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Careers Insight: Learn your firm’s colour scheme

By understanding how we and our colleagues tick, we can learn to work together more effectively and harmoniously

As the old saying goes: ‘There’s nowt so queer as folk.’ While we may like our colleagues greatly, we can often be bewildered, shocked or disappointed by their actions.

We are all different. We read situations differently and preferto be communicated with in different ways. We are not all on the same path with the same motivations and fragilities. We think and feel different things and have different needs.

So how do we work together to ensure these differences do not develop into barriers and rifts within our office relationships? We have to gain a deeper understanding of our colleagues.

To this end, I am an advocate of personality analysis as a tool for decoding our work buddies.

Personality tests can be hugely enlightening. They can throw up questions about who we think we are, how we behave, our preferences, anxieties and potential blind spots. They can make us think about the people we share traits with and those we do not.

Self-awareness

At Brightstar, we think self-awareness is crucial to development and success. We want to know our own strengths and weaknesses, and are all committed to ongoing improvement.

To help with this, we use the Insights Discovery personality testing and evaluation programme. Every team member has a personal Insights Discovery profile based on their responses to the Insights Preference Evaluator exercise.

The system is built around the model of personality first identified by Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung in his 1921 work Psychological Types. His insights have since been adopted as the seminal work in understanding personality. Using Jung’s typology, the Insights Discovery profile offers a framework for self-understanding and development. Research suggests a good understanding of self – in terms of both strengths and weaknesses – enables individuals to develop effective strategies for interaction and can help them better respond to the demands of their environment.

Generated from several hundred thousand permutations of statements, each profile is unique. It categorises the individual as either cool blue, fiery red, earth green or sunshine yellow, and as one of eight personality types: reformer, director, motivator, inspirer, helper, supporter, co-ordinator or observer.

It is important to note we never use this testing as a basis on which to recruit someone. Instead, the evaluator exercise is completed two months in to our induction programme. We hire for attitude and train for skill, so the cultural fit of a person is far more important than their CV.

The personality testing is a way for us to better understand the team member, not to use as a tool to judge them by, label them with or employ as a ‘getout’ card to excuse certain things.

We openly share our profile reports with colleagues and receive regular training based around them so that we can gain a greater understanding of those we work with every day. By knowing these things about ourselves and others, we can learn how to work together effectively.

Cohesion

We are proud of the culture we have and the way our team members work together to achieve great things. Such cohesion and order are essential to the smooth running and success of the business, but they rely on a high degree of harmony.

This harmony is best achieved through mutual understanding. Conflict in life is more often than not sparked by personality clashes. Understand the personalities, diminish the conflict.

There are straightforward ways we can demystify the human type. We often fear and steer away from what we do not understand, while connecting best with what makes us comfortable. The key is to encourage transparency and strengthen awareness so as to facilitate that comfort, while ensuring differences are always viewed as an acceptable strength of any organisation.

Clare Jupp is director of people development at Brightstar

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