July 2013

July 15th, 2013 by Jennie O'Reilly

We ran a four-colour personality profiling session internally this month at Steps. Turns out – I am a ‘Helper-Inspirer’. (Primary yellow, with a hint of green!) It was fascinating to find out more about my own preferences, but perhaps more insightful, was finding out what others perceived of me – and whether this compared to my own self-evaluation.

I consider myself to be a fairly sound communicator. I think I can, and regularly do, flex my style to suit my ‘audience’ and can adapt my approach to get the results I need. But this course made me realise that I’m perhaps not quite as effective as I think I am. In principle, the short session allowed us a quick glimpse into the world of 4-colour personality profiling and of course, because this was a quick dash through – we couldn’t go into too much detail. But we went into enough theory for me to realise that there are potential flaws in my approach which could benefit from some attention.

Steps is a very ‘yellow/green’ organisation – characterised by words such as sociable, caring, dynamic, demonstrative, relaxed, encouraging, enthusiastic, persuasive, sharing and expressive. We like to involve, consult and partner with others. In our office, creative ideas abound and we spend time nurturing these and each other – in order to develop and grow. In this environment, I am in the majority – meaning perhaps that I rarely have to flex my style to suit my colleagues because, more often than not, they share the same preferences as me. I have a couple of ‘blue’ colleagues – but I’m not sure I have ever flexed my style sufficiently when communicating with them – rather there is perhaps an unconscious sense of ‘safety in numbers’. Being with the ‘yellow/green’ majority, I know I will have buy in from those who share my ‘yellow/green’ characteristics and that this majority may eventually influence the decision. So, has my similarity with others here led to complacency? Should I be doing more to understand and influence my ‘blue’ colleagues? And how can I challenge myself and my colleagues to experiment with other colour preferences/characteristics in order to be adaptable and ready for change?

Inherently, Steps is very ‘yellow’ – founded by actors and employing many of them means that we have a lot of bubbly, outgoing, bright and creative personalities. We also have a few ‘greens’ – supportive, nurturing, aware – and some ‘blues’ – precise, practical, process-driven. Where we are less represented is in the ‘red’ corner... and thinking about it, there may be solid reasons for this. ‘Red’ personalities are straight to the point - strong-willed, purposeful, and competitive. Perhaps the abundance of ‘yellows’ and ‘greens’ within our business (green being polar opposite on the preferences spectrum from ‘red’, and ‘yellow’ the feeler in opposition to ‘red’ the thinker) makes our working environment and our approach less appealing to those with a tendency towards ‘red’ preferences.

It’s easy in our ‘yellow, green and blue bubble’ to feel we have all those we need in our team. Sure we do – we’re close knit, well matched, supportive of each other and diverse in our capabilities. But what could our team be lacking by not having any primary ‘reds’ on board? Does the makeup of our team suggest that Steps has recruited in its likeness and been (unconsciously) less open to different styles than those that are prevalent within the office already? We’re familiar with this concept from our work around Unconscious Bias – and this example underlines the challenges involved in creating the most diverse and inclusive environment. Hmmmm – food for thought!

We’re currently partnering with personality profiling expert Andy Edwards on an 18 month management development course for a leading client. Drama is a fantastic way of bringing to life different personality types and allowing us to explore how we can adapt our style and preferences to work together more effectively and collaborate efficiently to achieve our goals.

If you would like to know more about Andy himself, or about our creative and engaging approach to personality profiling – please get in touch with Gary BatesSimon Thomson or Alexia Della Valle.


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Marlo Haha! It's funny - I didn't get to attend this session but recently one of our partners was very insistent that I am RED. Perhaps I am a wolf in sheep's clothing? What a fun role to have!

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