Discover how the MBTI assists Waitrose leadership teams

Waitrose is part of The John Lewis Partnership. With 300 branches nationwide, the supermarket is a household name in the UK. It was recognised in Verdict's Consumer Satisfaction Index 2013 as Best Food & Grocery Retailer for the eighth year in a row. It was also named Best Supermarket in the 2012 Which? supermarkets survey, for the fourth year running, and was awarded Best Supermarket in the Good Housekeeping Awards 2013.

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Waitrose is undergoing the biggest period of expansion in the company's history, looking to establish the brand in new locations throughout the UK, with large supermarkets and smaller convenience stores alike.
The company has access to lots of different tools, but the MBTI® process has become one of its key development aids, used across the business.
“This is because people get it”, says Alex Woodward, Development Facilitator, Waitrose, the man responsible for administering the MBTI system. “They see how it can help people understand each other and identify things that they have to do differently – even things that they might not want to”.

Alex runs two MBTI-related courses: Understanding Style and Difference (USD), and Business Applications of the MBTI (BAMBTI). Both are aimed at developing management to meet the diverse challenges of the workplace.

The USD course is aimed at Department Managers, Section Managers and Assistant Section Managers. It is run regularly over two days, with 20-30 delegates per session. More than 400 people have attended the programme.

On the first day, delegates complete the MBTI questionnaire, gaining valuable insight from the scoring process. The focus is then on group feedback, with experiential and exercise-led sessions, building the picture from MBTI dichotomies to whole type.

MBTI Step II informs the language used in describing the dichotomies, helping people get a handle on their preferences. They are encouraged to reflect on this overnight, enabling them to return on day two with a best-fit type.

The second day then uses exercises to explore type dynamics, and analyses the art of effective meetings by examining issues in mixed groups that reflect IP, EP, EJ and IJ preferences. The session also looks at stress, with reference to the information about stress within Introduction to Type.

The second half of the day features exercises that examine type and approach to change and decision making in a business context. Some of this is based on ITT and Introduction to Type and Organisations, with additional resources developed by Alex.

The BAMBTI course is aimed at Branch Managers. The format is the same as USD, but there is some pre-work, and the MBTI questionnaire is completed online beforehand. The assessment is used to generate Stress Management Reports and Decision Making Reports, as well as receiving their MBTI Step II reports.

“It was one of the best courses I have been on within Waitrose”, one of the delegates commented. “Everything was beneficial.”

“It was the best course I have been on”, another concurred. “Everything covered over the two days is relevant to my job. I use some or all of the topics we covered daily, and it really forces me to question myself to find the most appropriate approach to a subject, individual or situation.”

Alex is now keen to widen his tool portfolio further. He is, for example, interested in linking the 16PF® to Waitrose leadership behaviours, and would like to make more of MBTI and 16PF links.

Looking forward, the key areas of focus remain managing change, shaping corporate culture and aligning vision and development. The MBTI system is part of the approach that helps keep all this simple and tied together with a common business language.

“This learning has allowed me to be comfortable with who I am”, said one of the delegates, “and also to understand those who are my opposite, allowing me to tailor the way I interact with others.”

A great testimony to the success of this course is the fact that the majority of people attending have had it recommended by colleagues.

“The course works so well because it focuses on how MBTI can be applied within a range of business contexts”, says Alex. “We live in a world where money matters. With this type of positive feedback you begin to realise that when MBTI is applied well, you get a greater sense of a business return. This demonstrates to the organisation that the MBTI is a very worthwhile tool to use.”
People ‘get’ the MBTI. They see how it can help people understand each other and identify things that they have to do differently – even things that they might not want to.

Alex WoodwardDevelopment Facilitator. Waitrose