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Professional Development | Al Qasimi Foundation | Personality Test

Complementary Colors at Work: Professional Development at The Al Qasimi Foundation

Al Qasimi Foundation
August 20, 2014

Much of the Ras Al Khaimah community is familiar with Al Qasimi Foundation’s bevy of capacity development initiatives—the Teacher Exchange Program, the Student Enrichment Program, and the Ras Al Khaimah Prison Project, to name a few. What community members and stakeholders may not realize, however, is how much the Foundation also invests strategically in the development of its own team.

“The Al Qasimi Foundation couldn’t serve our emirate as effectively and enthusiastically as it does without a team of staff who are empowered through a range of professional development opportunities,” says Dr. Natasha Ridge, the Foundation’s Executive Director.

Recently, the Foundation has been exploring a particular professional development tool, known as Personality Dimensions or “colors analysis.” Essentially, colors analysis outlines four basic personality types and labels them each with a color. 

 

Blues are inherently relational, valuing interpersonal harmony and sensitivity. Golds tend to be organized, detail-oriented, and loyal. Greens are driven by ideas and knowledge and can be effective problem-solvers, while orange personalities capitalize on their intuition and willingness to take action.

The usefulness of personality analysis in organizational settings extends to both the level of the individual and of the team.

“Personality Dimensions helps people understand their own personality (temperament) and how to use that information to understand their talents, strengths, challenges, working style, relationship patterns, and more,” explains Ms. Anna Batchelder, Chief Education Officer and co-founder of Bon Education, a UAE-based learning and development firm that has collaborated with the Foundation various occasions.

Building on their initial Personality Dimensions assessments, Foundation employees held their first staff retreat this spring, facilitated by Bon Education.

Since that retreat, staff have continued to grow in their understanding of their professional roles and of their colleagues through colors analysis workshops that investigate the ways that members of each department relate to one another and to the Foundation as a whole.

Mr. Luke Zimmermann, Program Manager for Teaching and Learning, knows that his team is diverse in terms of culture and personality, and he believes managers can hone their leadership skills by understanding personality types.

“Taking your team’s colors into account helps managers highlight everyone’s strengths and manage the work strategically,” he explains.

Mr. Zimmerman is not alone in his appreciation for the new professional development tool.

“As the coordinator for the Sheikh Saqr Student programs,” reflects Ms. Rasha Moshen, “I have to analyze a large amount of data related to students from all over the emirate. Colors analysis has helped me realize that my strong green traits help me to enjoy this work, while my orange streak helps me to remain flexible and to take leadership initiatives through my position.”

Other staff members have noticed that the benefits of professional development are not limited to the professional sphere.

“While I was initially hesitant to believe the personality test,” says research associate Ms. Susan Kippels, “embracing it has made me much more perceptive about myself and other people. Understanding my colors (green/blue) has also increased my confidence.”

Perhaps one of the most significant contributions of Personality Dimensions is its impact on interpersonal relationships, which are a part of every organization and can be particularly challenging in multi-cultural contexts like those common in the UAE.

“Colors are independent of culture,” Ms. Batchelder explains, noting that while “the process for understanding how other cultures work is typically gained over time, through cross-cultural work and life experiences,” understanding personality traits allows people to become more perceptive and responsive in relationships almost immediately.

The Al Qasimi Foundation has roughly 25 members of staff representing more than 10 nationalities, and colors analysis has given these professionals fresh perspectives on how to collaborate effectively with individuals from various cultural contexts.

Rather than considering colleagues in terms of their Arab or Asian or Western backgrounds, staff members have gained confidence by thinking in terms of colors.

For example, although two employees might be of the same nationality, interacting with each of them makes more sense when a person considers their temperaments and recognizes that the first colleague is an inquisitive green personality and a perfect addition to the research team while the second has a gold temperament that lends itself to the organizational tasks associated with overseeing the Foundation’s publications.

From a broader organizational perspective, Ms. Batchelder observes that professional development that includes personality analysis fosters “a positive working culture that builds off of everyone's strengths.”

“The variety of colors represented at the Foundation indicates the breadth and depth of our competencies,” says Dr. Ridge, “and we are leveraging these abilities through professional development initiatives like the colors analysis because, ultimately, these strengths help fuel our capacity and community development programs that are central to our mission.”