Article written by Dan Perryman
One of the questions we get consistently from newly certified Birkman Professionals is about deciding which Component is the “right” one to talk about when a client mentions a specific issue. That is a REALLY tough question, because it is almost impossible to discretely pick out each behavioral Component in a person’s real life. The interaction of various combinations of Components is one of those things that you learn after many conversations with clients and hear their stories of how they “wear” their scoring pattern.
So, we have developed a simple model for first determining the primary impact of the mindset or behavior. When Roger Birkman created the instrument, it was based on observations of individuals, and comparing that with their scoring patterns in the questionnaire. This empirical approach to research allowed him to choose the questions that were significant in predicting how people got their work done. As we look at the nine Components that resulted from his research, they naturally flow into three types of interaction within the work environment.
The most obvious bucket is Interpersonal and it is focused on who. How a person interacts with the people around them is a critical factor to success in most workplaces. Social Energy and Assertiveness are the two Components that primarily deal with how a person builds relationships.
Social Energy addresses interaction and socialization with groups of people.
Assertiveness is a measure of how strongly we will press our point of view with others.
Look at the scoring patterns in these Components first if your client is presenting a teamwork issue, experiencing conflict with a coworker, or concerned with their ability to remain “visible” in the group.
The second bucket is Organizational. These Components are primarily about how we do our work or carry out the tasks required to be successful. Physical Energy, Insistence, Incentives, and Restlessness are measures that focus on our style in accomplishing a work product.
Physical Energy shows up in how strong a sense of urgency is when presented with a project or decision. It deals with how quickly we react, and how industrious we are in completing a task.
Insistence is a measure of how fixated we are on setting up a plan or process, and then carrying through that plan to get the job done.
Incentives focuses on how we want the reward systems around us structured – whether we value trust and collaboration, or the opportunity to reap rewards based on our accomplishments.
Restlessness indicates how distractible we are in our day or how focused we are on each task.
Certainly, each of these has a secondary effect on the people around us, but if the work environment is right, these will be minimized.
Personal is the third bucket, and these Components are centered around the internal processes of the person. The way they view themselves or process the world around them can certainly impact success and productivity. Self-Consciousness, Emotional Energy, and Thought are primarily about our internal viewpoint and more difficult for others to pick up on.
Self-Consciousness is really a measure of sensitivity, of how acute our feelings are to the words and actions of others. Do we feel empowered by an interaction or personally rejected?
Emotional Energy indicates how comfortable we are in sharing how we really feel about things. Do we allow concerns to show or do we remain impassive even while in turmoil internally?
Thought can best be described as our level of worry about the consequences for the choices we make in life. How much uncertainty is there when an important decision is facing us?
An interesting insight is that the three Personal Components all have lower Usual and Higher Need as a socialized pattern. Being sensitive, emotional, and worried are not socially desirable. But underneath that hardened, stoic, decisive exterior of your client may be the clues that help you solve issues in their life.
As a coach or consultant, filtering the Components in this way can help with root cause analysis. Your client may be expressing Stress in a very vocal way, so you would assume that the problem is in Assertiveness. But the real issue may be in Thought – they are worried about someone making a snap-judgement. If we help them “fix” the way they express their disagreement, but never acknowledge the true root cause of the issue, it will probably be a short-term solution.
Using these buckets can help you ask questions that will drive insight and understanding for your client.