Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Does your Mentor or Protege Have a True Color?

We’ve all described friends and colleagues by summing up their personality type. “You know he/she is a _______ type person. While I don’t believe in putting anyone into a specific box (we are all of course individuals), I am quite fond of using the True Colors assessment when teaching students and clients about mentoring. True Colors provides a truncated version of the respected Myers-Briggs instrument giving insight into personality type.

Personality type is a major talking-point in the organizational behavior field. Human resource management and career development professionals often find personality assessments to be really helpful when working with clients. I used this recently with my Legg Mason clients and they seemed to get a lot out of it.

When it comes to mentoring personality types have been oddly overlooked or undervalued. Understanding the core facets of personality type can go a long way towards building a successful mentoring relationship.

What is your personality type? It only takes about 10 minutes to complete the instruments and participants generally find themselves sorted into one of four types:

1) Orange is the color of artisans and adventurers. Orange people are playful, spontaneous, and fun. They value competition, variety, and action. They feel stressed by routine, strick rules and slow anything! Oranges might be perceived as irresponsible, flaky and not serious enough. In terms of leaders, Richard Branson seems like a great example of an Orange personality. Another guess is Greg Mortenson (author of Three Cups of Tea and founder of Central Asia Institute).
2) Gold are the Guardians. They stabilize us and help to keep us from living in a state of disorder. They prefer to do things in an orderly fashion. They are dependable, responsible, and get it done right and on time. Their stress points are lack of punctuality, slackers and messiness. They are often perceived as controlling, dull and rigid. Many leaders and CEO’s are Gold. My guess is that President Barak Obama is a Gold personality types.
3) Blues are idealists and harmonizers. Their desire is for everyone to get along. Value, harmony and beauty are important to them. They do not like arguments, dishonesty or a lack of communication and connection. Blues can be perceived as weak and overly emotional. Although I have not had the pleasure of meeting her in person, my guess is Oprah Winfrey is likely a strong Blue. (and yes, I am a Blue so perhaps a bit partial to this color).
4) Greens are both rational and visionary. They often have an innovative spirit and believe fully in their own competence. And often they do in fact have the answers. Greens are usually intelligent and have deep knowledge and passion about their subject matter. They get stressed by less intelligent people, overemotional people and general incompetence. Greens do not suffer fools lightly and can be perceived as arrogant. I suspect Steve Jobs was a strong Green.
I am of course simplifying personality types quite a bit. People can be a combination of these types and because the True Colors sorts people into four categories, the finer complexity that one would expect in a more sophisticated instrument like Myers Briggs is not present here.
Match-ups matter in mentoring, so if you have a mentoring partner with a different “color” should you be worried? Yes and no. Differences are good because they stimulate dialogue and increase understanding but they must be addressed so here is a short primer:
If your mentoring partner is Orange:
-Lighten up, appreciate their humor and jokes
-Allow some time for irreverence and letting off steam.
-Provided unstructured structure
-They are probably socially adept and have high emotional intelligence- think about how you can learn from and build on those strengths.
If your mentoring partner is Gold:
-Be aware of the importance of time and planning.
-Be sure that you are attentive to their need to organize and control
-Understand that Golds like rules and structure so consider that in coaching conversations.
If your mentoring partner is Blue:
-Spend some time getting to know them. Ask about the small things.
-Ask their opinion on interpersonal issues.
-Be calm about critical feedback but be careful of the tendency to avoid it because you fear their emotional reaction.
-Capitalize on the harmonizing skills of the Blue by allowing them to be the “good cop.”
If your mentoring partner is Green:
-Provide logical explanations and data to support your claims.
-Be clear, precise and linear in your communication.
-Appreciate their ideas and leverage their passion and vision.

And lastly, remember that there is no good or bad color. So what “color” should your mentor or protégé be? Understand the differences and it will all work out just fine.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Managers: Make Media Links Work for You

Media is visual. When used correctly it is a great tool to explicate management concepts. But, you have to respect the sophistication of your audience. They are accustomed to high production values and streamlined, effective messages. Unfortunately, many corporate videos combine low production values, a lack of talent and a hammer the point home message that leaves viewers bored, insulted and tuned out.
If you use a media clip it needs to be clearly linked to the theory or concept and then thoroughly debriefed. Don’t use a bad example to get cheap laughs and don’t try to force your message into an existing piece of media. Your audience knows when you’re trying too hard and they don’t like it.
I always say the first rule of teaching is to keep people awake and the second rule is to teach them something. This idea applies to business as well. If you use a clip, it should grab the audience’s attention and hold it there with a targeted well thought out message.
If you have an idea for a movie or TV show that demonstrates a management concept, please leave it here. I will highlight the best of the best in future blogs.
Keep watching and sharing!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Inspiring Students. Inspired Field Learning.

I have this friend who always knows everything about pop-culture. I mean EVERYTHING. So I asked him if he knew what “torquing” was. He had no idea. He said, “Dunno, sounds like a car thing.” I smiled triumphantly and explained that in fact torquing was a dance, the coolest urban expression out there.

Finally stumping my friend was pretty great. But, there was a purpose to my query—stemming from a moment in class that got me thinking about the strange parallels between booty shaking and organizational behavior/human resource management at a Jesuit University.

Students in my Managing People and Organizations class were giving a great presentation about what they’re learning from this semester’s community based learning project. For this project, students work a minimum of 15 hours in community based organizations and then write two papers and do a presentation about their experiences.

I consistently try to weave their experiences into the class topics related to organizational behavior and human resource management. For example, when we studied organizational culture, the students analyzed the culture of their field learning placements. They served as mentors for kids, visitors to the elderly, and provided food for the hungry among many other activities. In this presentation, the students shared that some of their young charges were “torquing” and it made the students realize how important they can be as mentors. Today’s youth are bombarded with media erected role models, many of whom may not be serving their best interests. My students saw an opportunity to show them another perspective.

I found their insight and initiative inspiring. And this particular group was not alone. My students often surprise me in wonderful ways. Here are a few student led insights that I think can be applied to any job and life in general.

1) Training is not enough. You have to expect the unexpected and be light on your feet when it comes. One of my students was giving out snacks to kids at volunteer afterschool care placement and a conflict ensued. He wondered- “Do I make the kids share?” or is this a real world lesson where sometimes we don’t have enough?

2) Rules are meant to be broken. One of my students was told by her placement official that she was never to assist a resident in or out of their wheelchairs. But, when she encountered an elderly gentleman who was falling, she helped him rather than watch him fall.

3) Service and play are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes service gets a bad rap and I admit that while I love to assign these projects to my students, I occasionally have to get over my own fear or discomfort when I actually go to a non-profit to serve one-on-one! But as I listen to my students I am happy and amazed by how much fun they are having. They play sports with kids, make art, carve pumpkins, listen to stories, and go to senior resident prom. In our busy lives we often forget to play. And even more so we forget that joy and inspiration can be found in the have to moments. Serve and play. It’s awesome.

Tell me Dear Readers. What have you learned from field learning, service learning or community based learning that inspires you?