Learn how this team used MBTI to maximise effectiveness

With around 23,500 students from 80 different countries, Birmingham City University is one of the largest higher education establishments in the UK. The Research, Innovation and Enterprise team, supports the University in developing innovation strategies, achieving targets and delivering activities.

Students in group
The Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) team within Birmingham City University consists of 20 individuals divided into five teams. They are undergoing a period of change and development, branching out from their original support function to one that seeks to influence, catalyse and provide leadership from the middle of the organisation.
The RIE team comprises individuals with a wide range of skills and diverse backgrounds. The members had been working well together, with positive relationships throughout. Team events were not a new concept for the RIE department – they had been holding quarterly events centring on Investors in People, in which they have achieved gold standard.
Even the best teams can be improved, however, and the one shortcoming identified by overall team leader Michele Mooney, Director, RIE, concerned the MBTI® instrument.
Members of the RIE team had all attended MBTI sessions previously and knew their best-fit type. Four of the team members had recently attended the MBTI Foundation Programme, and had found it a very positive and inspiring course. But it had also underlined the shortcomings of a previous MBTI session run with the Research, Innovation and Enterprise teams. The MBTI feedback and follow-up had been rudimentary, rushed and of little lasting practical benefit. In fact, it was hardly being used at all.
Realising the full potential of the tool, Michele was keen to bring its full impact to the RIE team.
“We realised that what we had done before with the MBTI questionnaire had not been very positive”, she says. “The feedback was rushed, and there was no follow-up. We had not been given enough time for in-depth analysis of what the MBTI has to offer in terms of depth and insight.”
To help embed the MBTI framework, OPP designed a one-day, off-site development event for the RIE team. The spotlight was on understanding interpersonal differences and identifying strengths and blind-spots.
Given their expanding role supporting and influencing across the University, the team needed to make the best possible use of its assets. Using the full scope and depth of the MBTI instrument would allow individuals to increase their self-awareness and their empathy with colleagues.
The expanded role of the team has also ushered in a period of change, with all its associated pressures. Part of the session therefore looked at stress management – how different people have different default approaches to managing stress, and how other team members can recognise and support each other.
The general reaction to the MBTI-framed workshop was very positive.

“We turned people round”, says Michele. “People have had a more positive experience of the MBTI. Having OPP demonstrate what a good feedback session meant, and how it could be used as the basis for ongoing development, was fantastic.

“We wanted to show people that there was far more to it than reaching a conclusion on best-fit. We wanted people to become aware of what it looks like, and to gain an understanding not just of themselves but of the others in the team. It was also useful to see how we all tend to react differently under stress – that part was very illuminating. ”

It is still early days, but the impact has been considerable. Michele Mooney plans to build on the MBTI session at a later date, when further development needs have been identified. The learning will also be carried through as part of the Department’s responsibility for helping students and graduates set up new businesses. MBTI-based sessions will feature as part of this support package.
Having OPP demonstrate what a good feedback session meant was fantastic. We wanted to show people that there was far more to it than reaching a conclusion on best-fit.

Michelle MooneyDirector – Research, Innovation & Enterprise. Birmingham City University