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How to support ESFJ personality types in the workplace

How to support ESFJ personality types in the workplace featured image

ESFJ personality types, called “Consuls” because of their nurturing traits, enhance your team’s cohesion with their sociability and empathy. They create harmony by planning ahead and ensuring everyone feels supported.

However, this 16-type personality has a strong need for norms and structure, which can make workplace change challenging. Their need for harmony can also prevent them from meeting deadlines or having difficult conversations.

In this article, we explain the ESFJs’ strengths and weaknesses – and help you understand how to support them in the workplace.

Overview of ESFJs in the workplace

Consuls have the following key qualities. 

Key characteristics of ESFJs

Here are their primary traits:

  • Extroverted (E):  Recharge in quick-paced environments and prefer social interactions that enable them to express their ideas freely

  • Sensing (S): Focus on reality instead of possibility, keeping their attention on the present and concrete information

  • Feeling (F): Make decisions based on empathy and consideration for others’ feelings, valuing harmony and emotional connection in their interactions

  • Judging (J): Prefer structured, planned, and organized work with clear direction over spontaneity

Strengths and contributions to the workplace

Consuls bring a lot of benefits to the table, including:

  • Communication: Their extroversion and emotional intelligence makes them great communicators and natural leaders, so they’re able to get everyone on the same page and build close relationships on teams.

  • Empathy and sensitivity: They’re attentive to others’ needs and feelings, making them great at resolving conflicts and maintaining positive work atmospheres.

  • Organization and dependability: They often work hard to create well-organized workspaces and get their work done on time. 

  • Solid work ethic: They help build a positive and inclusive workplace and work well both alone and on teams. They also respect authority and are efficient and patient.

Common challenges and pain points

Like every personality type, ESFJs have some challenges: 

  • Tendency to overcommit: They sometimes take on too much and don’t want to burden others by delegating. This same trait can also mean they overlook finer details in their work, especially when working on deadlines.

  • Avoidance of discomfort: Their love of smooth team dynamics is an asset, but it can also get in the way of communication. They may hesitate to speak their minds if it will cause someone pain, even when constructive criticism is needed.

  • Struggles with flexibility: They thrive on reliable routines, so they can struggle in situations where flexibility is needed and in circumstances where work routines change. They can also find work difficult in situations where they must adopt an impersonal approach.

  • Sensitivity to criticism: They may have a hard time receiving criticism, even when it's constructive. Their sensitivity can lead to taking feedback personally, impacting their professional growth and ability to adapt.

ESFJ communication styles and team dynamics

Consuls flourish in workplaces with clearly defined roles and expectations. However, their need for structure and harmony paired with their sensitivity can mean they struggle in situations requiring spontaneity or constructive criticism. 

The following tips can help you address these challenges and keep ESFJs motivated. 

Effective communication strategies for ESFJs

When communicating with Consuls, make sure your message gets heard by using these techniques:

  • Focus on face-to-face communication. Non-verbal cues are important for Consuls, and they’ll feel more comfortable with in-person meetings or even video conferences instead of emails.

  • Use a warm tone. Choose a friendly, positive approach over formal language and use open, approachable body language.

  • Support them in delegating. For example, you may have a written process that requires team members to ask for additional support if they spend more than three hours per week on a task that’s meant to take just two hours.

  • Use anonymous surveys. Anonymous surveys – including pulse surveys – can provide a safe and pressure-free environment for Consuls, enabling them to express their honest opinions and constructive feedback without the fear of causing interpersonal conflict or discomfort.

Best practices for integrating ESFJs into teams

Consuls thrive on teams, so give them collaborative work where possible and use these tips to help build on their cooperative traits:

  • Provide processes and structure: They should always know what they should be working on and what a successfully completed task looks like, so use checklists, detailed workflows, examples, and clear schedules.

  • Check in often: Because they appreciate personal relationships, make it a point to ask questions like “Is this clear?” or “I’d love to help. What questions can I answer for you?” This makes it easier for ESFJs to ask for help and can also make impersonal work – when it’s needed – seem more personal. 

  • Include them in decision-making: Because they usually interact personally with their coworkers, ESFJs are often great at understanding fellow team members. When you include them in decision making, you leverage this understanding along with their ability to build relationships and get everyone on the same page.

  • Appreciate their contributions: Consuls feel valued when you publicly acknowledge their efforts. They also feel positive when they see others supported, because ESFJs thrive in mutually beneficial settings.

  • Pair them correctly with the other 16-type personalities: ESFJs collaborate best with ISTJs, ISFJs, ENFPs, ESTPs, INFJs, ESTJs, and ISFPs. These personality types often allow Consuls to take the lead and also tend to be focused on strong interpersonal relationships. ENFPs, ESTPs, and ISFPs also bring spontaneity to groups, helping balance out the more routine-minded Consuls. 

Tips for preventing and resolving conflicts with ESFJs

Conflicts can happen in any workplace. Here’s how you can prevent and address these challenges with Consuls:

  • Provide constructive criticism privately: Consuls can feel “called out” when criticism is presented publicly, so always meet one-on-one, in person to ask for changes to their work. Start by empathizing with their challenges before providing clear examples of how to do better. End with a review of what the Consul is doing well to build their confidence. 

  • Check workloads and stress levels: Regularly look at how much your ESFJs are taking on, because they tend to overcommit and burn out. If they’re taking on too much, step in with supportive measures – such as redistributing tasks among the team, setting more realistic deadlines, or helping them delegate their tasks.

  • Seek collaborative solutions: Consuls are natural leaders, so involve them in a collaborative problem-solving process when conflict happens. Challenge them to find a win-win solution, and they’ll almost always find ways to overcome conflict gracefully.

How to motivate ESFJ employees and keep them engaged

Knowing how to motivate your Consul employees can enable you to engage them and ensure they contribute to your organization’s success.

What motivates ESFJ personality types at work

ESFJs thrive in work environments with lots of structure, clarity, harmony, and support. They appreciate actively collaborating with colleagues and helping support team welfare. They especially enjoy tasks that allow them to use their natural social and organizational skills. Personal interactions and a strong sense of community also drive them.

Strategies for engaging ESFJ types

To motivate Consuls, you’ll want to:

  • Establish clear structures: Provide them with clear guidelines for their tasks and projects. These might include detailed project plans and structured timelines. 

  • Create a warm work environment. Consuls work best when they get to know colleagues on a personal level, so encourage your teams to share pet pictures, take part in ice breakers, and engage in casual chats.

  • Make helping colleagues easy. Create programs that enable team support. For example, ask for volunteers for a committee that will help new hires. Just ensure ESFJs don’t take on too much work – perhaps by limiting each worker to one volunteer opportunity.

You can also meet with Consuls in person to discuss ways to improve motivation at work. ESFJs are natural problem solvers and will often help you find ways to inspire not just them – but also everyone else on your team!

Guidance on personal development and career growth for ESFJs 

When offering Consuls training, consider leveraging their strengths while trying to address their weaknesses. Here are some strategies you might consider: 

  • One-on-one mentorships to appeal to their need to build close relationships

  • Leadership training and coaching to bring out their natural leadership abilities 

  • Training in creativity, storytelling, and adaptability to help them better adapt to change 

  • Improvisation workshops to help them overcome their need for structures

How TestGorilla can help you hire the right ESFJs

ESFJs are loyal workers, always ready to work well with teams and get the job done. Their love of people brings genuine warmth to your workplace, too. However, they can be rigid about structure and can get overwhelmed, especially with change or criticism. 

Supporting them with effective strategies for communication, motivation, and career development can ensure they become valuable members of your team. 

TestGorilla is a talent assessment platform with a wealth of resources to help you understand and support your current and future employees. For example, our personality tests can give you deeper insights into your ESFJ candidates and employees, while our blog contains various informative guides – just like this one.  

Want to learn more? Check out TestGorilla's test library, watch a live demo, and sign up for a free account to see how TestGorilla can help you build better teams.


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