Resolve Conflict with the Power of Birkman

SUMMARY

Since 2005, Miramont Country Club has upheld standards of excellence in providing a family-friendly and upscale community for Bryan and College Station residents. As one of the finest private country clubs in Texas, Miramont was awarded ninth place by Golf Digest for the 2017-2018 Best in State Award and boasts an eighteen-hole championship course, plus four additional holes for practice and family play.

 

As an established and complex organization with a variety of services, Miramont depends on successful interrelationships between its eight different departments, all headed by the General Manager, Aaron Dawson. With each department comprised of anywhere from five to sixty employees, Dawson found challenges in bridging the diverse teams. This led to communication issues that brought significant conflict.

The challenging dynamic between Aaron and Jon, one of Miramont's most valuable employees, left Jon questioning if he was a good fit for the organization. Miramont turned to Birkman to foster greater understanding among employees, mitigate conflict, and help two essential leaders work together to maintain Miramont as a thriving club for its patrons. Miramont uses Birkman for conflict resolution, team building, personal and interpersonal growth, and career development.

Over the past few years, Birkman helped Miramont establish a greater understanding of different communication styles, expectations, and work preferences throughout the organization by providing a way for team members to identify their unique personalities and increase their social and emotional intelligence. The tool also enabled team members to discuss what they need from their environment and those around them to be successful, resulting in a healthier workplace with increased levels of cooperation and morale.  

collage_W

 

OVERCOMING THE CHALLENGES OF OPPOSING COMMUNICATION STYLES TO DRIVE UNDERSTANDING, RESPECT, AND PRODUCTIVITY

Jon, one of Miramont’s most tenured employees, was about to quit. Aaron, his manager was unaware that he was about to lose a key manager. Coming from opposite ends of the personality spectrum, there was a seemingly irreconcilable collision in work and in communication styles. Jon was frustrated with Aaron’s direct style of quick communication. Aaron adds, “What I thought needed to be a five-minute conversation dragged out to be an hour conversation.”

 

When describing how Birkman transformed their working relationship, Aaron loves to recall the memorable story of the tree in the nineteenth hole—one day, as Aaron was making his typical rounds of the club grounds, he noticed a dying tree. Aaron’s natural direct response to the situation would have been to take a picture of the tree and send it to Jon with the words, “Please replace.” From his past experience and knowledge of Jon’s Birkman scores, he knew that this delivery would offend Jon. Instead, Aaron tailored his style of communication and wrote, “I know there is no light at the nineteenth hole. I’m not frustrated or mad in any shape, way, or form, but if you get a chance, please replace it.”

 

Learn how you can harness the power of Birkman in your organization for leadership development, team building and more. 
Harness the Power of Birkman

 

 

After comparing their Birkman reports, Aaron (a “Birkman Red”) and Jon (a “Birkman Blue”) came to have a better understanding of each other. Birkman uses color to describe different personality types in a concise and memorable way. People who have the personality characteristics of a “Birkman Red” are usually decisive, straightforward, and prefer others to be direct in their communication. On the other hand, those with “Birkman Blue” characteristics typically prefer time to reflect and opportunities to express their feelings with those around them. With this difference in communication styles and preferences, each manager learned to meet the needs and preferences of the other. Over time, they struck a balance in communication, reduced conflict, and were able to work efficiently together.
The result—the tree was replaced. What typically would have been a half-hour conversation after the fact was reduced to an effective interchange that met the needs of both people.

Reflecting on the situation, Aaron notes, “I adapted my style and approach without thinking about it. That’s pretty profound. I took a situation and did something different with it because I realized, subconsciously, that the person I was communicating with needed something different from my usual style. It dynamically changed our relationship." Taking it a step further, Aaron emphasized, “Think about this on a bigger scale—Jon has 60 employees that report to him. If he and I aren’t aligned, it would 
have a dramatic impact on his team."


Aaron_web Jon_web
Aaron Dawson, General Manager Jon Snider, Director of Golf Course and Grounds Maintenance

 

Several months after going through the Birkman reports, Jon told Aaron, “Mr. Dawson, once you 'Birkmaned' me, you lightened up on me.” In his typical Red fashion, Aaron replied, “The heck I did!” However, it was true. Aaron had subconsciously altered his behavior around Jon in a way that was beneficial to them both, creating a healthier working relationship. After utilizing the Birkman, they saw each other in a different light and developed a more positive and productive relationship. In reference to having Jon take the Birkman, Aaron believes, “I’m not sure he would still be on our team had we not unpacked this and used it. He would have been frustrated with me and I with him, but Birkman helped me keep a valuable key employee."

 


"I'm not sure he would still be on our team had we not unpacked this and used it. He would have been frustrated with me and I with him, but Birkman helped me keep a valuable key employee."


 12

IMPLEMENTING BIRKMAN INTO AN ORGANIZATION

Aaron Dawson first came to know about Birkman through his supervisor who had used it for career development with her children. While facing several challenges throughout the organization, Miramont members that ran a business recommended Birkman for conflict resolution and team alignment. At first, Aaron had doubts about using the tool. After all, he had over fifteen years of leadership experience under his belt, and thought he knew how to read people. However, Aaron was deeply impacted by the assessment’s powerful insights and data after walking through his personal Birkman report. He immediately began implementing the tool across the organization and witnessed the powerful change. Upon further reflection, Aaron says if he could do it all over, he would begin the process by being more transparent with his own scores to reduce employee anxiety about the assessment. 

Aaron gave an assessment to everyone in a leadership position. At first, his team members were wary of the assessment. They were fearful of the unknown and how Birkman might affect the workplace—Miramont’s superintendent even called it a “psycho test.” However, the power and accuracy of the tool soon proved itself within the organization, and its use throughout the club continued to grow.

Aaron expanded the use of Birkman to incorporate group reports—making an even greater impact within the organization. This allowed individuals to understand how they fit in with the rest of the team, and how they needed to approach their peers to keep things running smoothly. A new, heightened self-awareness cascaded down all levels of the organization as Aaron guided each manager on how to utilize Birkman to engage with direct reports.

Grounds_2

 

BIRKMAN USE CASES THROUGHOUT MIRAMONT

After experiencing the effects of Birkman throughout the organization, Aaron sought to expand his knowledge of the tool by attending the Birkman Perspectives course, a training that dives deep into leadership and coaching to help respondents understand the impact of their perspective on themselves and others. The Director of Golf at Miramont, Rob Yee, made the comment that as a General Manager, Aaron was not only professionally growing his employees, but was also personally investing in and transforming the skill sets and trajectory of each team member. Rob expressed that outsiders might see Aaron having each employee take the assessment as a burden or work obligation. However, Rob views Birkman as a gift, noting that the time and effort Aaron spends with each employee during a Birkman conversation is impactful, both on a personal and interpersonal level.

In conjunction with Rob, Aaron found another way to utilize this tool in a different facet of the organization—tenured college students that had long contributed to different departments of the country club but would soon depart Miramont to launch their careers elsewhere. Even though these students were pursuing college degrees, many were still trying to figure out what to do with their careers.

As advocates of the validating and enlightening nature of Birkman, Aaron and Rob pushed to have the club gift these college students with personal Birkman feedback sessions, giving them clarity and affirmation as they worked to develop their careers

In addition to the new application of Birkman with college students, Aaron intends to grow the use of Birkman with Miramont’s teams and leadership to break down more barriers in communication. 

 17


Using Birkman to bridge the gap in personality styles drives powerful understanding, boosts synergy, and increases productivity throughout the organization.


 

For the past several years, Dawson has used the Signature report and Group reports to bridge the gap between leadership and teams, focusing on different communication and personality styles. Aaron claims that Birkman is “One of the best professional decisions I’ve ever made,” and attributes the power of Birkman to the concept of Needs (or expectations)—what an individual must have from their environment to be successful. Needs are especially important to understand as they are crucial for one to be productive and perform at their best. Since Birkman Needs are often unseen and hidden from others, it makes it difficult to identify and implement this understanding without explicitly talking about them. Aaron states, “Do unto others what you would have them do unto you only works thirty percent of the time. Seventy percent of the time, who we are outwardly is different from what we expect from others."

Taylor Chan

Taylor hails from Boston, Massachusetts, with a deep passion for design and innovation. With over ten international creative publications, she brings a trained, artistic eye to Birkman’s marketing department. When she isn't consuming 17th century European works, you can find her dancing, running, or serving her church on the weekends.

Comment on this Post