Adrienne McDunn understands difficult people. Especially those in the workplace.
It was a skill established early in McDunn’s career, enabling her to really listen and build connections among coworkers. That intangible ability caught the eye of management, and they assigned her to a project with several “difficult” personalities. Where everyone else saw a tangle of conflict, Adrienne saw opportunity, successfully bringing the people and the project together.
Those interactions laid the groundwork for her role as President and CEO of Personalysis, a science-based tool that assesses an individual by identifying three specific personality parts. The three-in-one assessment defines how a person thinks, makes decisions, processes information and expresses themselves. It also illuminates their preferred communication style and what a person considers meaningful work.
The Houston-based company is a tool in the kit of Fortune 500 organizations and small and medium-sized businesses across a variety of industries. It’s a resource used by The Alexander Group as part of the onboarding process to understand each member of the team better.
“You see someone with brand new eyes,” McDunn said. “You learn to respect their strengths and play to them. It’s a benefit to the team.”
Ideally, Personalysis is used during the onboarding process, although it’s beneficial for businesses at any point of progress. As companies continue to coalesce post-Covid, Personalysis assessments are helpful for in-person interactions.
“So many teams have been isolated and there’s collapsed relational communication. Methods of communication are more direct, people are more likely to send an email, when some situations benefit from a discussion,” McDunn said.
The Personalysis assessment involves a selection of questions and one of two choices for each question. There are no wrong answers, but assessment takers have one extreme answer or the other when making selections. That’s intentional, McDunn said.
“We were deliberate on the creation, as it gives us a true read of an individual. We are trying to distinguish characteristics; it reads the way we can see how you operate in the world.”
Around The Alexander Group office, it’s not uncommon to hear phrases such as, “That’s your red coming through” or “That’s how a blue would approach that situation,” because test results are signified by red, yellow, blue and green. The Red Perspective is the expeditor, Yellow is the collaborator, Blue is the explorer and Green is the organizer.
Reds like to blast through their to-do list, focusing on simplicity and speed. They are often described as intense and laser-focused. Red leans toward the questions “What” and “When” skipping the small talk and heading directly to the point.
Yellows focus on relationships and inclusion, gathering others' opinions and discussing solution options. A Yellow’s communication style is upbeat and inviting and in meetings, they focus on the positive. Yellow personalities love working with the team on a variety of tasks, helping others along the way.
Blues are visionaries. Their minds are always busy and the wheels are spinning due to their curious and innovative nature, but rest assured, blues are constantly contemplating scenarios and solutions. Blues rely on context and purpose, and their communication style is inquisitive clarifying and informative.
Green’s comfort zone is rooted in stability. They are logical, linear and logistical, thriving in process-orientated situations. Green relies on verifiable data to make decisions and are the point people for all things organizational. Need to bring order to chaos? That’s a job for Green.
Understanding the personality strengths and differences of a team is beneficial in multiple ways. By focusing on relationships, the result is a more collegial and productive environment, allowing for coordinated action. Another by-product of building a strong team?
“It says you’ve got my back,” McDunn said.
McDunn travels extensively, working with teams of all sizes, but she’s also spending time with senior executives and board members for in-depth coaching sessions. The sessions help the C-suite understand their personalities, which in turn, leads to a more productive work environment.
McDunn believes the power of Personalysis lies not in the color, but in the intention each color represents.
"If you become more self-aware, you ask, how do I work better? The tool identifies behaviors and motivation to do that."
Working better. Communicating effectively. Building trust. These are the building blocks for success in and out of the workplace.