they have practiced it for many years. They actually may experience discomfort in certain situations until a decision has been made about the circumstances at hand.

When communicating with others, judging-preference individuals want to agree on schedules and deadlines, which provide structure for projects and tasks. And they expect others to stick to agreed-upon timelines. Their conversation commonly addresses results and achievements, reflecting their task-oriented style. Very often, their statements sound like final decisions because, many times, that is what their statements are!

So, the supervisor gets antsy as a deadline approaches and he has not heard anything about the assigned project. Is it on track? Will the deadline be met? The lack of information about progress causes discomfort and even, over time, anxiety.

Figure 1. Four Scales of Psychological TypeThe person who received another task for her to-do list also illustrates the judging preference. It is one more thing to do, with little time to plan how to do it, let alone pushing out other items on the list that she had intended to work on the next day. For her, the panic button may be close at hand.

In contrast to the judging preference, people who prefer perceiving (P) commonly excel in finishing tasks at the last minute. Spontaneity dominates their styles, as they naturally keep their options open and continue gathering information before coming to a conclusion.

The person above who received the three-week assignment does not consider himself a procrastinator. As his personality developed, he grew to enjoy starting tasks and allowing them to remain open, in case something else came up that could improve results. He understands that tasks have to be completed but resists tight deadlines and unchangeable schedules. His propensity for remaining flexible will ultimately enable him to respond to his supervisor’s timeline for completing the special assignment. He works best when he has a high level of autonomy to get things done his way.

The supervisor who asked that something be done by noon the following day also demonstrates the perceiving (P) preference. She has a speaking commitment the next afternoon and needs some data gathered for her topic. She has been mulling ideas for the last several days but had not really shaped her thoughts until earlier today. That is when she recognized the need for certain data and needed someone to gather it for her.

The supervisor had spoken on the requested topic before, but a lot of other ideas had recently occurred to her that she felt would improve the presentation. In all likelihood, if asked to present on the same topic in two months, she will have the same experience of “improving” the presentation. What she thinks is always subject to modification, and she easily deals with last-minute changes. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2. Some Contrasts Between Judging and Perceiving

Figure 3. Distribution of Judging and PerceivingPerhaps it is not surprising that judging (J) predominates among the participants in the AFP Foundation/TypeCoach study. (See Figure 3.) Sixty-nine percent of women and 56 percent of men prefer judging (J) as they interact with the world and people around them, while 31 percent of women and 44 percent of men prefer perceiving (P). This distribution compares with the national sample of type preferences: Fifty-six percent of women and 52 percent of men prefer judging (J), while 44 percent of women and 48 percent of men prefer perceiving (P).

As with all preferences in psychological type, judging (J) and perceiving (P) each contribute to successful working relationships. Each preference can benefit the other, as long as people recognize what their own preference is and accept that others’ preferences bring value to their work together. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes 3:1, there is a time to consider options and a time to come to closure, a time to be flexible and a time to work the plan, a time to attend to process and a time to get the job done.

To paraphrase Ecclesiastes 3:1, there is a time to consider options and a time to come to closure, a time to be flexible and a time to work the plan, a time to attend to process and a time to get the job done.

Note: This article is the second in a series based on the AFP Foundation/TypeCoach study. The first article, “Just Your Type—or Not!” by Robert E. Fogal, Ph.D., ACFRE, appeared in Advancing Philanthropy, Fall 2015, pages 50–53.


Sidebar: A Brief Summary of Type

Carl Jung conceptualized psychological type a century ago to explain normal differences in people’s styles. His work was adopted by Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs in their own studies of personality. Myers developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator®, or MBTI®, to make Jung’s theories more broadly accessible and available. Millions of people worldwide have taken the MBTI®.

Jung theorized that there are four mental functions. Two are “perceiving” functions that denote how we take in information or how we learn: sensation and intuition. People who prefer sensing (S) typically focus on specific facts and details before seeing underlying patterns or whole concepts. Those who prefer intuition (N) concentrate on what facts mean and how they fit together, getting into details only as they feel it’s necessary.

Jung used the term “judging” to denote the functions for decision-making preferences: thinking and feeling. Individuals who prefer thinking (T) evaluate situations analytically, often relying on impersonal pro/con perspectives to make decisions. Those who prefer the feeling (F) preference make decisions based on how they see the needs, emotions and feelings of the individuals involved.

Jung also observed that people always attach an “attitude” to their preferred mental functions. These attitudes, which he labeled extraversion and introversion, indicate how people obtain and renew their mental energy. When they use extraversion (E), they learn and work best when they share, discuss and process information with others. When they use introversion (I), they learn and work best when they have time to quietly process and understand information on their own.

Robert E. Fogal, Ph.D., ACFRE, coaches nonprofit executives to maximize their performance and enhance their career advancement. He has held chief development officer positions in higher education, healthcare, senior services, human services and religious organizations.

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