Culture: Creating the perfect blend

Culture: Creating the perfect blend

Are you blue, green, red or yellow?

At some point, you have probably taken part in a colour personality test. If you haven’t, I highly recommend it. In psychological terms, they suggest that all people are either blue, red, green or yellow in personality; each of the colours reflecting a different mix of personality traits, strengths and weaknesses.  

Why should you take the test?

In management terms, these tests allow business leaders to leverage the information to build the ‘perfect’ workforce. Being equipped with this information can also be invaluable in identifying your own strengths, weaknesses and the roles that are best suited to you. Here’s a brief summary of the colours:

High Greens are serious, analytical, systematic and do research, make comparisons, and then take action.

High Reds are goal-oriented go-getters who are most comfortable when they are taking charge of people and situations. They focus on a no-nonsense approach to bottom-line results.

High Yellows are outgoing and fast-paced, friendly and enthusiastic idea people who excel in getting others excited about their vision.

High Blues are warm, supportive and nurturing individuals who develop strong networks of people and are excellent team players, friendly and persistent workers. You can take the test here.

From colours to whiskey

Recently I attended whiskey tasting event ‘The Blend’, which was hosted by Chivas Regal. This one-hour masterclass into the heritage and history of premium whiskey was top and tailed with a cocktail and the creation of our own blend.

The blending itself was very scientific. We had bottles of 5 different style-single malts: smokey, citrus, creamy, floral and fruity – and had to work out what percentage of each should go into producing our blend. It was all about balance. Too much of the smoky whiskey and it would be too overpowering, too little and it would lack character. As a lifelong learner, this chance to pair whiskey indulgence with a lesson about my favourite beverage made for a perfect evening.  

For full disclaimer, me and my friend stayed behind for more ‘sampling’ and invited the speaker – Scott, who later serenaded us with some Stone Roses – and the event staff, to blind-taste our creations and he won a resounding victory of 3-1. Not that I am bitter about it…

Once my brain had woken up after the whiskey overindulgence, I started to reflect on why my mixture had failed. I noticed that despite how similar our ratios of ingredients were, the differences in taste and smell of each blend were surprisingly significant. So how can such similar blends make for such different results?

Whiskey to Culture

Fast forward a few days and I said to a friend that I believed we ‘have the balance people at Tunafish we have ever had, along with a great office culture.’

Why?

Just like the whiskey,  it came down to having the right blend. A good mix of personalities and a varied blend of skills and interests.

For me personally, it’s the people in a business/agency that make the culture what it is. You can put every second of your day into creating a consistent culture; without the right people, however, it will fall down around you. Or leave you with a sour taste in your mouth. The margins of success in getting the right people are small but each ingredient will affect the cultural mix.

Unfortunately, unlike blending a whiskey, there is no scientific formula or secret recipe you can follow when developing a team. All you can do is find the right balance between your objective and subjective views during recruitment and selection. Make it too much about CVs and experience and you’ll miss out on untapped potential and ambition, (which I believe always wins over experience.) Make your views too subjective and your emotions could blindside you.

Creating the Perfect Culture Blend

In 1-1s with one of our Marketing team, they commented that although it’s important for everyone to get on together, in a marketing agency you also need a mixture of personalities with different interests. This mix is vital as it allows you to be creative across a range of different sectors. Just like a blend of whiskey, 100% of creamy single malt would be too plain but 100% of smoky would be too overpowering. An office full of yellows would be a very creative environment but likely lack attention to detail. While an office full of greens would detailed and analytical, but without the creative driving force needed to think outside of the box.

Following a JCI event in which the speaker delivered a talk about colour personalities, we asked everyone in the office to take the test. The results were fascinating – but threw up no real surprises. Not only did we have a good balance of personalities but they also fit the roles that those people were in. Our creatives were yellow, our business developers were Red/Yellow and we had managers that were blue.

When you delve deeper into the characteristics of colour personalities you start to realise how important balance really is for culture and success. Imagine a business with nothing but yellows or a green being asked to go and deliver pitches to prospects? Just like that 100% smokey whiskey, the results would be far from satisfying or successful.

There are a lot of different factors to take into account when building a team; sometimes you’ll get it right and other times you’ll get it spectacularly wrong. You will have had employees in your company who it just didn’t work with, yet that person is probably flourishing in a different environment. They weren’t a ‘bad employee’ just a ‘bad fit’. The key is taking an objective look and utilising tools that are at your disposal such as colour tests, but also not being scared to go with your gut instinct and hire someone based on their ambition and winning personality.

Blending a team, just like blending whiskey takes precision and practice. But when you get it right, the results will speak for themselves.

 

 

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