(Summary of article in February 2010 issue of T&D Magazine.)
Over the course of the past century, the family-run company of Hallmark Cards has earned a reputation and cultivated a culture befitting its positive, uplifting products.? Underlying its core mission is a belief? in the best of human nature, including people’s ability to accomplish great things and find deep meaning in relationships.? This belief has always shaped Hallmark’s policies, which place people – both within and outside the organization – at the forefront.
The market, the workplace, and the competitive landscape have become more dynamic, global, and diverse, and the Internet, mobile technologies, and other innovations?have completely remade the communication landscape by connecting people in ways never thought possible.
Recognizing that such shifts affect a company that earns its revenue by communicating feelings, Hallmark’s top management made the objective of adapting the corporate culture to the realities of this decade its highest priority.? The company set a goal to change its overall mindset from one of a manufacturing organization focused on putting product on shelves to that of a consumer-centric company that fully engages its key audiences.
Hallmark decided to develop leaders that view situations from multiple perspectives and an agile management culture of accountability in which people work toward each others’ success and build their agendas to support the company’s goals.? The new vision includes leaders that inspire the hearts and minds of employees and instill confidence, and an organization capable of efficiently implementing the right ideas at the right time.
Hallmark’s HR manager for corporate development and senior HR specialist created a program called, Steppingstones, which is designed to open lines of communication within the organization by giving mid- and upper-level managers greater self-understanding and insight into how their actions and communications are perceived by others.? One of the central features is the use of an instrument designed to shed light on how personality shapes thought and behavior – the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment.
The assessment tool by CPP Inc., is based on Dr. Carl Jung’s personality type theory, which states that we each have an innate fundamental personality type that shapes and influences the way we understand the world, process information, and socialize.? The assessment helps individuals determine which one of the 16 personality types fits them best – a discovery process that can uncover an abundance of information, including factors directly related to work habits, interpersonal relationships, and other elements affecting workplace cohesion.? The 16 four-letter types are based on preferences for introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling and judging or perceiving.
The Steppingstones program takes participants through a series of activities designed to show them how they tend to interact and operate within a team.? The program uses?Myers-Briggs?personality type theory?to dig deeper into conversations and determine the real intent of the persons engaged.? Oftentimes, individuals tend to place people into files according to their perceptions of them, which are often skewed.? More often than not, the intent is actually positive, even if the delivery comes across as negative.? The?type theory?results shed light on how individuals may be perceived by others, helping participants understand how personality type affects communication style, and providing tools to improve co-worker interactions by expressing and discerning intent with more clarity.??An understanding of Myers-Briggs personality type gives managers the ability to check their perception against reality and avoid taking offense where none is intended.
By understanding personality differences and improving their ability to pick up on type-specific cues, managers can open the channels of communication and avoid potential landmines.? Additionally, they help people learn how to speak up and express themselves in ways that elicit positive responses, thereby creating an environment in which people feel comfortable expressing contrary opinions.? Managers – particularly those dealing with Introverted personalities – need to be aware that they may be shutting down discussion without actually hearing what their team thinks.
An understanding of personality type and awareness of the personality makeup of the organization has shaped the overall implementation of Hallmark’s change strategy, placing the emphasis on initiating a program that would approach it in the right way.?
The company is composed of predominantly STJs, who tend to resist change unless they truly understand why it is called for.? For an ISTJ or an ESTJ personality type, it is very important to help them see the logical progression that has led the company to the place where they currently are, and why the changes are necessary.? This philosophy has shaped Hallmark’s approach from the beginning.?
More than 1,000 managers have attended Steppingstones to date and the program and its emphasis on?Myers-Briggs?personality type?have yielded numerous positive results for Hallmark which have contributed to the company’s overall efficiency.? To begin with, decisions are being reached faster, and thoughts are delivered with increased clarity.? This is attributable in part to the communication insight gained through?Myers-Briggs?and the Steppingstones program, which helps managers avoid misunderstandings that often hamper decision making and flex their communication styles to their audience.?
Additionally, a major improvement in diversity of thought has been noticed, as people with different personality types become more comfortable speaking their mind and learn how to communicate in ways that appeal to people of other types.? Furthermore, as the company gains greater insight into how personality affects relationships, the ability of staff members to connect meaningfully has improved, positively affecting cohesion, motivation, and interpersonal communication.
The Myers-Briggs?personality type training?has created a common language that fundamentally underlies all of the aforementioned changes.? All of these improvements are enabling Hallmark to work more cohesively toward a unified goal, and react to the dynamic, and sometimes hectic, realities of a global economy and revolutionized communication landscape.