Find out how MBTI enhanced teamwork and feedback

Roche is a global innovator of products and services for the early detection, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases. It contributes on a broad range of fronts to improving people’s health and quality of life. The company’s mission is to create added value in healthcare by focusing on its expertise in diagnostics and pharmaceuticals.


In 2008 Roche launched a leadership programme aimed at both the board of directors and all their general managers. The programme’s key features were personal development, getting to know yourself and others, and change management.

In parallel with the leadership programme, Roche initiated an employee development programme. Its content was crafted during a conference, where employees worked in groups to come up with suggestions about what could make Roche a better place to work. One of the groups proposed that all employees should take part in a personal development programme. Another group suggested that the organisation should work on developing its feedback culture. Work at Roche is mainly team-based, and an open communication in work groups is important for work to run effectively.

The company decided to combine these two conference suggestions, and aim for a wide-ranging development programme. Hans Brobäck, Human Resources Manager at Roche, was already a licensed MBTI® practitioner. He often utilised the tool in team-building sessions, especially in the marketing department. Now that a more comprehensive development programme was to be launched, the MBTI was an obvious element.

Hans Brobäck worked with consultants from Assessio, an OPP training partner, to form a two-day training course for Roche employees, as part of the employee development programme. The focal point of the course was to get to know yourself and others, thereby improving employees’ skills in giving and receiving feedback, as well as working in teams.

The first day of the training course centred on MBTI type and the theory behind the tool. Prior to the course, all participants had completed the MBTI online, and the first day also included group feedback and examined participants’ profiles in depth, putting them into perspective. For example, different temperaments were discussed in order to clarify how different types interact.

Day two was devoted to practical applications of the MBTI, with a special focus on how to deliver feedback to different people, based on an understanding of different MBTI types. Several practical exercises were included, to allow for immediate practise of the newly acquired knowledge.

The first group of employees took the training course in January 2012. By the end of the year all employees had completed the programme. One important feature was mixed groups, which allowed employees to meet across functions and departments. As a sales organisation in pharmaceuticals, Roche has many employees working in the field, all of whom participated in the Stockholm-based training course.

Having completed the employee development programme, Roche and Assessio developed a new module for the managers’ leadership programme, based on the MBTI framework. Roche had acknowledged the importance of managers obtaining feedback from employees, clients and partners. Managers therefore practised giving as well as receiving feedback, while paying attention to their own and others’ MBTI preferences. The module was very well received by participants.
The response to the employee development programme was invariably very positive. Participants gained a new understanding of themselves and their colleagues, and benefited from new practical tools applicable in everyday working life. The employee survey also revealed positive effects on communication – an aspect of work that the vast majority now considers very well-functioning. This was a direct result of the new feedback culture – employees are better able to adjust their feedback according to the recipient’s MBTI preferences, and they also have a better understanding of why they react the way they do to different types of feedback. The exchange of feedback is now a natural part of everyday work at Roche.

New hires now complete the MBTI questionnaire and are provided with individual feedback. In this manner, they are integrated more easily in their teams and share common ground for understanding individual differences.

Another result of the programme is an increased managerial interest in teamwork and team development. The board of directors has continued to work on these issues. Hans states that the message of the employee development programme is still a vivid part of the corporate culture.

By letting all of their employees go through the MBTI process, Roche also received valuable information at the organisational level: for example, it was clear that the Extroverts made up a large majority of the workforce, probably due to Roche’s extensive sales organisation. This fact spurred interesting discussions about how an extroverted organisation should meet customers with a completely different profile. According to Hans, these organisational-level results could very well be given further attention and provide the basis for future development sessions.

The MBTI-based employee development programme has improved Roche’s feedback culture and contributed to more effective teams. Employees understand themselves and each other better, and are able to use this new knowledge to communicate more effectively.
The message of the employee development programme is still a vivid part of the corporate culture.

Hans BrobäckHuman Resources Manager. Roche