A New Perspective
By Air Force Airman Hope Geiger, 180th Fighter Wing, 180th Fighter Wing
/ Published August 05, 2018
Swanton, Ohio -- All Airmen should participate in the Four Lenses Training course as it creates a better working environment for all.
Four Lenses is a two-hour team building exercise to teach Airmen concepts of knowing themselves and the different ways people learn, establish personal values and conceptualize.
“Four Lenses is temperament training,” said Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Howard, 180 Fighter Wing human resources advisor and four lenses course instructor. “It’s looking at different types of personality temperaments and how to understand them better.”
This system was adapted from the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, 160-item test that categorizes an individual into one of 16 types. Most individuals who have taken this test often do not remember the results, a four-letter code, and seldom remember what the code means, explained Howard.
To address this, Four Lenses took these 16 different types and condensed them into four color preferences: Gold, Green, Blue and Orange. Gold is for structure, security and order temperaments; Green for logical and analytical thought; Blue for feelings and emotional support; and Orange for competitive and action-oriented personalities.
It teaches individuals how to remember and incorporate type theory into their personal and professional lives. During the training individuals learn how to apply it to real-life situations and how to fully use this information.
“There are two things you are supposed to get out of it,” said Howard. “First, you learn more about yourself, like the things you are good at and what you need to work on, and the other part is learning about the other people you work with. It helps Airmen understand who they are working with and why they do the things they do.”
Each shop or section of the 180FW consists of a wide range of diverse people. This training provides a base of understanding for the different ways people learn, think, establish personal values and conceptualize. By working in groups and talking to your peers, it exposes attitudes, wants, needs, preferences, desires and the motivation behind behaviors. It opens channels of communication across ethnic, gender and other human barriers.
“The training helped Airmen understand each other better by seeing all the different perspectives and discussing our views,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Vossler, communications flight commander, who attended training.
Although not a mandatory training, Four Lenses has been implemented to help retain Airmen in the Air Force.
“Many people don’t quit a job, they quit a work area or environment, because they don’t feel like they belong or are liked,” Howard said. “For the most part people leave because they just are not happy with the people they work with, its relationships. The Air Force loses hundreds of thousands of dollars every year because people get out and we have to retrain new people for their job.”
The National Guard sponsors this training because it helps keep people. Airmen work with people of very diverse backgrounds and this training helps them understand, not only themselves better, but it helps them communicate with others, motivate other people, lead others and how to understand their needs.
“Ultimately, we need to respect and trust each other in a unit and being able acknowledge everyone’s personality helps us operate better as a more cohesive team and improves our readiness,” said Vossler.
The training provides several learning styles, or ways people process and organize information as they interact with their environment, explained Howard. Airmen with different temperaments learn in different ways.
This can be applied to working in different shops and how individuals interact with each other. For example, in a shop when a supervisor is conducting training for their Airmen, the Airmen whose styles match the supervisors would have no difficulty in communicating about the content. Although, when the supervisor’s style is different from the Airmen’s, miscommunication can happen.
By completing Four Lenses, the shop would better understand how everyone else thinks and the supervisor can adapt their training style to meet the variety of learning approaches. It may not be possible to match every learning technique for every different training purposes, but it is possible to address a variety of styles so each Airmen can understand it completely.
Everyone is unique, so this process is not limiting. People can be dominant in one color but also possess traits of another color. The limitless variety of human nature makes it impossible to define a person by any specific type. This workshop helps individuals identify strengths and the primary basis from which they see life and expands their perspective.
The goal for the 180FW is for each unit to participate in the Four Lenses training so each shop can learn to work as a better team. Effective teamwork is essential in meeting the demands of the U.S. Air Forces dynamic and complex environment. Four Lenses allows Airmen to increase individual and group awareness to help foster more constructive, trust-based relationships.
"The four lenses training program is a critical aspect of effective team building. It allows each team member to better understand themselves as well as their counterparts,” said Col William Giezie, 180FW vice wing commander. “By learning and understanding the strengths and capabilities of all members, the team can use these attributes and temperaments to increase the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the group as a whole."
The success of the U.S. Air Force relies on the strengths of each of the personalities in order to be more successful. By taking only a few hours out of your day, you can better understand yourself and the people you work around, creating a more cohesive team and greater work environment.