Temperaments: A Simpler Model for Understanding Motivations at Work

This blog post is part of our Truity at Work series for those who are new to people management. In these posts, we’re creating useful content for managers and teams alike, helping you to understand personality, improve communication, and navigate conflict and change with ease. For an overview of the series, start with our introductory post here.

Using personality type at work helps teams discover their talents, allows for clearer communication, and even leads to higher productivity and reduced turnover. However, when managing a team, constantly thinking about 16 types can be a little daunting. At times, it's helpful to use a simpler model whose insights we can access quickly. That’s where temperaments come in. 

Learn more by watching our video here.

What are temperaments?

Temperaments outline four core patterns of needs, values and behaviors that tell us a lot about our motivations at work and home. They describe our core needs and drivers, and how that translates into our approach to work and what appeals to us in a job.

How do I determine my temperament?

There have been many different names for temperaments over the centuries. The most recent incarnation was from David Keirsey who named the four types Artisans, Guardians, Rationals and Idealists.

Many years later these names tend to confuse people, so we updated them to Responder, Preserver, Theorist and Empath. And if you know your Myers-Briggs type already, it’s easy to determine your temperament from the letters in your four-letter code. (If you aren’t sure, you can take our free Typefinder assessment).  




Keirsey Temperament 

Truity name

Myers and Briggs

Guardian 

Preserver

SJ 

Idealist

Empath

NF

Artisan

Responder

SP

Rational

Theorist

NT

Sensor-Perceivers (ESTP, ISTP, ESFP, ISFP) are known as Responders as they live in the moment, responding to life as it happens. At work, they want to see immediate, tangible results, and, as they react quickly to new information, they are natural crisis managers, problem solvers and performers. 

Sensor-Judgers (ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ, ISFJ) are known as Preservers, as they want to protect those they care about and preserve resources. At work, they want to belong to a team that is secure, stable and structured. With their respect for the past, and ability to manage large amounts of data, they excel at maintaining repeatable processes that keep an organization running. 

Intuitive-Thinkers (ENTJ, ENTP, INTJ, INTP) are known as Theorists as they seek to understand the principles the world operates on. At work, they use their strategic visioning and critical thinking skills to design new solutions to problems and systemic challenges. 

Intuitive-Feelers (ENFJ, INFJ, ENFP, INFP) are known as Empaths as they seek to connect to people on a deeper level and sense their potential. At work, they focus on developing people to release that potential. Their natural empathy and interpersonal skills allow them to diplomatically resolve conflicts and create cohesive team culture. 

What skills does each temperament bring to work?

Each temperament brings a natural skill set to work, often finding themselves most comfortable in particular types of roles. 

Responders are flexible, tactical problem solvers. They appreciate exciting and stimulating challenges they can tackle right now. Hence, they often enjoy roles that focus on action – operating, troubleshooting, presenting, producing, negotiating, or managing a crisis. 

The skills they bring to work are:

  • Effectively reading and managing the current situation 
  • Motivating others with a moving presentation
  • Decisively taking action to get things done
  • Adapting a solution to address a problem without losing it’s overarching purpose

Preservers are responsible, logistical organizers. They appreciate taking a methodical approach to achieving tangible results that contribute to improving a process or caring for people. Hence, they often enjoy roles that focus on being responsible - supervising, inspecting, caretaking, supporting and enforcing. 

The skills they bring to work are:

  • Ensuring the right things get to the right place at the right time
  • Standardizing procedures that create stability for the group
  • Assessing whether work or processes meet the required standards
  • Providing others with what they need to get their work done

Theorists are analytical and strategic. They want to analyze challenging problems in order to design and implement better solutions, hence they often enjoy roles focused on improving – inventing, designing, engineering, visioning, systematizing and mobilizing people to implement the strategy.

The skills they bring to work are:

  • Thinking strategically about all possible options, plans and contingencies
  • Redesigning systems and processes to achieve future goals
  • Analyzing objectively using abstract reasoning
  • Identifying the skills required to achieve a strategy and engaging people to get the job done

Empaths are idealistic and diplomatic. They want to build genuine relationships, mentor others, and make a meaningful contribution to the overall vision, hence they often enjoy roles focused on development – counseling, coaching, teaching, communicating, facilitating, interpreting, meditating and diplomacy. 

The skills they bring to work are:

  • Mentoring and unleashing potential in others
  • Developing and communicating an inspiring vision for the future
  • Clarifying and embedding values in the team or organization
  • Understanding deeper issues while honoring individual needs

What next?

People can get very stressed when their job doesn't allow them to tap into and use these natural talents. We each need to fulfill our natural needs and motivations in our work, and when we can’t, we’ll struggle.

For yourself, check in about how much your job or career aligns with the skills and motivations of your temperament. You might want to review your past roles or jobs, too, to get a good sense of what happens when your temperament needs are met and when they aren’t. With that information, take steps to shift your role to create greater alignment.  

If you are a team leader or manager, do a similar assessment for each team member. Head over to Truity at Work to start assessing your team, then consider the skill set each role requires and which temperament that naturally aligns with. Then overlay each team member's temperaments and see what matches up and what doesn't. Chat with each team member about their roles in terms of temperaments and discuss how you might make it a greater fit for each. 

The temperaments provide a great model to use for yourself and your team as it keeps things simple but focuses on what matters – core needs and motivations. 

Samantha Mackay

Samantha is the Lead Trainer at Truity and will shortly be a certified Enneagram Coach. She believes our personality is the key to navigating life's strangest hurdles. Despite her best efforts Samantha is an ENTP and Enneagram 7, who is always surrounded by a pile of books, a steaming cup of tea and a block of her favourite chocolate. Samantha is currently studying with Beatrice Chestnut and Uranio Paes of CP Enneagram Academy undertaking their Professional Enneagram Certification. Currently located in Auckland, New Zealand. Find her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/samanthamackay/. Check out her course "Unlocking the Power of Your Personality" at www.truity.com/training

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