Macmillan Cancer Support and MBTI insights

Find out how Macmillan uses MBTI insights to upskill GPs

Macmillan Cancer Support is one of Britain’s largest charities, providing specialist health care, information and financial support to people affected by cancer. They also consider the social, emotional and practical impact cancer can have, and campaign for better cancer care. Macmillan Cancer Support's goal is to reach and improve the lives of everyone living with cancer in the UK.

GP and patient

Macmillan funds on average two sessions a week for NHS GPs, to facilitate improvements in the quality of cancer and palliative care provided by primary care teams within local health economies. Some act to influence local commissioners, while others have a direct role in commissioning services. GPs need to develop their skills in these fields in order to become effective 'cancer leaders'.

The GP development programme was set up to support them in this process. It focuses on self-awareness, impact, leadership, and managing change. It is also about being a champion of the Macmillan cause. With funding an ever-pressing issue, GP participants are also upskilled in business planning and development.

The GP Programme was developed from an existing five day programme. There was a desire to streamline this, and parts that had demonstrably worked well were carried forward to a condensed three day-version. 

“I wanted to develop the MBTI® component of the programme to respond to feedback from GPs, to make it more challenging and realistic to situations they would face”, comments Rukshana Kapasi, Senior Macmillan Development Manager, East of England. “I was aware of [The Myers-Briggs Company, formerly OPP’s] work with GPs in supporting the first leaders of Clinical Commissioning Groups and was very excited about how this experience could be applied to Macmillan GPs.”

Rukshana had witnessed personally, in her own team, the benefits of effective MBTI development work. She approached The Myers-Briggs Company to discuss how the MBTI component might be reworked. This resulted in a revamped GP programme, with one and a half days focusing on MBTI-related development. To make the most of this time, the questionnaire and feedback sessions are completed before the sessions begin.

At the outset of the programme participants are placed in reflective learning groups. The aim is that these groups (typically comprising four participants) provide a support network throughout the development programme, and once the GPs have returned to work. Participants are encouraged to share their learning objectives within the group, challenge each other, and provide feedback and coaching.

MacmillanDay one of the programme looks at the key attributes required to lead in their Macmillan GP roles and asks participants to consider their own strengths and development needs in relation to these leadership skills. GPs are encouraged to explore their own, and others’, reactions to change, using MBTI insights as a lens to consider how others are affected by it, and the support others may need. Finally, everyone considers their likely decision-making style. Working through a real-life issue facing Macmillan GPs, the group use the MBTI framework for ensuring expertise in decision-making. The exercises are designed to be fun and exploratory, and as engaging as possible.

On the second day participants explore their own communication and influencing styles, considering the impact their MBTI preferences will have on their approach. Realistic case study scenarios were designed specifically for the programme, and professional actors are involved to bring the experience to life. This allows everyone to work with different communication and influencing styles in a safe environment and receive feedback from The Myers-Briggs Company facilitator and their peers on their approach.

“The sessions stretched the GPs in a way they have never been stretched before on an L&D programme”, says Rukshana. “It was very successful. They found it uncomfortable, a very unusual thing for them, and they appreciated that opportunity.”

Some GPs were initially sceptical about the MBTI assessment, assuming that it was a ‘test’ of some kind. The Myers-Briggs Company consultant swept away these suspicions by placing the emphasis on the insights and illuminating self-assessment provided by the MBTI framework. This helped get everyone on board with the process. “It was a very safe environment to learn in”, commented one of the GPs.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the programme The Myers-Briggs Company came up with”, says Rukshana. “It went down really well with the GPs. The reflective learning groups were particularly effective. They worked just brilliantly.”

Some of the participants have prior MBTI experience. For this reason the course may be developed further, replacing some of the MBTI ‘basics’ with more in-depth type dynamics development and exercises. The Myers-Briggs Company will review and improve the GP programme further after taking on board feedback, and will implement changes that reflect participants’ needs.

In addition to the GP programme, Macmillan is also using The Myers-Briggs Company’s services in putting together a leadership module and team-building courses. These developments were spun out of the original MBTI-based GP programme.

“The support [The Myers-Briggs Company, formerly OPP] has given us has exceeded my expectations", says Rukshana. "It has been invaluable to the organisation at this point in time because we are in the middle of restructuring and our internal focus is on new ways of working and understanding how each one of us can shape, support and contribute to that.

“I see this as a rolling programme. We now include [The Myers-Briggs Company, formerly OPP] in our prospectus, as part of the core L&D offering.”

I’m absolutely delighted with the programme. It went down really well with the GPs. The reflective learning groups were particularly effective. They worked just brilliantly.

Rukshana KapasiSenior Macmillan Development Manager, East of England. Macmillan