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Work Motivation - ISTJ and ISFJ Occupations and Careers Advice

Deidre has a Masters in applied linguistics and translation for her 20 years overseas. She's worked as a certified provider of the MBTI®.

We have the choice of situations that energize us and drain us. Certain things or occupations can build us up or tear us down. Such knowledge, often determined in career or personality tests, can help guide us in team building at work or in managing our own lives. Employee engagement and motivation can be better encouraged by considering individual personality types. Let's look at the ISTJ and ISFJ personalities.

Two similar personalities

by joshdeweese

by joshdeweese

Why Personality Type?

Personality type is a way to understand what keeps us going and what energizes us. We have a natural inborn preference that determines certain kinds of work situations as more comfortable and therefore more enjoyable. Jobs with these work situations are more ideally suited for us and provides some of the how to motivate employees.

Each of the 16 Myers-Briggs® personality types uses mental energy in a unique way. This is an important element behind employee productivity.

What personality type is

Our 4 Mental Functions

There are four mental functions, or processes, according to Jung's typology; two opposite ways of gathering information and two opposite ways of making conclusions. The two ways of gathering of information has to do with how we Perceive, and the two ways for making conclusions has to do with how we Judge.

 4 Mental Functions  



Through detailed facts from experiences  

ways we gather information 


Through global wholes of possible interrelationships 






On objective logical analysis of the information

ways we make conclusions


On the value of the information


We all use each of these four mental functions. A basic way we differ from each other, though, is how we use each of the four. Ever wonder why siblings brought up by the same parents in the same household in the same location can still be so different? You've got it! The way each uses the four mental functions can make huge differences!

The Favorite Mental Function

Each person uses one of the four mental functions as their favorite . This favorite (or dominant) mental function uses the lion's share of a person's psychological energy. This favorite mental function is therefore the most conscious of the four -- the one we are most aware of and can most readily control, or direct.

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This is how we can know what energizes us mentally! We very much enjoy using our favorite mental function and tend to acquire a lot of experience and competence with it. We naturally tend to choose to take on tasks, relationships and even careers, that energize us in this way.

ISTJ and ISFJ Energizers

Let's look at what energizes the ISTJ and ISFJ Myers-Briggs personality types. You share the same favorite mental function, Sensing, to gather information as detailed facts of your experiences. As introverts you use this in the inner world.

Here are the Sensing activities, environments and resources you ISTJs and ISFJs most enjoy and derive benefit from, and therefore are what energize you at work.

Energizing environments and resources

Activities You Enjoy Environments You Enjoy Resources 

Organize facts & details to accomplish a goal 

Finish one thing before starting another 

Validation of specific skills, performance, worth 

Time to do it well 

Quite workplace with few interruptions 

Finish some small things 

Control your own work schedule 

Clear, stable structures, procedures & expectations 

Time alone in a Sensing environment 


Support to do what you see as the right way

Help with priorities; not advice

How the Likes of the ISTJ and ISFJ Differ

In addition to these common features, you ISTJs are energized by working actively on concrete projects with tangible results, having Thinking as your second favorite mental function. This is reflected, too, in your tendency to be distressed by contentiousness and competitiveness in the workplace.

You ISFJs prefer to work with people to achieve tangible benefits for others. You find balancing your work and home lives stressful, including child and parent care responsibilities, having Feeling as your second favorite mental function. You ISFJs value loyalty more than ISTJs and any of the other types.

Sensing vs Intuitive

Typical Resources and Remedies

You ISTJs and ISFJs will know you have become a veteran of life's struggles by having developed well a

  • Broadened perspective
  • Clear values
  • Flexible relationships

Realizing what energizes you, in particular, is a way to grasp what it is that you can do to counteract many of life's energy drainers. You managers may find, when you know an employee's personality type, you can better motivate your staff through engaging them in work activities and environments that energize, rather than drain.

Managing our own activities, environments and resources, or that of our staff, may help avoid low morale and even staff attrition more often than not. I encourage you to give this a think, and a try!

© 2010 Deidre Shelden

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