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Paranoid Bosses - SFJ Personality Type in Employee Management
The Paranoid Boss enjoys people stopping by their office for impromptu visits, but then becomes stressed about their interrupted routine. You may be wondering how to deal with a good boss turned bad boss. They like to spend time with you during the day and can get paranoid about hurting your feelings or you hurting theirs. They don’t really come out and say that they don’t have time. If this is the case, there is a good chance your boss is an "SFJ"—those who favor the Sensing, Feeling and Judging preferences, as described by the Myers-Briggs® concepts of personality type.
The reason I mention the “SFJ” has this tension between being sociable and supportive vs. management of their schedule is because they can be so reluctant to bring it up themselves. They are the type of managers who are:
Afraid of getting hurt
- Warmly personable,
- anxious to please, and
- conflict paranoid, as well as
- sticklers for rules,
- painfully detail-focused
- change-resistant, and those who
- follow the manual.
One thing they do have going for them, though, is that they are also dutiful, even gracious doers for others.
The people who are industriously helpful
Instead of friendly productive bosses, though, I call the “SFJs” paranoid because of their ever present, underlying fear—a fear of hurting others’ feelings and of their own getting hurt. Objective, even constructive criticism is so-o difficult for them to not take personally.
If you are one of these "SFJ" bosses, hopefully you are one with a sense of humor who can try to look at this with just a tad of objectivity. Otherwise, I can just hear you clicking “Delete.”
Senior management loves ESFJs and ISFJs, at least before their plate gets too overloaded. They are the people who make sure somebody is getting everything that needs doing done and that protocols are followed. "SFJs" are just the ones to provide caring customer service according to protocol. They believe in authority and following orders and they will never be a ‘slacker.’
Working for the "SFJ"
The “SFJ” boss (ESFJ or ISFJ) are very responsible and expect the same of others. They rely on standard operating procedures and stress the importance of day-to-day operations, and they in turn can gently prod others to remember to go by the rules, as well.
You “SFJ” bosses will focus on structured, tangible results. Not only this, at the same time in situations that require decisions to be made and conflict avoided, you respect others’ input and use a more harmonious, consensus building approach.
You have a thing for being ready with handy tips and advice, for orchestrating resources and for gently nudging others toward task completion. You find such enjoyment in helping others achieve and are so kind and sympathetic that, should this be all there was to productivity, you would merrily keep on completing tasks—yours … and everyone else’s. However, you find it so hard to say ‘no’ that your plate then fills to overflowing!
What's the problem?
"So what's the problem?” you're saying, particularly you who are "SFJs." In life you must bring harmony and good will to most any situation, or else you just may get hurt … or offend someone else. ESFJs invented management based on values, sensible rules, and loyal adherence to them … along with hardly ever saying “no."
Very practical help if you can't quit your job
Great insights! Identifies behaviors of difficult people and put names to feelings they provoke. Helps me observe objectively and offers very practical and reasonable advice in how to respond.
Working under "SFJ" “shoulds” and “should nots”
When you're working for the "SFJ," you understand the value of rules, as they define it—a tedious, detailed, exacting slog. Don't bring up vision, imaginativeness, or inventiveness. These qualities belong with risky adventures and paragliding, not in a business. Their view is that this is just too jeopardizing!
“SFJs” dominate, rule, and run the public service parts of organizations. They hold themselves and others to the procedure manual for ‘everybody’s good.’ They are very loyal, almost to a fault. Sacrificing their own needs and their drive for harmony often puts their own welfare low on their list of priorities. Then they may begin to feel like the hired help. They may complain about all the work, responsibilities or demands placed on them.
Do not be surprised if, when you try to spare them such agonies and try to lighten their load, they become dismayed and disappointed. Should you try to rescue them, they will in turn be hurt and consumed with guilt.
They are paranoid of criticism, taking so readily any sort of criticism as a general indictment of his or her character.
It may come as a surprise that the “SFJ” boss can become very depressed and down on his or herself simply because of the absence of positive affirmation.
The “SFJs” are essential human resource staff
When the “SFJs” avoid too much overload and manage their sensitivities, they have the gift for incredible productivity and making a team productive. However, their team members tend to tire of their boss’ complaints of overloaded schedules and his or her resistance to being rescued or to helpful criticism.
Both ESFJs and ISFJs have much in common, but there are some significant differences in their approach.
ISFJs are in health and food services, teaching and administration. They dominate many aspects of
- customer service,
- financial advising,
- personnel management,
- health care, and
- one-on-one public service.
Their sense of duty is highly developed as the dependable bulwark who will always be there when needed, waiting silently. They will give in to taking a leadership role if 'duty calls.' They are quick, easygoing, neat, orderly and they do their best work in orderly, stable environments with clearly defined tasks and lines of authority. Work must adhere to standard procedures and produce tangible results. They don't want anyone 'messing with' making changes to supposedly make things better—especially when it is not broken and does not need fixing.
Impose order, gently
ESFJs make up a big part of organizational people management. They revere hierarchy and lead by
- providing clear, well-defined guidelines and instructions,
- ensuring everyone is kept well-informed, and by
- expecting a high degree of loyalty.
These are the people who are in tune with specific needs of individuals and are especially sensitive to nuances that make for happy and cared for team members. At the same time they impose order and structure on any situation—gently, yet firmly.
They want and need
- service-oriented goals to work towards,
- clearly defining roles in an organized setting, and
- regular recognition or appreciation.
In conflict situations, they are tactful with those they supervise and strive not to offend others or create additional conflict, and make sure to refer to the manual so that the proper rules are followed. They are hard workers, organized and conscientious; liking best to work with a cooperative team.
How to deal with difficult people
- Leadership and Type
Books listed by CAPT about the characteristic leadership styles of each of the 16 MBTI personality types.
© 2011 Deidre Shelden