Can MBTI training help a criminal justice organization function better?

Posted 15 February 2024 by
Global Marketing

5 min. read

A public sector organization that’s part of the UK criminal justice system helps to manage offenders while they are in the justice system. Its priorities are to keep the public safe and to effectively rehabilitate people on probation to reduce the risk of reoffending.

It recently used MBTI® training to address major changes to its structure and personnel.


Following major changes, where the organization was brought back into public ownership after being privatized, the managers needed a development intervention to get its culture back on track. The organization had doubled in size during the pandemic.

Although the service was united again, the change in ownership along with the pandemic brought challenges. Staff had different levels of training, many of them had caseloads that were too high, and some left altogether, resulting in vacancies and workloads that had to be picked up by those still employed.

The annual staff survey revealed some dissatisfaction among staff. People were unhappy with management inconsistencies, including the advice that managers gave to their staff.

“We’ve gone through such a lot of change that managers haven’t always understood what advice they should give in certain situations,” says one Head of Service.

Being responsible for 15 managers and 150 staff, they decided a development workshop was needed to rebuild the culture and help it progress.


The challenges brought on by the changes meant the organization had to:

For this reason, an MBTI workshop in management development was chosen as a training solution. One of the goals was to help create a common identity for everyone and improve understanding between people.

“Getting something like this had a generalized purpose, which fulfilled our needs right now,” says the Head of Service. “It wasn’t about how to address specific issues. It was about finding an accessible way to address a cultural issue, which is to help managers get a better understanding of themselves and how they manage and motivate other people.”

MBTI® epiphanies

“I remember that the first time I took the MBTI assessment, on a course for senior leaders, it was revelatory for me,” continues the Head. “I was surprised by how well the trainer understood the way I might behave in certain situations.

“One example stands out to this day. The trainer said that, because of my type, ‘You’re the sort of person who’ll make a phone call, talk to the person, and then feel completely energized after that call because you get a lot of energy from conversation, a lot of ideas.’

“And I thought yes, that is exactly what I do. Some people wouldn’t want to have the conversation, they’d want to go away and think about it. But me, yes, if I have a problem, I want to talk to somebody and sort it out.

“That made me realize that I do respond in certain ways, others might not, and I need to understand those ways better. And so, with the issues we’re facing in the organization right now, I thought that a similar workshop would be a good way to work with the managers to help them better understand themselves.”

Workshop focal points

16 managers attended the full-day workshop, and attendees were a mix of operational managers and administration managers.

Participants had completed the MBTI questionnaire before attending. During the workshop, participants explored each of the preference pairs by doing exercises, working with and listening to colleagues who had different preferences, and talking about how they could flex and adapt to the people they lead as well as their wider stakeholders.

A team profile showed the distribution of types that existed across the team. This helped to clarify what strengths this brought and what development they might want to do to strengthen their leadership style.

The second half of the workshop applied people’s understanding and the team profile to areas most relevant to the organization’s needs and challenges, including:

This helped the team understand how their personality influenced their approach to different aspects of the workplace. It also helped them see how their teams could perceive them.


Workshop feedback was positive and the managers really liked it. One factor was the face-to-face format because there hasn’t been much of that since the pandemic. But, on top of that, the learning has stuck.

“They were really positive about it on the day, and we still refer back to what we learned,” says the Head of Service. “When I talk to them, they use language from the workshop. I think it’s given them an appreciation of understanding each others’ motivations and how we might respond to things differently…it’s helped them to not necessarily take a response at face value. For example, if somebody doesn’t enthuse about something, or if somebody wants to reflect on something, that’s OK.

“So, I think this workshop has been helpful both in us working together as a team, but also for those managers to start to think about who they’ve got on their team and all those different characteristics. It’s made them more flexible as managers.”

With a better understanding of how people respond to different situations and challenges, the managers are better equipped to address problems with staff—and finds ways to resolve them. They have the capacity to consider, ‘Where is the other person coming from? Where am I, their manager, coming from? How can we achieve a mutual solution that’s not confrontational?’

“We’re a people organization,” continues the Head of Service. “We’re not psychologists but we understand psychology and we understand motivation. We’re very interested in people, we work with people, so this kind of material really appealed to the managers who attended. They wanted to find out more about themselves.

“It’s what they came into the job for—to understand people better— so the workshop was on-point in terms of what motivates our staff.”

SHARE THIS: The case study is also available to download as a PDF.