Recently, I was on a phone call with a Color Code client. He is the training director for a large corporation that currently has over 200,000 employees. He told the story about being in a meeting with high-level employees from a company his employer was acquiring, when one of the HR people asked him “Why Color Code?” He thought about it for a minute, and then he asked her what her results were on Myers-Briggs. Even though it was the personality assessment she currently used, all she could say was, “I don’t remember, but I think it starts with an I. He responded, “That’s why we use Color Code.”
One of the most powerful tools in the Color Code arsenal is simplicity. What good is a powerful tool if you don’t know how to use it?
Putting Color Code into action isn’t just about you and your personality. Sure, you can learn what makes you tick and make changes—build on your strengths and try to eliminate your limitations—but the real power comes into play when you use it to build relationships.
Studies have shown that people with a high level of interpersonal skills are far more likely to succeed than those with a high IQ. Learning more about the people around you—and respecting their needs and wants will go a long way in building your interpersonal skills.
Applying these skills in a work setting will not only make you more successful, but will profit the company for whom you work.
Quarterly reviews are due and the manager of sales for a national marketing firm is completing her data. The manager has scheduled meetings with members of her staff who have fallen below projected numbers needed for the third quarter. It isn’t a task she looks forward to, but a problem that must be addressed. Here are some of examples of how a manager with strong interpersonal skills would approach this task.
Reds | The manager has to approach an under-performing Red employee with direct communication. Reds do not require any form of sugar coating. This manager will briefly state the facts and give the supporting data to show that the Red employee needs to improve. Reds do not respond well to being embarrassed, so she will make sure they have complete privacy. Operating in their limitations, Reds can be very argumentative. The frustration or venting of a Red is rarely intended to be personal. She should simply listen, then repeat the facts firmly and redirect the conversation toward possible solutions. An overly emotional response to a confrontational Red only serves to diminish his or her respect for you. If the response is not logical, then Reds tend to fall into another limitation of believing they are right.
Blues | The manager of an under-performing Blue must strive for a balanced approach. Blues can be sensitive, emotional and self-critical. In the meeting, the manager should be direct and clear about the need for improvement. In doing so, show care, concern and support for the Blue and invite him or her to share how they feel about the situation and raise any issues that are of concern. Ask the Blue how you can best support his or her efforts to improve and sincerely acknowledge your appreciation for all the good he or she contributes to the team.
Whites | In the meeting with a White, the manager should use logic and provide clear information for what is needed going into the next quarter. Do not expect much, if any, emotion to be displayed by Whites. They tend to be reserved and do not reflect their feelings readily in their body language. It is easy to mistake White passivity for apathy or a lack of understanding. That, in turn, leads some to become more strident or harsh in an effort to elicit a response from the White. Beware of coming on too strong; allow the White to come up with a plan for improvement. He or she will need time to devise the plan so it makes sense to arrange a follow up meeting.
Yellows | When approaching Yellows about a fault or failing on their part, do not be too critical or serious. That is not to say that the manager in this situation should not be clear about the improvement he or she needs to see from this Yellow employee. But the tone should be a combination of optimism and challenge. The optimism factor comes in understanding that Yellows are particularly responsive to praise. Before describing the failure or shortcoming, be sure and acknowledge the good you see in their work or, alternatively, in them as a person. Yellows naturally have high self-esteem so they consider those comments to be validation of how they already see themselves. Yellows can often be motivated to overcome a myriad of limitations to please the person who sincerely thinks they are great.
As you can see, we have four very different ways to respond to the same problem.
Some managers might think, “Hey, I’m the manager. I’ll respond how I see fit, and too bad if they don’t like it”. From that attitude will come unhappy employees, poor moral, and a negative affect on the bottom line.
So, here’s the challenge. Learn about yourself and others, then put this tool to the test, and watch how powerful it really is.
Teresa Glenn has been working with the Color Code since 2006, where her main focus is product development. She has been in the publishing and product development field for over 20 years. Teresa is a core Red with a strong Yellow secondary.