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Human Resource Planning – Get People in the Right Seats

September 20, 2013

Keys to human resource planning – Everyone’s heard the business admonition to be sure to “get the right people on the bus”.  And if you haven’t, now you have.  It is key to have the right people in your organization, and have them placed where they can provide the most value.  But guess what, when it comes to figuring out how people think or what they are best suited for (so you know where they would fit in your organization), most of us sort of fumble around because we don’t have a very clear approach.  In fact most of us just rely upon gut hunches and perhaps worse, are sure “we know people”, when in fact it’s easy to over-rate people’s ability that we are comfortable with.

So what do you do, and pardon me if this sounds like it’s way too complex.  But before you click the back button… what if I could give you a simple proven system for figuring out people and subsequently where they should go on the bus?  I’ll make this as short and specific as possible, if you keep reading, DEAL?

So here we go.  First of all take a look at the image.  In fact click the image to expand for easier reading and you’ll see that there are four quadrants or operating styles.  Each quadrant represents a cognitive structure for what people pay attention to and how they typically operate.  This is a simple, but very solid method for predicting what people will do in any position at work, once you determine what color or quadrant they typically operate from.  Note, most of us operate a majority of the time from one preferred quadrant, and have a second preferred quadrant as a fall-back that is adjacent, not opposite, to our preferred style.

 Brim’s Quadrant

There’s really just a couple of key concepts to take-away and you can be way ahead of the pack.  Let me list them:

1. First of all, there are lots of dimensions to categorize people, everything from motivators, energy, attention to detail,  to values, and on and on.  This model really focuses on how people tend to think, what they focus on, and therefore what they do based upon what they think.  So frame this model as a simple “how your brain works and what it prefers to focus on” model. Partly it’s based on a proprietary way I score the Myers-Briggs type, partly on brain research, and partly on years I’ve spent consulting.  It’s an easy way to understand and predict what people will focus on, how they will go about it, and where they are likely to be successful.

2. Why focus on how people tend to think-act?  Because it’s one of the easiest ways I know to determine where people are going to fit best in the workplace bus.  And most people spend a predominant % of their time in one quadrant, and tend to report good fit with jobs when the job emphasizes tasks or deliverables that fit with their preferred quadrant.  By the way, this doesn’t mean anyone can’t learn to operate in all four quadrants, it’s just that everyone typically has a quadrant that they feel naturally fits them.  You’ll see it to  as you observe others.

3. The four quadrants represents opposites.
In short Greens focus on people, Blues tend to focus on things.
Browns tend to focus on compliance and consistency with the rules,  and
Reds focus on innovation or creatively thinking outside the box of rules.

In its simplest form, the Brim quadrant is based on 2 polarizing questions:
Do you prefer to work with people or things? And do you prefer structure or innovation?

4. There’s really 4 categories to remember, and most organizations to which I have introduced this model to simply refer to them by their color.  Here’s the four, and with each, think of placing them where the job fits their style, so it helps, not hurts the process:

Red; Innovators.  This group likes to create, gets bored with doing the same thing very long.  Best in positions where their creativity and interest in exploring, creating, and thinking outside of the box is a requirement to succeed.  Strong red types are very innovative, spontaneous, often charismatic and at times chaos producing as they move rapidly on to “next.”

Blue; Builders.  This group likes to attend to things and build systems to manage the detail.  They like opportunities to make things more efficient, to grow, and tend to think macro more than micro.  They naturally want to optimize processes and like creating plans and blueprints for others to follow.  Strong blue types are often people we think of as “nerdy, programmer types” or the remote executive.  Neither spends a lot of time building relationships with co-workers.

Brown; Maintainers.  This group focuses more on day-to-day details than the blue group, and attend to ensuring things are predictable and consistent. They operate with a “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke” perspective, and are happiest when placed in positions that are focused on getting things done on time, on budget and within quality requirements.

Green; Caretakers This group is highly tuned into ensuring people are within their comfort zone and enjoy work when it revolves around a) communicating with others and b) making people fit in and feel included.  This group can also be the most politically savvy of the 4 quadrants, as they attend to people more than any of the other 3 quadrants.

Ok, got that so far?  Let’s go over a hypothetical situation.  Let’s say you need to put a new lead or manager in for a team.  What color do you use?  Hint, it depends on the demands of the situation.

– If the deliverables are clear, the process established and working, and you primarily need someone who can make sure the “trains run on time”, then find a brown, but be prepared to have the struggle with change requests.
– If the team has turn-over, conflict and isn’t pulling together, put in a green, you need someone who will build cohesion and a sense of team, but be prepared to have the green person prefer to operate in meetings.
– If the challenges require innovation, rethinking past processes, and dramatically different results, think about putting in a red.  But be aware that they may need assistance in finishing started projects, as their interest can wane.
– And if you need someone to build in better efficiency and figure out a way to grow or extend the impact, think about using a blue. But be sensitive to how many people issues they will need to identify and/or address.

Bottom Line: One of the best ways to ensure you have the right people on the bus… in the right seats, is to use the Brim Quadrant as a convenient cheat sheet to understand what people focus and spend their time on.  In short Greens focus on people and ensuring people are taken care of, Blues tend to focus on figuring out things and systems.  Browns tend to focus on making sure things comply with the rules,  and Reds focus on thinking creatively, innovatively solving problems that can be outside the box of rules.  It’s an easy way to understand and predict what people will focus on when placed in a position… and where they are likely to be successful.

Contact me at PST@managepro.com  if you would like to have full Myers-Briggs assessments completed and scored in the manner that supports the Brim’s Quadrant for yourself or your team.

1 Comment. Leave new

Inward & Outward Facing 8020 (3of4) |
March 19, 2015 9:30 pm

[…] what their brain preference naturally orients them to do, e.g. what’s inherently satisfying. See my blog on brain preferences. And no, neither of the two options above or being organized or chaotic actually predicts that out […]


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