Dramatically Increase Productivity By Understanding Employees' Temperaments


This post was originally published on OPEN Forum.    

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The best leaders have an acute understanding of their employees’ temperaments. In the book “Colour Savvy,” authors Susan Geary and Anne Bulstrode discuss four different temperaments—Inquiring Green, Resourceful Orange, organised Gold and Authentic Blue—based on a person’s needs and values.

If you’re able to identify these different temperaments in people, you can pinpoint their strengths and challenges. You will also understand the best ways to interact and work with them.

Temperaments are different from personalities, because several temperaments can make up a personality, Geary and Bulstrode say, but everyone is born with a “preferred way of doing things,” or a preferred temperament. Here’s how to best work with these four types:

1. Inquiring Green
Inquiring Greens include Martin Luther King, Jr. and Woody Allen

“Inquiring Greens” are constantly on an ongoing quest for knowledge, usually through facts and data. They tend to be independent thinkers and don’t like others telling them what to do. “They value progress and improvement … tend not to get mired in the past or present but are oriented to the future and progression,” the authors write.

These employees make great visionary and strategic leaders and are “especially adept at dealing with complex issues—whether it is a computer, mechanical or organizational problems.” They are primarily big picture people and can see possible pitfalls and contingencies in a situation. However, they are also prone to feeling uncomfortable in social situations and therefore may give off a cold, impatient and uncaring vibe. 

Tips for working with an Inquiring Green:

  • Present your arguments in a logical manner.
  • Show confidence.
  • Be willing to debate ideas, and be open to feedback and critiquing. 
  • Be a problem solver; come to the table with a solution.
  • Keep your cool; don’t get offended by their bluntness.
  • Don’t make small talk.
  • Don’t micromanage them.

2. Resourceful Orange
Resourceful Oranges include Ronald Reagan and Richard Branson

These people typically hate to sit still for long periods of time and usually value excitement and action more than planning. They tend to make decisions quickly and don’t like to spend too much time thinking about it. Furthermore, they prefer change and unpredictability to a stable environment.

Resourceful Oranges are the most adaptable out of all the Temperaments and “function optimally when they need to work on tight deadlines or juggle multiple priorities.” When problems arise, these people automatically go into action mode and don’t tend to panic. They are also great negotiators and have an easy time charming others to get them on board with their missions.

Since they are highly energetic and like to do things spontaneously, they may have a reputation as being “immature, rambunctious, noisy, disordered and careless.”

Tips for working with a Resourceful Orange:

  • Use humour when dealing with Resourceful Oranges.
  • Do not expect a micromanager.
  • Create a competitive environment, because these workers think it’s a game.
  • Tell Resourceful Oranges what you want accomplished, not how to do the job.
  • Make use of their skills in a crisis situation.
  • Make them feel part of the team.

3. organised Gold
organised Golds include Queen Elizabeth II and Julia Child 

These people think it’s important to be part of a community, so they work best when they feel a sense of belonging. They prefer hierarchical structures and believe that everyone should have specific duties and responsibilities. They perform best in teams and groups. organised Golds thrive at planning and organising and have an easy time identifying priorities and managing others.

As for their challenges, organised Golds often have a difficult time remaining calm in different scenarios. They are overprotective, sometimes rigid and, often, overworked and exhausted. They prefer routine and don’t do well with change. 

Tips for working with an organised Gold: 

  • Present your ideas in a systematic way.
  • Be punctual.
  • Be prepared and open to criticism.
  • Be a team player.
  • Give these people a sense of belonging.
  • Fill them in on the details of a task.

4. Authentic Blue
Authentic Blues include Oprah Winfrey and Jimmy Carter

These people are always trying to find meaning and significance in their personal and professional lives. Out of all the temperaments, Authentic Blues are the best at communicating with others and “can be gifted in the use of stories, analogies and metaphors.” However, since they are so in tune with their feelings and everyone else’s feelings, these people are often hypersensitive to criticism and conflict and are “overly helpful.”

Tips for working with an Authentic Blue:

  • Focus on the future, not the past.
  • Make use of stories, metaphors and analogies when explaining yourself. 
  • Use personal examples to make your point. 
  • Listen to them when they are not satisfied with something.
  • When presenting new ideas or tasks, start with the big picture and then drill down to the detail if necessary.

See More On Open Forum:

  • The 4 most important relationships you need at work >
  • How to break down culture barriers in emerging markets >
  • 8 bad habits that destroy client relationships >

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