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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Unlock your 'True Colors'

By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to the Toronto Sun

When Carrie Turcotte delivered a seminar at the recent annual conference of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario (HRPAO), she knew she'd be dealing with a very blue crowd.
True Colors facilitator

It's not that HR professionals are a bunch of sad sacks -- it's where they fall on the spectrum in the True Colors personality test. And it's no coincidence that blues are attracted to the HR profession, Turcotte says, since they tend to be natural mediators.

"Blues are harmonious, outgoing, spiritual, and don't like chaos. They are very feelings-oriented," says Turcotte, president of event management and marketing company C.A.T. Consulting and a licensed True Colors facilitator.

The True Colors ( system has been around for 26 years and has been used by thousands of individuals and many small and large organizations wanting to better understand themselves, their friends, families, colleagues and employees.

Turcotte's goal at the HRPAO conference ( was to help HR professionals understand the characteristics and working styles associated with each colour so they can improve their hiring and conflict resolution efforts. But ultimately, she says, the information is equally useful to employees and managers as well.

A total of four colours and their corresponding personality traits make up the True Colors system:

Gold: values duty and responsibility; always prepared; detail-oriented; punctual; conservative; believes in policies, and prefers a formal environment.

Orange: values freedom and action; playful; charming; creative; energetic; impulsive; informal; pushes the envelope; competitive; quick-witted and a master negotiator.

Green: values information and knowledge; philosophical; perfectionist; independent; abstract; logical; complex; a visionary, and is hungry for knowledge.

Blue: values relationships and a sense of harmony; is optimistic; a caretaker; passionate; peacemaker; spiritual; co-operative; sensitive to others' needs; romantic.

Strengths and weaknesses

"The information helps managers understand their employees' strengths and weaknesses," Turcotte says. "For example, oranges can solve a chaotic problem immediately; golds are responsible, and would make great accountants because they would have every penny accounted for; blues are great mediators, and greens are good at tackling logistical problems."

Managers can then draw on this information when making special requests of employees, Turcotte says.
  • lack of recognition
  • lack of independence
  • not being in charge
  • incompetence
  • emotional displays
  • small talk

  • disorganization
  • irresponsibility
  • lack of direction
  • non-conformity
  • emphasis on multitasking
  • waste

  • too much responsibility
  • a formal work environment
  • inactivity
  • deadlines
  • lack of fun and variety
  • abstract concepts

  • broken promises
  • too much negativity
  • lack of social contact
  • too much conformity
  • insincerity
  • emphasis on completing paperwork

  • If you want an employee to work late, an orange would be willing to do it if you took her out for a two-hour lunch, which would be a tangible reward. A gold is very studious -- he would rather stay at his desk and work on things by a check list."

    The same goes for rewarding employees -- your employees' personality colours can guide you.

    "If you buy a gift for a blue, don't buy a gift certificate -- they would be offended and think you didn't put any thought into it," Turcotte says. "A green, however, would love it, because they'd want to do the research on their purchase."

    Need to plan a large project? Achieve balance by ensuring all the personality colours are represented on the committee, and then assign tasks based on people's attributes.

    "Greens are big idea people and like to be in charge, so they can manage complex projects," she says. "But the person taking the minutes at your meeting should be a gold, because he will organize them well and send them out to people immediately."

    The more you understand about your own personality colour, the more you can do to "brighten" dim colours and even out your personality, which is crucial, Turcotte says, to being successful.

    "Powerful people are equally represented on the colour spectrum. They understand the different attributes and can work well with everybody."

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