True Colors® establishes a common language we can all use to better understand ourselves and each other. For me, it is a tool that helps us become better teammates, colleagues and professionals – one we can use to better appreciate our work with the people around us in a variety of ways.
Managing up is one such strategy that True Colors® can enhance. Managing up means making a concerted, intentional effort to better understand your supervisor and use that knowledge to maximize the effectiveness of your working relationship. Thoughtful observation of their work style, values, expectations, etc. can help you make adjustments that build harmony with your supervisor and make your work more efficient.
Many of you will recall the brightening activity from your True Colors® session where you discussed strengths/joys/values/needs as well as stressors/frustrations within your brightest color. Knowing someone else’s spectrum provides insight into their behavior and motivations. Conducting a similar, informal appraisal of your supervisor can help you better anticipate their needs/expectations in the future.
Consider the following scenario. Your supervisor’s brightest color is green. This lets you know they value ideas, brainstorming and problem solving. Subsequently, you know that any idea or proposal you float needs to be backed up with facts and logic. Also know you’re going to be asked a lot of questions, which you should anticipate and prepare for in advance. Knowledge of your supervisor’s spectrum helps you better appreciate the reason for these questions. Where some might perceive it as dismissive or unsupportive, you recognize a brightened green’s need for logic, intellectual curiosity and their desire to refine/strengthen the idea.
Using True Colors® to manage up in this way allows you to better prepare, produce higher quality work and better appreciate your supervisor’s role. This skill can also help you strengthen your professional relationships, develop into a more intuitive professional and become an asset to any team. It may also improve your own professional experience. Spending every day in an environment where you are appreciated and valued is the difference between having a job and a having a career that brings you joy.
Dylan Smith, MS
Senior Student Affairs Administrator