What’s Your Workplace MO?

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Perspectives from another Color Code Trainer

January 27, 2020

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Megan:                            00:00                  Welcome everybody. This is What's your MO in healthcare? Today I have a special guest, Carrie Coen who is a fellow certified color-code trainer who I have worked with teaching Color Code probably for a few years in our roles at the hospital. I'm happy to have her here because I want to talk a little bit about your experience with Color Code. I want to understand what color you are but let's just start with a welcome. Thanks Carrie.

Carrie:                              00:41                  Well, thank you Megan. It's really fun to be here. You know, I've taken a hiatus from teaching Color Code, but I really enjoyed doing it over the last several years. I happen to be 46% Red and 36% Blue, 16% Yellow and 0% White.

Carrie:                              00:59                  So I'm kind of a mixture. I would say my Red comes out when I'm stressed or you know, if something's really intense. My Blue comes out maybe more at home or in a more relaxed environment.

Megan:                            01:11                  Interesting. So tell me why Color Code appealed to you and why you decided to become a Color Code trainer.

Carrie:                              01:18                  Well, at the hospital that we work at, there was a trainer who had retired. So that opportunity came up, but I thought this is great. I want to learn how to do something new. And of course you talked to me into it didn't take too much to twist my arm. It was a really good opportunity to be able to get another tool in my tool belt for leadership and just self-development.

Megan:                            01:44                  Absolutely. We talk a lot about how Color Code is a tool.

Megan:                            01:48                  It's not intended to be a stereotype or to be an excuse, but rather a way to understand yourself. And then by virtue of that, you're going to understand other people that you work with. So what does that look like for you at the hospital? You're a director of a very large rehab center with what, a staff of how many?

Carrie:                              02:12                  I think we have 56, 57 employees in our department.

Megan:                            02:16                  Wow. And have some of them gone through Color Code?

Carrie:                              02:21                  You know, I think everyone has gone through Color Code just through new employee orientation. The employees that had been there for a while have been through, training that you've done and some of the other staff at the hospital have done. So everyone in our department is really well versed in it. They understand it and they use it appropriately.

Carrie:                              02:43                  I can say that for myself, being predominantly Red, it has been a challenge to kind of tone my intensity down and be able to connect with people. But the advantage of having Red personality at work is that it's easy to see things rationally. That doesn't always work when you're working with people who are really emotional. But having 36% Blue, I can kind of tone that down a little and begin to kind of relate and be empathetic to the people who are dealing with more emotion. But I think it's easy for me to take a step back out of the emotion, look at things logically and rationally and be able to make the decisions that I need to do, even if we have to take some time for other people to kind of understand where they're coming from and come along.

Megan:                            03:37                  So that's a nice mix for you. You've been able to the Red allows you to be very planful to be, you know, what a director would, you would expect from a director and that leadership that comes so naturally to a Red but then you're able to pull from the Blue to relate to people who are maybe predominantly Blue or Yellow. What, can you generalize your staff. Would you say it's predominantly Blue?

Carrie:                              04:08                  I would say it's predominantly Blue. And I think in healthcare that's what you find. People want to go into healthcare because they really want to serve others. Not that anybody couldn't do that, but I would say that at least 60 to 70% of our staff are B and a few Reds and Yellows and Whites mixed in there. But it gives it a great dynamic. I certainly can tell you though that prior to doing Color Code, I think things were a lot harder for me because Red at work tends to be my tendency and I know that I put people off with that.

Carrie:                              04:43                  Sometimes they say I'm too intense and maybe not relating as well to what I need to and stomping on their feelings. And after doing Color Code training to become a trainer, it made a huge difference for me. And I'm really glad to have that self-awareness to be able to know when it's time for me to back off and be a little more emotionally intelligent.

Megan:                            05:05                  That's wonderful. That's really the gift of Color Code. How have you used your knowledge of people's driving core motives when dealing with your staff directly?

Carrie:                              05:18                  You know, I think it's really good to be able to look at that. Of course, teams naturally form with the activities that they do. For instance, if you have a group of physical therapists, they need to work on something. But if I have an opportunity to mix a team up and be able to work together towards an end for the entire department, it's nice to know their color and be able to put them together using their strengths and not looking at their limitations, but really looking at their strengths.

Carrie:                              05:45                  So if you had an entire team of Yellows, they might have a fantastic time all day long, but they may not get anything done at the end. So if you can mix it up or same thing with the Blues. If you have a bunch of Blues, they're going to have a wonderful time and they may try to kind of vie for the leadership position but not wanting to hurt anybody's feelings and then you may not get an end result. But mixing it up a little and having a nice complement of colors within the group in terms of their strengths and limitations but also their profession, you can usually get a better outcome.

Megan:                            06:23                  Absolutely. I love that. So I think we talked about the luxury of putting teams together, right? That's kind of the scenario you were talking about there and we don't always have that luxury.

Megan:                            06:37                  Sometimes you have a team by virtue of their profession or just who is there. I have found that that's helpful in that case to just understand their colors and what some of the dynamics would naturally come up based on their colors. So that helps me just kind of navigate and understand how to motivate those people. And if there are going to be some conflicts, you almost can anticipate some of them.

Carrie:                              07:07                  Oh, you're absolutely right, Megan. I think it is nice that everyone in our department's gone through Color Code, so they know that. I may just jokingly say, "Oh look, we've got these two Yellows on the team, you guys know you need to get something done at the end, right?" I mean in a nice way and in a kind way. And I think they do understand that. And just to be able to point it out, maybe even if a team is having some conflict and be able to say, look, you guys are all really good at these things.

Megan:                            07:36                  These are the things you may not be so good at. So how can you work together to get that done?

Carrie:                              07:41                  Then they appreciate it because it's not ever done in a punitive manner.

Megan:                            07:45                  Right. Just more of a self-awareness, a reminder. It kind of seems like it neutralizes things. It doesn't, it takes it out of a personal thing and just, Oh yeah, that's right. So that isn't necessarily my strength. What can I do to work with this person who does have that strength? Right.

Megan:                            08:02                  Yeah. Um, I'm curious as a, as a director manager who also works with patients, have you ever utilized color code when you're working with patients? You know, it's funny because I had never thought about that prior to taking color code and I think I was did a little bit, you're trying to peg someone's personality, but since becoming a color code trainer, I use it every single day.

Carrie:                              08:25                  So some examples of this would be, you know, if you're thinking about the four different colors in the four different types of people you have, the reaction for patients coming in the door might be one of these four things. You might have someone who is the Red personality who is maybe angry, a little belligerent, they don't want to fill out their paperwork, they don't know why this is taking so long. Then you've got the Blue person who is just clearly visibly upset. Their face might be red, they might be crying. You've got the White who's got arms crossed or not saying anything to you. They're kind of holding back and the Yellow who's just deflecting everything with a joke or some type of humor. So I always interpret those things now as they're all probably fearful, they don't know what's coming. They've been injured, they've been hurt.

Carrie:                              09:12                  But that's the way they're dealing with it. And so it's makes it really nice for me to be able to know how can I modulate that for them by responding in a way that they can understand. So maybe the person who's the angry person, you just deal with them. In fact telling them what's going to be happening. The Blue person might take a little pat on the knee, you know it's going to be okay with some encouragement. The White person, they want facts as well. They want to understand kind of where the course of action is going to be for them. You can alleviate some of their fear by letting them know what might be an outcome for them with their therapy. And then the Yellow, if you just add some humor in there, get them coming along because you really want to try to earn their trust.

Carrie:                              09:54                  And once you can do that, then you can do everything else. So it's funny, it usually within just minutes I can figure that out with somebody, which is fantastic and I don't feel like it's tricking anybody. I think it's just using what I know to be able to help people get to where they need to be.

Megan:                            10:10                  Absolutely. It's a tool. And I find that fascinating as a person who's not clinical, doesn't work with patients. How you have used that to help motivate them. And that's really what this is all about. You know, kind of what's their emo and how to relate to that very quickly to motivate them to get better. Right?

Carrie:                              10:32                  Sure. And you know, some people might look at that and say, well that's being false because you're, you're behaving in a way that's not consistent with yourself. I don't find that at all.

Carrie:                              10:41                  Because anytime we're in the healthcare industry, we have to find a way to relate to the people that we're working with and help them understand and what better way to do that than to kind of know what their core motivation might be. Even if they don't.

Megan:                            10:55                  And you're seeing them, you know, technically at their worst when they are under stress. And so you're seeing a lot of those limitations that are coming out right at the beginning because they don't know what to expect. And like you said, a lot of it's based on fear, so they're going to be acting out of those limitations. And so you have some knowledge of what those are and you can see them and then help direct them to more of the strengths.

Carrie:                              11:22                  Of course, because you know, the behavior does not equal the person and the behavior equals the motive behind whatever they're struggling with.

Carrie:                              11:31                  And it's a nice reminder for not only myself but the front office staff because they get the brunt of a lot of, maybe not so above board behaviors. People really give it to them and then they're much more kind when they come back to work with a therapist. And it just takes a reminder to them, "Hey, do you understand that this person might be acting out of fear or they don't have their to pay today. And so they're just being belligerent about it. And I think that really helps them as well. Just that little reminder.

Megan:                            11:59                  Great point. Yeah. So what else about color code have you used? In your personal life or just in general?

Carrie:                              12:07                  Oh my gosh. And my personal life, like no other, that's probably been the most impactful. Obviously I use it at work and I spend a lot of time at work, but what's more important is your family.

Carrie:                              12:18                  And I think understanding myself has made a big, big difference. And being able to explain it to my husband, my parents, my children, and then have them take Color Code as well because have done it with all of them. And you know, being, being this Red personality, living with someone who is very, very white personality is kind of a challenge. So we've been married 37 years, obviously we're figuring it out, but things have been much easier in the last probably six or seven since I've been doing Color Code.

Megan:                            12:49                  That's amazing. What a tool, right? The light bulb goes off and you just begin to understand each other a little bit better and accept each other.

Carrie:                              12:59                  Right. And joke about it to say, I am so intense, Chuck. Would you just talk to me about this and he'll look at me and say, "Okay, but would you just calm down a little?"

Carrie:                              13:09                  Yes, I'll calm down. I'm not going to be angry about this. He just smiles and nods and then I usually know. I'm really acting out of my limitations. I need to come back to what he relates to, which is more kindness and gentle behavior.

Megan:                            13:22                  That common language. That's awesome. Well, I have so enjoyed working with you and I hope we have opportunities in the future to co-teach Color Code. Because I enjoyed it when we were doing it.

Carrie:                              13:35                  Well, likewise Megan, and I'd be happy to step in any time. Thank you.

Megan:                            13:39                  Well thanks again for coming and with that this is What is your MO in healthcare?