Q: What prompted you to initiate Insights Discovery training at Concurrency?
KW: We recognized a need to complement our extensive technical training programs with leadership and communications tools to help our consultants become well-rounded experts. It’s not enough to be technically proficient in our business. Rather, our consultants must be able to communicate across project teams and with clients—often on highly complex topics and under time pressures.
As a human resources professional, I’ve been through most of the communications programs out there. In contrast, many of our technology-focused employees have never even had communications topics on their radar screens. We recognized that we need to offer employees tools and not just expect them to know how to communicate effectively.
Our objective is to build and constantly improve a technology consultancy focused on solving business problems. That’s different from just executing on technical needs. It means interacting with both technical and business decision makers at clients. We wanted to implement a program that would bring communications awareness and enhanced capabilities to everyone—not just managers, but all employees including our youngest trainees.
In my view, a key feature of the Insights program is its embrace of empathy. That is, awareness and concern for the perspective of others. That’s not something that gets enough attention in the technology world. And it’s essential for organizational success.
Q: What was your first exposure to Insights?
KW: Prior to joining Concurrency, I was an independent recruiter. One of my clients was a company where Sara Daxer was delivering a series of Insights training programs. I saw first-hand what Insights is about—and loved it from the beginning, not least because there’s an element of fun to the program. That aspect is absolutely essential for us, because the program needs serve as a kind of reprieve from hard-core technical training and day-to-day work. I saw in those first exposures that participants could come away from an enjoyable, one-day session with enough recall of the material to make a difference in the company’s operations.
I also saw in those early observations that Sara is a fantastic facilitator. Finding the right person to deliver the material is essential. Sara knows the information deeply. But what’s more, she has an ability to guide people in just the right way. For example, sometimes certain participants don’t really agree with the information. Sara has a way of engaging with them by giving just the right amount and flavor of information such that by the end of the session light bulbs go off for those people. That’s phenomenal.
Q: What’s stood out to you about the Insights training as implemented at Concurrency specifically?
KW: Insights has given us perspective on ourselves and others. There’s a beauty in recognizing your own color preferences—for example, I’m high yellow, then green, the red, then blue—but what’s often even more powerful is learning to recognize others’ color preferences and engage appropriately. That’s empathy in action in a business setting. And it makes for more efficient meetings, more effective team leadership, and better client outcomes.
Q: In what ways have Insights concepts become incorporated into your business?
KW: Many of us have Insights color blocks on our desks. Insights color references make their way into conversation regularly.
We’ve also incorporated Insights color profiles into our employee recognition program as a way to celebrate success and reinforce Insights concepts on an ongoing basis. Employees nominate other employees for recognition using a form that follows the color preferences. For example, someone might write: “Thank you for your help on the project. Your work brought a ray of sunshine to a tough situation. I nominate you for a yellow block.” We then hand-deliver a treat and a yellow block along with a recognition form. Other examples: “Your attention to detail saved the day” (blue block award); “Your assertiveness kept us on track—thanks” (red block award); and “By your looking out for the rest of the team, your ‘green’ made a real difference to the outcome.”
With regard to the formal training sessions, we’ve now done about 10 sessions, all facilitated by Sara. We are establishing a quarterly schedule for all new hires who joined that quarter and also to include any other past participants who’d like a refresher.
Q: Any other comments about results of the training in your business and company culture?
KW: Just today I was meeting with an employee who was having a problem. He said, “I know I need to be turning my yellow up, but the job needs red and my team isn’t understanding that.” Earlier in the week I heard someone else saying he’d been “pulling out red lately.” These are fun references that reflect a real positive impact.
Through this awareness, we are supporting existing excellence in our corporate culture and building on it. That’s absolutely what I hoped for. Considering we’re a very technically oriented organization, I was initially a little concerned that employees would say or think “what’s the fluffy HR colors thing…”—but the reception has been fantastic. People are opening up their brains and learning about themselves and others.
Q: What do you see as next steps?
KW: I’d like to take our existing Insights program a step further and initiate color energies as part of our conversations with key strategic accounts. By sharing these ideas with our customers, our consultants can be all the better equipped to handle more personality types out in the field.