Effective Team-Building: 3 Reasons Companies Are Embracing The Birkman Method®
By Jennifer Comella, Learning & Organizational Development Manager, Birkman Certified Professional
We are all unique, with different preferences, experiences, interests, hobbies and backgrounds. Our unique personalities, shaped by these identifiers, influence how we communicate with others, how we want to be treated and how we prefer to work. Creating a common language to describe our personalities is key to workplace communication, and, thus, key to workplace culture.
The Birkman Method® was invented by Dr. Roger Birkman, a WWII fighter pilot with a degree in psychology. His pioneering approach to organizational dynamics in the 1950s has since become a global standard that has been translated into more than 40 languages and used by over 8,000 companies world-wide. Today, Birkman International in Houston, TX, now chaired by Dr. Birkman’s daughter Sharon, helps companies and their employees gain deep insights into the strengths, perceptions, needs and stress behaviors that drive business success.
In 2015, Skoda Minotti, now part of Marcum LLP, introduced The Birkman Method® to help a recent merger run smoothly, standardize the onboarding experience and support better team collaboration on accounting engagements. The Firm immediately saw positive results tied to retention, higher ratings in its new hire program and improved productivity on engagement teams. These higher ratings and lower turnover rates are due to better self and others’ awareness through training on the results of the assessment.
Since then, our Firm has continued to use The Birkman Method® assessment, incorporating it into all professional development curricula. In 2017, we began offering Birkman training to some of our clients as well. Now, our team of Birkman Certified Professionals is working to incorporate Birkman into the culture at Marcum LLP. Providing staff with a common language to discover and discuss their own naturally productive behavior, stress behavior, and expectations of others’ behavior can produce similar results for virtually any organization.
What the Birkman Method Can Tell You
1. Personal Interaction
The Birkman Method® reveals how we expect to be treated by other people. Birkman refers to this as our “needs.” These needs include both the work environment in which we are most productive and the way we want other people to treat us.
Other assessments focus on our natural behavior style, largely based on characteristics derived from the big five personality traits (conscientiousness, agreeableness, extraversion, openness, neuroticism), but not very many can tell us how we want other people to act toward us.
For example: I might generally be someone classified as a “doer.” I am recognized for pushing initiatives forward or producing a finished product. I’m usually friendly, energetic, and casual. However, that might not indicate the types of people I need around me in order to be at my best or how I want others to treat me. I might be the kind of person who needs instructions or explanations, or I might prefer time by myself to analyze, concentrate, or research on my own. And I might want my leader, peers, or associates who report to me to be more reserved and suggestive, rather than assertive and direct. You would not likely discover these needs without completing The Birkman Method® assessment.
2. Personal Interests and Behaviors
The Birkman Method® captures our interests in addition to giving us insights into how we behave. It asks us questions about what we enjoy doing and what we do not enjoy doing, and then marries those responses with the U.S. Department of Labor Job Families and Career Categories. This gives us a snapshot of the industries we might best fit into, in addition to the kind of work environment we need in order to thrive. This essentially gives us a career roadmap, and an awareness of the types of tasks that we might enjoy doing.
For example: I might have chosen a career in public accounting because I felt there was a sense of job security, a strong career path, or even a big financial incentive for me. After spending a few years moving up the ladder, I took the Birkman Method® assessment and found out that I have a high social service score, which closely aligns with teaching, counseling, and advocating for others. Based on this information, I might, for example, choose to be an adjunct professor at a local college, teaching accounting courses and helping undergrad students choose a career path. The more you are aligned with your strengths and interests, the more fulfilled you will be in life. Birkman helps by providing this type information.
3. The Benefits of a Common Language
The Birkman Method® provides more than 45 different reports, combining scores in categories such as sales effectiveness, leadership style, and conflict style, among others. That connects back to the most common reason companies are choosing to implement personality assessments: We can be more open about why we behave the way we do if we are all operating from the same common language. This ultimately better informs our collaboration with each other in order to avoid hurt feelings or conflict.
For example: Say my boss made a decision, and I believe she “jumped the shark” because I have more information than I believe she had when she made the decision. Even if the additional information wouldn’t cause her to change her mind, I believe she should not have made the decision without doing additional research or seeking other opinions. This situation would be frustrating to me if I had no common language to use in discussing it with her. My boss might dismiss me, feel frustrated, or be less sympathetic than I hoped. With the insight provided by Birkman, we would both be equipped for a conversation based on a common vocabulary and mutual understanding of our respective workstyle triggers, enabling more collaborative conversations, healthy resolution of conflict and appreciate for the naturally productive behavior of others.
As companies continue to emerge, grow and diversify, creating a common language that allows everyone to share their unique personality styles and preferences is paramount. Join our upcoming informational webinars, Leading and Managing Others: The Birkman Method® – Advanced Series, or Creating a Self-Aware Workplace, to learn more about The Birkman Method®.