Colourful characters

The people at KAE
Marketing Intelligence thought they were pretty good at communicating. But as
partner and marketing director Simon Dannatt reports, they found there was
ample room for improvement

KAE Marketing
Intelligence is a boutique marketing consultancy that provides strategic
marketing advice to a large range of clients including American Express,
Vodafone, British Telecom, Unilever and Charles Schwab.

Our 35-person team
is incredibly diverse – an eclectic mix of strong willed and independent people
from a wide range of very different backgrounds. Managing this group, as
someone who has seen us working put it, is like herding cats.

The biggest common
divide within the team is between the creative types and those of a more
analytical nature – the word explosive springs to mind. Interestingly, our
commercial success depends on these two groups working together in perfect
harmony, or as close as we can get to it.

We have tried a
wide range of team building and communications training exercises, events and
courses in an attempt to get the company to function as a lean and mean
consulting machine with, I have to say, imperfect results.

Putting Insights
Training & Development’s Charles Grimes into the KAE lions’ den might have
seemed foolhardy. Charles is a soft-spoken, mild mannered human resources
professional – or at least that is the way he came across the first time I met
him.

It was with some trepidation
I introduced him to KAE at our annual team building event. But Charles is the
Clark Kent of the team building world – he was energetic, dynamic and fully in
control at all times.

We started by
working on understanding the impact of personal perception focusing on how our
view of everyday events, people and even world events is coloured by our
internal beliefs. With personal examples and interactive exercises Charles
demonstrated how each of our personal heroes could be someone else’s villain, how
our best approach to a challenge can become a waste of time and how what makes
something right for us can be completely wrong for others.

We moved on to the
simple colour classifications Insights uses to describe the personal
personality or style preferences we all have – fiery red for the competitive,
demanding and strong willed behaviour of some of us, sunshine yellow for the
sociable, dynamic, demonstrative and expressive, earth green for the caring,
encouraging relaxed and amiable, cool blue for the cautious precise,
questioning and analytical.

These colours and
preferences were used to provide each of us with a better understanding of
ourselves and how we tended to behave, particularly when under pressure. While
we can all exhibit all of the traits, it quickly became very obvious why people
who tend towards blue think yellow people are shallow and talk too much and why
green people think reds are arrogant and aggressive. Most important of all,
through the use of a range of extremely funny examples, Charles made people
realise that none of these particular traits is better or worse than any other.

Based on our
responses to a questionnaire sent out ahead of the event, we were each provided
with a personal insights report. These, to the great surprise of the more
cynical in our team, provided a frighteningly accurate description of our
personal styles and the differences with those around us.

The key to
Insights is understanding yourself before you move on to understanding others.
So we spent some time reviewing our personal reports which were exceptionally
well laid out, easy to follow and remarkably insightful. Only once we had a
full understanding of how the reports worked and should be used did we move on
to working on how our personal style impacts on others.

For me, the most
valuable part of the whole session was the work we then did on how to adapt our
own styles to better connect with others in the team. Watching the light of
understanding come on for some of our number who normally grate horribly with
each other was incredibly rewarding personally and a credit to Charles’s
performance.

The final part of
the session involved identifying areas that we could each work on to develop
our effectiveness at communicating. To facilitate this, Insights provided us
all with a work book that contains further tools for development of the team.

The session was a
success not just because of the quality and usefulness of the material, but
also because of the involvement Charles managed to achieve with the team.
People listened, made notes, gave feedback and comments, questioned what they
did not understand and participated wholeheartedly. On top of all of this, we
had a great deal of open, easy and delightful fun.

To prove we can
all adopt the energies and preferences of others and be more effective in our
communication, Charles Grimes took off his Clark Kent clothing and delivered
the Insights training in the form of Superman. It was a brilliant demonstration
of what we can all achieve if we practise what he taught.

Verdict

Charles Grimes is
Superman

Charles’s
challenge was to compress a course that normally takes two days and apply it to
an articulate, creative, intelligent and somewhat outspoken group in slightly
less than half a day. He rose to this challenge with apparent ease, expertly
managing a high-intensity session that has made a permanent, positive change to
our team effectiveness.

Communication is
extremely important to us as a company. We thought we were reasonably good at
it, particularly with one another. What we learned on the course opened our
eyes to our weaknesses. Thankfully, we also learned how to adapt and improve,
which we have been striving to do ever since.

The tools Insights
provides are exceptionally useful in any environment where you have to perform
as a team.

Learning to
Communicate

Devised &
Delivered by Insights Training & Development, 29/31 South Tay Street,
Dundee DD1 1NP, Tel: 01382 229292 or
 0208-464 3022   www.insightsworld.com

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