Ever wondered why you might get along with some people better than others? It’s about more than just their “personality." Their behaviors are a key factor. But what is just as important—if not more important—is our perception of those behaviors. Maybe you have a coworker who takes a long time to answer a question, whereas you would have had an answer in minutes. This was the case for me at a previous job; my colleague’s lack of a response consistently aggravated me. I felt ignored and disrespected; it turns out she just needed more time to process the situation and think through all the possible outcomes.
If my organization had used The Birkman Method, much of my frustration, and hers, could have been better managed since we would have better understood our expectations and perceptions of each other’s behaviors. Birkman calls this expectation, our Needs. Each person’s unique Needs influence how we perceive things, how we want others to treat us, and what we expect our environment. Through Signature Certification, you will gain a deeper understanding of yourself and others, allowing you to create a common language with your clients and within your organization to talk about behaviors, expectations, and empower deeper insights into emotional intelligence.
I completed Signature Certification in person, which is a three-day program. Here is what I experienced each day:
The workshop starts with an overview into what Birkman is all about. What do the colors mean? What are Interests, Usual Behaviors, Needs, and Stress Behaviors?
After going over all the basics, we took a deep dive into the Signature Report starting with Interests and how they play a factor in our lives. We referred to our Interests scores. The ones that have a higher percentage are things that we need to find a place for in life, whether it be a part of a job or a hobby outside of work. Interests also play into how we communicate and present information to others.
Our Usual Behaviors show how we see ourselves and how we show up around others. However, each color has its benefits and downsides; the way we do something may not always be the best way for the situation. Therefore, it is helpful to look at the other side, envision a different approach and consider how they could be beneficial if you flexed and added a new style to your repertoire.
To help bridge the gap between different behaviors, our facilitators had us break into groups based on our Usual Behaviors. We then wrote down all our Usual Behaviors on a board and how we saw ourselves. For example, my Usual Behavior is Red; our group saw ourselves as firm, direct, and decision-makers. Next, we switched to the opposite behavior and wrote down how we saw their typical style. With Blue being the contrasting color on the map to Red, we saw their behavior as slow, sometimes indecisive, and cowardly. This exercise allowed each Usual Behavior to realize possible biases we had against behaviors different from our own and challenged us to consider times when an opposite behavior could be more useful in a situation. Now, the perspective of Blue doesn’t look slow or cowardly. That’s just how someone so action-oriented may feel about the opposite color. We all know there are times that thinking through things, planning strategically, and innovating can create the desired outcome. Additionally, I learned how Needs are the most important of all, but they are hidden from the world around us. To be our best selves, we must get our Needs met. But I learned I can’t always count on others to read my mind. Needs are invisible! And I am responsible for getting my Needs met.
During the second day of the training, we ventured to the heart of Birkman Components on the Signature Report and how they make each person unique. There are nine Birkman Components which are the unique behavioral scales that measure specific elements of personality. On this day, I genuinely got to know Birkman behaviors and their importance and the magic of The Birkman Method. I saw the eyes of my peers in the training light up, recognizing the true potential of Birkman and all the possible ways to apply it.
I, for instance, have a Usual Physical Energy score of 93, which is pretty high up there, but my Needs are a 6. This means I typically show up very energetic and love to get things done, but my Needs require me to give my body rest and time to re-energize. After Signature Certification, it became clear to me this is an item that I need to work on in my personal life; as much as I love to get things done, it causes me to burnout.
To me, the best part of Birkman isn't understanding yourself better; it is the ability Birkman gives to you to understand those around you better. Initially, The Birkman Method was called the Test of Social Comprehension because Dr. Birkman intended to understand better why others saw the same scenario in different ways. For example, my Usual Restlessness score is a 90, whereas my colleague is a 34. When working together, I need to remember that although I find it easy to work on a variety of tasks, my coworker does not feel the same way. This doesn’t mean that because her door is shut that she is ignoring me. It means that she is probably concentrating.
Whether you plan to use Birkman for team building, personal coaching, hiring and selection, understanding the Components puts the puzzle pieces together for how practical this tool can be in the workplace.
After two days of immersing ourselves in The Birkman Method, we were finally ready to have our first Birkman conversation. Each of us was assigned a partner at the end of day two and had to prepare ourselves to go over each other's Birkman Signature Reports.
After each pairing had finished their conversation, we did a group debrief about the different ways of going over each report. It was great to get additional insights on to deliver Birkman data and which methods may work best if you are presenting virtually or in person.
The biggest take away I had from day three, is there is no right way to have a Birkman conversation, depending on the format you are delivering it in, either virtual or in-person. Also, you can really tailor your conversation around that person’s Component scores.
Overall, the Birkman Signature Certification course is a well-rounded approach to The Birkman Method. After attending, I have gained a newfound appreciation for those who differ from me and how it is essential to have diversity in an organization. Differing Interests, Usual Behaviors, Needs and Stress Behaviors are integral in the growth of an organization. And Birkman is the only assessment to measure someone’s Needs. By knowing yourself and others, how they show up on a day-to-day basis, and how important it is to meet your Needs, productivity will go through the roof. Now I have tools to communicate to people about the value of a variety of personalities. Connect with us to learn more.