Timothy Butler

Senior Fellow
Director of Career Development Programs, MBA Program Administration

Unit: Entrepreneurial Management

Contact:

(617) 495-6727

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Timothy Butler is a Senior Fellow and Director of Career Development Programs. His research interests focus on career decision making generally and the relationship between personality structure and work satisfaction in particular. He has published technical papers on career assessment psychometrics and small group dynamics in academic journals and numerous practitioner oriented articles in periodicals such as Fortune, Fast Company and the Harvard Business Review. His books include Discovering Your Career in Business (Addison-Wesley, 1997), The Twelve Bad Habits That Hold Good People Back (Doubleday, 2002), and Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths (Harvard Business School Press, 2007).

Tim Butler's research on the relationship between personality structure and business career satisfaction led to the development of three psychometric instruments, The Business Career Interest Inventory, The Management and Professional Rewards Profile and the Management and Professional Abilities Profile. These three inventories have been presented with interactive interpretive tools as an integrated Internet-based business career self-assessment program known as CareerLeader, which is used for business career assessment and development by over 300 business schools and corporations around the world.

Dr. Butler has taught for executive education programs and lectured at business schools throughout North America, Europe, and Asia and has consulted to senior managers from organizations ranging from small technology start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. His consulting work has been most extensive in the Investment Management industry.

    Publications

    Books

    1. Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy. Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2007.
    2. The Twelve Bad Habits That Hold Good People Back

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. The Twelve Bad Habits That Hold Good People Back. New York: Currency/Doubleday, 2000. (Foreign Language Editions: Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese Chinese, Arabic, Korean.)
    3. Discovering Your Career in Business

      Keywords: Personal Development and Career;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and James Waldroop. Discovering Your Career in Business. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley Longman, 1997. (Foreign Edition: Dutch.)

    Journal Articles

    1. The Hidden Flaws of Top Executives: How to Find Them Before You Hire Them

      Keywords: Management; Selection and Staffing;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "The Hidden Flaws of Top Executives: How to Find Them Before You Hire Them." HR Professional (April/May 2006).
    2. A Function-Centered Model of Interest Assessment for Business Careers

      Keywords: Personal Development and Career; Interests; Surveys;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and James Waldroop. "A Function-Centered Model of Interest Assessment for Business Careers." Journal of Career Assessment 12, no. 3 (August 2004): 270–284.
    3. Understanding 'People' People

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and James Waldroop. "Understanding 'People' People." Harvard Business Review 82, no. 6 (June 2004).
    4. Customizing Careers

      Keywords: Personal Development and Career;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "Customizing Careers." Pathways: The Novartis Journal 2, no. 3 (2001).
    5. The Art of Work and the Role of Human Resources In It

      Keywords: Jobs and Positions;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "The Art of Work and the Role of Human Resources In It." Employment Relations Today 27, no. 3 (autumn 2000).
    6. Managing away Bad Habits

      Keywords: Management;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "Managing away Bad Habits." Harvard Business Review 78, no. 5 (September–October 2000). (Anthologized as a chapter in "Harvard Business Review on Finding and Keeping the Best People" and in "Harvard Business Review on Developing Leaders.")
    7. Job Sculpting: The Art of Retaining Your Best People

      Keywords: Retention; Jobs and Positions;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and James Waldroop. "Job Sculpting: The Art of Retaining Your Best People." Harvard Business Review 77, no. 5 (September–October 1999). (Anthologized as a chapter in "HBR on Finding and Keeping the Best People.")
    8. Eight Failings That Bedevil the Best

      Keywords: Failure;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "Eight Failings That Bedevil the Best." Fortune (November 23, 1998).
    9. Finding the Job You Should Want

      Keywords: Jobs and Positions;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and James Waldroop. "Finding the Job You Should Want." Fortune (March 28, 1998).
    10. The Executive as Coach

      Keywords: Management;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "The Executive as Coach." Harvard Business Review 74, no. 6 (November–December 1996). (Anthologized on the Harvard Business School Press audio tape "Leading Your People.")
    11. Desperation

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy. "Desperation." Quadrant 25, no. 1 (1992).
    12. Professional Psychologists as Group Treatment Providers: Utilization, Training, and Trends

      Keywords: Health; Groups and Teams; Training; Trends;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and Adelaide Fuhriman. "Professional Psychologists as Group Treatment Providers: Utilization, Training, and Trends." Professional Psychology: Research and Practice 17, no. 3 (June 1986).
    13. Gender and Sex-Role Attributes as Predictors of Utilization of Natural Support Systems During Personal Stress Events

      Keywords: System; Health; Gender Characteristics;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, Steven Giordano, and Steven Neren. "Gender and Sex-Role Attributes as Predictors of Utilization of Natural Support Systems During Personal Stress Events." Sex Roles 13, nos. 9-10 (December 1985).
    14. Curative Factors in Group Psychotherapy: A Review of the Recent Literature

      Keywords: Health Care and Treatment; Information; Groups and Teams;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and Adelaide Fuhriman. "Curative Factors in Group Psychotherapy: A Review of the Recent Literature." Small Group Behavior 14, no. 2 (May 1983).
    15. Level of Functioning and Length of Time in Treatment Variables Influencing Patient's Therapeutic Experience in Group Psychotherapy

      Keywords: Health; Groups and Teams; Health Care and Treatment;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and Adelaide Fhuriman. "Level of Functioning and Length of Time in Treatment Variables Influencing Patient's Therapeutic Experience in Group Psychotherapy." International Journal of Group Psychotherapy 33, no. 4 (1983).
    16. Patient Perspective on the Curative Process: A Comparison of Day Treatment and Outpatient Psychotherapy Groups

      Keywords: Health; Groups and Teams; Health Care and Treatment; Perspective;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and Adelaide Fuhriman. "Patient Perspective on the Curative Process: A Comparison of Day Treatment and Outpatient Psychotherapy Groups." Small Group Behavior 11, no. 4 (November 1980).

    Book Chapters

    1. Why People Will Work for You

      Keywords: Employees; Attitudes; Motivation and Incentives; Leadership;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy. "Why People Will Work for You." In Remember Who You Are: Life Stories That Inspire the Heart and Mind, edited by Daisy Wademan. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2004.
    2. Is a Career in Finance (and which one?) Right for You?

      Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Personal Development and Career; Finance; Financial Services Industry; Banking Industry;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "Is a Career in Finance (and which one?) Right for You?" In The Harvard Business School Guide to Careers in Finance, edited by Anil Pandey and Omotayo T. Okusanya. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.
    3. Is Management Consulting the Right Career—For You?

      Keywords: Personal Development and Career; Decision Making; Management Systems; Consulting Industry;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "Is Management Consulting the Right Career—For You?" In The Harvard Business School Guide to Careers in Management Consulting, edited by Jason Dehni. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.
    4. Is a Career in Marketing Right for You?

      Keywords: Decision Choices and Conditions; Personal Development and Career; Marketing;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. "Is a Career in Marketing Right for You?" In The Harvard Business School Guide to Careers in Marketing, edited by Ann Chen. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.

    Cases and Teaching Materials

    1. Assessing Business Work Reward Values

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy. "Assessing Business Work Reward Values." Harvard Business School Technical Note 813-053, July 2012.
    2. Resolving Your Founding Dilemmas: Insights from CareerLeader

      Citation:

      Wasserman, Noam, Timothy Butler, and Lisa Brem. "Resolving Your Founding Dilemmas: Insights from CareerLeader." Harvard Business School Background Note 812-027, November 2011. (Revised March 2012.)
    3. Working with Symbolic Intelligence: The 100 Jobs Exercise

      Keywords: Jobs and Positions;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy. "Working with Symbolic Intelligence: The 100 Jobs Exercise." Harvard Business School Exercise 812-064, December 2011.
    4. What We Carry: Success, Failure, and Happiness in Family Systems

      The purpose of this exercise is to enable participants to identify essential career and life themes. The core task of the exercise is to extract themes, images, metaphors and "dynamic tensions" from a list of exciting careers that have been selected from a larger career list.

      Keywords: Family and Family Relationships; Success; Failure; Happiness;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy. "What We Carry: Success, Failure, and Happiness in Family Systems." Harvard Business School Exercise 812-026, December 2011.
    5. Deeply Embedded Life Interests

      Keywords: Interests;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy. "Deeply Embedded Life Interests." Harvard Business School Exercise 812-065, December 2011.
    6. Working with Symbolic Intelligence: The 10 Images Exercise

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, Janet Kraus, and David Crabbe. "Working with Symbolic Intelligence: The 10 Images Exercise." Harvard Business School Exercise 812-063, December 2011.
    7. Managing Your Career: A Module in the Harvard Business School Press ManageMentor Program

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. Managing Your Career: A Module in the Harvard Business School Press ManageMentor Program. Tool. 1999. Electronic.
    8. Retaining Valued Employees: A Module in the Harvard Business School Press ManageMentor Program

      Keywords: Retention;

      Citation:

      Waldroop, James, and Timothy Butler. Retaining Valued Employees: A Module in the Harvard Business School Press ManageMentor Program. Tool. 1999. Electronic.
    9. Management and Professional Abilities Profile

      Keywords: Management Skills; Measurement and Metrics;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and James Waldroop. "Management and Professional Abilities Profile." 1998. (A psychometric instrument for measuring business abilities.)
    10. CareerLeader

      Keywords: Personal Development and Career;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and James Waldroop. CareerLeader. Tool. 1998. Electronic. (A comprehensive business career self-assessment program.)
    11. Business Career Interest Inventory

      Keywords: Personal Development and Career; Interests;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy, and James Waldroop. "Business Career Interest Inventory." 1996. Electronic. (A psychometric instrument for measuring strength of core business interests.)
    12. Management and Professional Reward Profile

      Keywords: Motivation and Incentives; Management Analysis, Tools, and Techniques;

      Citation:

      Butler, Timothy. "Management and Professional Reward Profile." 1987. Electronic. (A psychometric instrument for measuring business work reward values.)

      Research Summary

    1. My research is concerned with the way in which people find their way to meaningful and satisfying work. I am also interested in the way in which the culture and productivity of business organizations are enhanced when individuals are able to move toward work activities that are inherently satisfying. I approach this research from the perspective of cognitive psychology, and in particular from that aspect of cognitive of psychology that concerns itself with the reciprocal relationship between the individual and culture as the individual makes and finds meaning in the worlds of work organization and social organization and builds the cultures of work and society in the process of doing so. In this regard the most fundamental aspect of my work is concerned with meaning making.
    2. One aspect of my research is highly quantitative, based on the construction and analysis of psychometric instruments, and another relies on the qualitative data obtained from the interview process. I look upon both psychometric and interview-derived data in terms of a broader meaning-making perspective. Both the interpretation of sophisticated psychological testing and the self-assessment interview process are concerned with the elicitation of images that become the basis for the building of career and life narratives and the enactment of those narratives.
    3. Meaningful Work as the Recognition and Expression of Deeply Embedded Life Interests

      A large part of my research efforts over the past twenty years has been focused on the understanding of meaning as the recognition and expression of "deeply embedded life interests", an aspect of the psychology of human personality that has a long tradition of empirical research. This work has led to the development of three psychometric instruments: The Business Career Interest Inventory, The Management and Professional Reward Profile, and the Management and Professional Abilities Profile. I now work from a database of this psychological testing on over 75,000 business professionals and MBA students that has been gathered as a consequence of my investigations. My concern in much of this research as been with the way in which specific work roles and business cultures allow for the realization of underlying interest patterns. This work is on-going as I continue to explore the nuances of the ways in which individual personality differences affect the pursuit of satisfying work. I am currently working on several projects in this area, including an investigation of cross-cultural differences in business related life interests.
    4. Meaningful Work as a Process of Imagination, Narrative, Self-Efficacy and Enactment

      I am particularly concerned with the elicitation of images as they represent, in their association and amplification, the fullness of cognition in its affective, rational and behavioral dimensions. Careers may be conceptualized as a reciprocal interaction of imagination, narrative building and enactment. I am interested in an individual’s capacity to generate images of meaningful work, understand how these images can become realized in the full context of his or her life, and move toward work roles and work environments where these images may be enacted. In regard to this “moving toward” aspect, I have an interest in social cognitive psychology and, in particular, career self-efficacy. I am currently beginning a new study in this area which will look at self-efficacy for career satisfaction.