If you understand how the brain works, you can reach anyone.
— Dr. H. Fisher
Work 4.0: New methods of cooperation require a modern understanding of cooperation – Neurocolor uses the latest research in neuroscience to improve your work environment
The global understanding of the importance of teamwork has been shifting dramatically over the last decades. Many factors have contributed to this change, including innovations in the field of digital networks, but also agility and methods of collaborative and non-hierarchical leadership. The very fundamental roles of cooperating employees and employers is changing and, as a result, our organisational landscape is in somewhat of a turmoil. Very concretely speaking, the shifts in action look as follows: Employees are becoming more and more active and flexible co-creators and are beginning to help shape and uphold the perceived image of a company. Meanwhile, employers and leaders must reinvent their leadership models, moving away from traditional understandings of management and ‘control’.
Furthermore, the requirements of the markets are undergoing rapid change, so that working production lines have to be kept at a steady flow, while at the same time new strategies for the fast changing future need to be developed. This situation of massive simultaneous change comes with a higher probability for misunderstandings or for failed collaboration.
What’s the actionable challenge at this point?
Each individual worker needs different arrangements for good teamwork. A better understanding of communicative preferences and needs is helpful, since it bridges the gap between team members independently from their formal position or role within a company.
You may fly in a plane of the early 19th century, or a modern jet plane!
For an enhanced cohesion among individuals within an organisation, personality tests (such as DISC, Myers Briggs, The Big Five…) are often applied. While the majority of personality tests are based on traditional thought patterns or scientific research of the early 19th century (e.g. C.G. Jung), we need to ask if these methods still apply in a highly flexible work environment, with new forms of cooperation, which require fast decisions?
At this point biological anthropologist and neuroscientist Dr. Helen Fisher comes in. She developed Neurocolor between 2004 and 2016, while building upon already existing models.
Having studied personality traits from a biological viewpoint, she could find a correlation between human behavior on the one hand and hormones or neurotransmitters on the other hand. Her findings have been affirmed by numerable tests of 40,000 people and since 2012 with the help of magnetic resonance tomography (fMRI).
The result is a method that helps turning disturbing differences into bridges for better understanding and successful cooperation
Four large hormonal systems influence brain activity and native personality traits: the serotonin, dopamine, testosterone and estrogen systems. While each person is influenced by these four hormones and neurotransmitters on a daily basis the levels of these hormones during the embryonic development result in different personality preferences with one or two hormonal systems usually being more dominant.
Neurocolor assesses an individual’s personality through a questionnaire and uses four colors representing the four hormonal systems to depict the individual’s personal make-up. Applying this knowledge can help teams with large neuro-diversity to become very productive, in that individual preferences can be used to their advantage, instead of having them work against one another.
Bascule bridge – an obstacle becomes a connecting element
People who are high in blue are careful, measured and structured. They prefer the familiar, respect social norms and traditional values. They work conscientiously, thoroughly and in detail-oriented and organized manners. Working with them is very effective if you have a well thought out plan that is clear and well-prepared. Unexplained details, open questions and postponements until the last minute on the other hand, can disrupt the working relationship
If there is a high yellow preference, people tend to be full of energy and curiosity. They frequently focus on exploring new experiences, adventures and they also like taking risks. They have many ideas and interests, are optimistic and enthusiastic, but also adaptable, by being able to change their plans quickly.
For a working relationship with these people, one should not strictly adhere to plans, provide lengthy explanations or insist on risks and disadvantages. They need an array of many possibilities and would like to be involved in the development of ideas.
A high proportion of red results in personalities full of ambition, determination, confidence and strategic thinking. These people understand shelf-based systems such as mathematics, technology, music and science, they have a spatial awareness and think goal-oriented and analytical.
In order to be seen as an equal partner, your counterpart should have a plan, get to the point and justify his ideas logically. Emotions and caution however, are perceived as weaknesses.
Testosterone is not a purely masculine hormone, it is a personality preference that is prevalent in men and women alike.
Concurringly, estrogen is also produced in men and can shape personality accordingly.
People with high green seek harmony. They are compassionate, soulful, thoughtful, imaginative, trusting and linguistically gifted. They read between the lines, look for a deeper meaning within comments and situations and often reflect on them even days later.
Trust, a common ground, transparency and background information are important for working with them. Purely logical reasoning and dispute lead to no easy result.
How can we use Neurocolor at work?
To illustrate how Neurocolor can be employed, we’d like to propose a case study: A top leadership team of a fast growing company aspiring to be the first in the market.
Although the leadership team is generally in agreement about the development of the organization, conflicts in meetings happen frequently. For many, the implementation is happening too slowly; deficient structures in the organization increasingly burden the potential growth.
Looking at the dominant preferences of the team members tells us the following: the leadership team wants progress (yellow). It favors clear arrangements and the members are able to develop new concepts (red). The careful thinking and planning as well as emphatic aspects are underrepresented (blue and green).
Knowing this, the team can undergo a change of attitude: So far, concerns of employees coming from a blue perspective have been considered as limiting or slowing down growth. Now they have become part of the planning process for the high goals of the leadership team.
The employees can now accept the brisk questioning of the leadership team as an emancipated act of exchanging ideas and do not see it any longer as the expression of dominance that each employee has to accept even if they have their doubts.
The majority of the leadership have a high preference for yellow and red, while people with detail orientation show high blue preferences (as you can see, people with high blue are not part of this team). In the course of the workshop it becomes clear that people with a high blue preference are underrepresented. At the same time, it is understood that these people are necessary for well-balanced results and functioning structures as the foundation for further growth.
An inspiring insight from this mind-shift: the perceived doubt bearers and obstructionists become important team members, whose perspective is a valuable contribution to the entire company.
Neurocolor: A benefit for both: the individual and the team
The evaluation of the Neurocolor questionnaires results in a 22 page Individual Personality Report that is presented to each team member in the team development workshops.
The score of each individual is also evaluated with respect to the whole team. This is shown with expressive and clear charts so that the personalities within each team become clearly visible and their significance within the team is shown.
The image shows that there is no person with a blue preference, while yellow preferences are quite frequent. This team vividly discusses new projects and methods frequently but there might be a lack of people with a down-to-earth approach.
Example: Leadership team of a fast growing company
Example 2: The dimensions openness and extroversion are helpful to improve the dynamics in the team.
The parameters introverted/extroverted and outgoing/reserved are further personality aspects which largely affect team cooperation.
All but the team leader Jan are extroverted and more openly communicative.
This helps to explain the difficulties of the team, which were mentioned before the workshop: The team was concerned about the team leader’s lack of communication and information sharing.
Extroversion — Gets energy from being together with others.
Introversion — Invigorated by alone time and reflection.
Reserved — Keeps his emotions or opinions for longer, is self-sufficient and calm.
Outgoing — Friendly and confident in dealing with others, communicative and approachable (receptive, interested).
Learning the fast assessment of personality
It is crucial to be aware of oneself and to accept oneself in order to interact successfully with others. The Individual Personality Report is the basis for this. Each team member is encouraged to discuss his/her results openly with his/her team. Thus, each team member gets a deeper understanding of how the others work and how to best interact with them. The team gets to know each other faster and better and a mutual understanding of team dynamics is established. The underlying and previously hidden causes for controversies and misunderstandings become obvious and can be overcome.
The involvement with Neurocolor also has a learning effect that should not be underestimated: it trains the eye for the personality of other people. Even without a personally-discussed test result, it becomes possible to judge people, understand their preferences and motivations, and build a sustainable connection. This is how differences transform into bridges for a deeper understanding.
In which situations is looking at personality preferences with Neurocolor particularly helpful?
Leadership: Knowing the personality traits of team members is the foundation for building successful teams and shaping the leadership style toward individuals and the entire team.
Teams with flat hierarchies and agile working methods: If the team members are aware of themselves and each other, communication and cooperation become easier.
Teams undergoing change: Change, adaptations and restructuring are important and necessary for organizations, but often difficult to implement. Especially then successful communication and a fruitful collaboration are decisive for the course and result of the changes.
Teams with differences: Working with Neurocolor brings the underlying, hidden causes for misunderstandings to the surface. This is the starting point to an open discussion. A mutual understanding begins to develop and solutions are found.
Startups: Starting a business in itself has many challenges. Applying Neurocolor helps to recognize the personalities of the people around you much faster and considerably reduces the difficulties of selecting matching staff and composing high performance teams.
With these concrete offers, you and your team can benefit from the findings of Neurocolor:
Duration: 1 Day
Each participant receives his personal profile. In addition, the characteristics in the composition of the team are discussed, with attention to existing strengths and the transformation of potential conflicts.
Workshop: Team Realignment
Duration: 2 Days
In addition to being guided by Neurocolor, a tailor-made program is being developed to take your team to the next level, both in terms of relationship and content while considering your strategic goals.
Coaching: Neurocolor Change Leadership Coaching
Duration: As agreed
Based on your personality preferences, this coaching focuses on mastering the challenges of leadership, strategic communication, and organizational alignment.
High performance teams thanks to “Neuro-Diversity”
A high performance team is both aiming at an ambitious goal and at the same time brings awareness to the “how”: “How do we get there TOGETHER?”
If you’d like to learn more about our work, please get in touch. The team at Hendrik Backerra Consulting are experts specialized in organization development and we are certified Neurocolor partners. We are here to guide you and your team on your journey towards true ‘Neuro-Diversity’, reducing misunderstanding and improving team performance.
Certified Neurocolor Consultant
Certified Neurocolor Consultant
Certified Neurocolor Consultant