Colorful communication leads to smoother projects
It would be helpful if we could read the minds of clients during the preconstruction phase of a project, so we could know exactly how to create what they envision. Mind reading, however, is not very practical, so we opted for the next best thing.
CG Schmidt recently started using a tool that helps us and our partners to better communicate and understand each other. It is called The People Skills Series, which includes a “personality type indicator,” developed by California-based professional trainer and educator Vicki L. Barnes. It is most often used during our initial partnering sessions, which are visioning and teambuilding discussions involving the owner, the archi-tectural team, and us.
According to Barnes, the personality profiling system is beneficial for a company that focuses on healthcare construction because it allows for more accurate exchange of information, whether written or verbal, through a better understanding of personality types. “It helps us understand the underlying obstacles that prevent teams from moving forward and the appealing hooks that move them toward resolution and productivity,” she noted. For example, if we can effectively communicate concepts with an architect, processes like constructing an addition onto a working facility will go much more smoothly.
Barnes' system identifies personality types based on color. According to the system, there are four personality types: Yellows are known as Promoters, Blues are Planners, Reds are Producers, and Greens are Peacekeepers.
Lou Jantzen, a CG Schmidt project director with approximately 30 years of experience in more than $278 million worth of healthcare construction, is a Blue, or a Planner. Jantzen's second color is Red, which highlights the Producer in him. “The personality I have is pretty well suited to the work I do,” Jantzen says of his profile. He says the system has helped him better interact with various positions along the chain of command during his construction of healthcare facilities. “At the manager/director level, more often than not, they're Planners. At the vice-president/president level, it depends. Generally they're Producers.”
Of the half-dozen CG Schmidt clients who have taken the survey, most are Producers and Planners. Architects, however, range from Promoters to Producers and Planners. Usually, superintendents fall into the Producer category, with a few of them being Peacekeepers. The daily architects and project managers are mostly Planners.
Each category represents certain personality traits. Pro-ducers are generally assertive achievers who bring leadership, urgency, and business acumen to a team. Producers and Planners are found most often in the building industry. Many Producers are leaders of Fortune 100 companies, or they might become police officers or athletes. Producers tend to shoulder responsibility without making excuses and have no patience for the excuses of others. They are also impatient with indecision, incompetence, and delays. About 11% of Americans are Producers, according to the Center for Application of Psychological Type in Gainesville, Florida.
Yellows, or Promoters, are the idea-a-minute people, the visionaries. Fast-paced and liking variety, they are creative and use their strong verbal skills, natural energy, and charisma to sell ideas. According to the Center, on a national level an estimated 14% of the population are Promoters. You'll often find them working in the sales or public relations departments of a company. Promoters would rather motivate, manage, and encourage people than work on systems and processes. This is why, for Promoters, the planning, execution, and proper evaluation of a project are sometimes boring.
Blues, or Planners, on the other hand, are gatherers of information, collectors of data, finders of facts. About 38% of the population are Planners, according to the Center. Planners like working with numbers, designing charts, and making graphs. They prefer information that is tangible, measurable, and can be tracked. Planners tend to lean more toward the engineering and finance departments of a company. Careers in education, banking, and insurance are also common for this personality type, as Planners are cautious about risk taking, decision making, and change.
Greens, or Peacekeepers, are masters at assessing human dynamics and finding better ways of doing things. They are practical problem solvers who like to focus first on people, then on products and processes. A total of 37% of the nation's population falls into this category, usually in healthcare careers or social services. Peacekeepers generally have wonderful listening skills and are nonjudgmental. Peacekeepers like to avoid confrontation, but when faced with injustice, they are determined defenders, with strong negotiating skills. Fre-quently, they are the ones sitting on the answers to the problem, while everyone talks over them.
Bruce Danek, a CG Schmidt project manager with 15 years of experience working on healthcare facilities, is a Promoter. He notes that better communication is essential when explaining complicated information: “A system like this is especially helpful when relaying highly technical details. As a Promoter, I'm more verbal, but now I also know how to be more effective in communicating information to people with personalities very different from mine, like Planners, who want more than just the highlights.”
This thorough knowledge of what makes people tick has helped us to be more productive, effective business partners, and we think our clients have noticed. One client in charge of a project found The People Skills Series so useful that he had us work with his company's board of directors, so they could discuss some upcoming tough decisions more effectively. We've had another client ask us to survey his department.
After all, we figure that quality construction is based on accurately receiving and relaying information. A personality type indicator can be just as valuable as a level or a square in ensuring the success of a team and a project. HD
For more information on The People Skills Series, visit the Web site at http://www.peopleskills4u.com, contact CG Schmidt at (414) 577-1177, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. To comment on this article, please send e-mail to email@example.com.
Healthcare Design 2003 November;3(4):8-9