Can you pinpoint the behavioral responses that your top performing managers produce consistently and naturally? What about your top-performing salespeople? Administrative assistants?
Let’s turn these questions on their heads.
Can you identify the behaviors that seem to trip up the low performers in your organization? If they responded differently, would they get out of their own way and on the path to success?
We’re not talking about complex concepts–efficiency, self-motivation, independence, friendliness, enthusiasm, self-confidence, etc.
The DISC profile is one of the most popular personality assessments used across organizations of all sizes and in all industries throughout the world for a reason. It gives you objective data that allows you to isolate some of the common denominators present in your high or low performers.
You can use the data the DISC assessment provides to takes some of the guesswork out of hiring. And though we do not recommend using it exclusively as a pre-hire screening tool because it does not measure a specific skill, aptitude, or ability based on a particular job, we believe the addition of the DISC profile in your hiring and management processes holds exciting possibilities for improved performance.
How the DISC Works
William Moulton Marston, a Harvard psychologist in the early 1900s, was a contemporary of Freud and Jung. While they were busy studying abnormal psychology, Dr. Marston applied his efforts to normal personal responses and emotions. He created the DISC, an easy-to-understand model for demonstrating common emotional responses to the perceptions and demands of a person’s environment.
In its most fundamental form, the DISC assessment revolves around 2 axes. The vertical axis reflects a person’s outward energy or activity. A fast-paced person will tend to be more outspoken and assertive, while a moderate-paced person will tend to be more thoughtful and careful. The horizontal axis defines a range from skepticism to acceptance, with skepticism indicating greater cynicism and acceptance indicating greater trust of others.
Together, these 2 axes reveal the broad characteristics of 4 styles of behavior: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.
Because test-takers can learn this model so quickly, many stop far short of all that the theory has to offer.
To demonstrate the wonderful power of this personality model, I’ve compiled and summarized my research into the explanations below. You will discover how to match candidates’ responses to those required for successful job performance within their role. Furthermore, the DISC behavior assessment offers insights far beyond the hiring decisions. Just imagine how helpful the following information could be for your organization.
Those who have a behavior pattern most influenced by the Dominance factor:
- Are fast-paced and skeptical of the people and situations in their environment
- Solve new problems quickly and assertively
- Take an active and direct approach to achieving results
Since these types are motivated by action and challenge, they can easily grow impatient and require constant opportunities to solve important problems. In meetings and discussions, they need to know what is expected and need to focus on solutions rather than problems.
If their level of Dominance becomes problematic, they need to be encouraged to slow down and think through new problems carefully before acting. Otherwise, they can rush to decisions and cause problems for your organization or team.
The way Dominance manifests itself all depends on how it is combined with other behaviors.
When combined with other less intense factors, Dominant behavior takes on a new flavor. The greater the spread of any of these categories, the more pronounced these characteristics will be:
1. Efficiency (D>I)
A higher intensity of Dominance with a lower intensity of Influence produces a drive for efficiency. This person is objective and works in an effective, resourceful, and competent manner, which is great for keeping the team on track and meeting deadlines.
However, when efficiency causes an individual to compromise how or why things are done for the sake of fast results, details will get missed and quality will suffer.
2. Self-Motivation (D>S):
When Dominance is higher than Steadiness, the employee will display a high degree of self-motivation. This person can think and act quickly without instruction because they are able to plan and produce new ideas for themselves. In a team setting, the self-motivated individual enables the team to accomplish more, which creates greater efficiency as a group.
The downside to self-motivation is that it can cause conflicts and resentment within the group due to impatience, lack of empathy, or lack of trust toward team members who don’t keep pace.
3. Independence (D>C):
A team member who displays Dominance over Conscientiousness possesses a spirit of independence–preferring to work alone, creating their own rules, resisting authority, and taking pride in what they can achieve on their own.
At first glance, you may be disconcerted by this characteristic. However, independence can foster self-reliance, self-regulation, and a freedom to create and innovate. Independent individuals can help the team avoid stagnation as long as they are not belligerent, arrogant, or poor team players who are unable to learn anything from anyone other than themselves.
Employees whose behavior is most characterized by the Influence factor are:
- Accepting of the people and situations in their environment
- Talkative, interactive, and open
- Gregarious and socially assertive
Because Influencers are motivated by recognition but concerned about a possible loss of social influence, a good manager will give them public recognition when appropriate, allow time for questions, and try not to overload them with a lot of details.
If your employee’s Influence behavior is overpowering, you can encourage this person to exhibit more emotional restraint along with a more controlled, quiet and reserved communication approach.
As with the Dominance behavior pattern, the Influence type takes on a new flavor when combined with other less intense factors. The greater the spread of any of these, the more pronounced these characteristics will be:
1. Friendliness (I>D)
Friendliness is the opposite of Efficiency. When a person’s behavior is more Influential than Dominant, they are entertaining and fun to be around. Your team members who exhibit Friendliness can communicate effectively, build rapport and gain the trust of others.
While Friendliness is a great trait in people-oriented work like sales or public speaking (as long as the friendliness is not overdone), it can present weaknesses in more task-oriented responsibilities.
2. Enthusiasm (I>S)
When Influence is more intense than Steadiness, the result is an outgoing, positive, and energetic pace we call Enthusiasm. Enthusiasm enables a person to be open with their feelings, have a bright outlook on life, find pleasure in normal circumstances and motivate others to be enthusiastic as well.
Unfortunately, too much enthusiasm can become a weakness when it causes an inability to understand coworkers in sour moods, a rush to action without thinking things through or frustration with constructive criticism or caution intended to be helpful.
3. Self-Confidence (I>C)
Leading with Influence over Conscientiousness produces an air of self-confidence that not only allows for a level of comfort and ease in social situations but also causes the individual to doubt others before doubting himself. Self-confident team members can make their presence known in any situation, assure themselves of what they do well, and explore their visionary ideas even in the face of adversity or criticism.
However, self-confidence can be taken to a wrong extreme and cause the individual to act impulsively rather than logically. When this happens, the team member can be seen by coworkers as being egotistical, close-minded, and uncaring.
Your employees who exhibit Steadiness as their most dominant factor are moderate-paced and accepting of the situations and people around them. As such, they prefer a more controlled and predictable environment that allows them to stay in the same position or role longer than other behavior patterns will.
They are motivated by cooperation and sincerity, can be limited by their own indecision, and worry about the loss of stability.
Other team members can help Steady employees by:
- Being personable and amiable
- Taking time to clarify instructions
- Explaining what is expected of them
If an employee’s Steadiness is too intense, encourage them to see the good that can come from the freedom of expression and ability to change activities in a more flexible, dynamic, unstructured work environment. This encouragement may help them productively deal with any lack of stability they face.
When complemented by other factors, Steadiness takes on a new flavor. The greater the spread of any of these characteristics, the more pronounced they will be:
1. Patience (S>D)
Patience, the opposite of Self-Motivation, is marked by the following traits:
- Low sense of urgency
- A naturally submissive nature
- Ability to deal with people
- Taking time to think things through
- Accepting change as a natural, slow and steady progression of life
If taken to an extreme, or left unchecked, Patience can be a weakness that causes the team member to have a difficult time making quick decisions or necessary changes, which can be especially problematic in leadership positions.
2. Thoughtfulness (S>I)
When Steadiness is more prevalent than Influence, the resulting behavior is called Thoughtfulness–the opposite of Enthusiasm. Acting thoughtfully means trusting the conscious mind rather than the instinct. Therefore, thoughtful people are diligent to think things through before speaking or acting.
Thoughtful individuals think logically, deal well with others and follow through on their responsibilities. How could there be a downside to this?
Unfortunately, the drive for Thoughtfulness can cause missed deadlines and mishandling of time constraints because of the deeply held desire to make the project or process perfect before delivery.
Consider placing Thoughtful individuals in roles that require careful planning but not as many quick deadlines and high-pressure decisions.
3. Persistence (S>C)
Steadiness that is greater than Conscientiousness is called Persistence. This is the tortoise–the one who is able to accomplish a goal others cannot simply because they determinedly trudge along to the finish line.
Persistence can be a powerful strength that enables an employee to work toward the same goal much longer than their co-workers and push past obstacles until the job is done.
The strength becomes a weakness when the employee must multitask, step out of the patterns of the status quo, or kill an unproductive project that is draining resources.
Persistent individuals may perform well in roles that have long-term goals in mind but do not produce immediate results. Persistent employees can thrive in job functions that might discourage others.
Individuals whose behavior is characterized primarily by Conscientiousness are moderate-paced and skeptical about people and situations. To navigate situations successfully, those high in Conscientiousness will exercise quality control by adhering to rules, standards, procedures and protocol.
Conscientious employees are:
- Motivated by expertise and quality work
- Limited by too much critique or analysis
- Worried about criticism for being wrong
If you have a Conscientious team member, you’ll want to focus on facts and details with tact, politeness, patience and diplomacy. If a person’s Conscientious behavior pattern becomes problematic, help the employee focus on outcomes and develop flexible strategies to achieve them. This way, they can operate more independently from the current rules and standard procedures that sometimes stand in the way.
1. Cooperativeness (C>D)
When Conscientiousness is stronger than Dominance, the result is Cooperativeness–with both people and policies. Cooperative individuals are strong team players who tend to pair an easygoing personality with a rule-oriented approach to their work.
Not only do they typically respond well to leadership, they also tend to go the extra mile with communication to make sure they are on the same page and deliver the expected results.
As wonderful as it sounds, Cooperativeness can also be a weakness when it causes the individual to be unable to make decisions, or when the standard rules need to be bent a little in order to deliver the best service or product.
Managers can place Cooperative individuals on teams that have to collaborate or where rules and procedures must be carefully followed. They can execute the expected work with precision and get things done.
2. Accuracy (C>I)
Conscientiousness that is greater than Influence produces Accuracy. An Accurate person does things right the first time. Therefore, rather than take risks, they make sure they fully understand the situation or assignment, diligently checking and then re-checking their work.
An accurate individual delivers high-quality work that requires very few corrections or edits. And when they offer what sounds like their opinion, you can be fairly certain they are actually delivering researched truth or fact.
Accuracy becomes a weakness when it leads an individual to consistently correct everyone else’s work or ideas, or when they do not produce less-than-perfect results quickly enough to be meaningful in the need of the moment.
3. Sensitivity (C>S)
An employee who displays Conscientiousness over Steadiness is sensitive to the details and nuances of a situation. This person can foresee potential benefits and consequences of impending change.
Sensitivity can function as a strength that allows the individual to:
- Quickly assess risk and decide whether or not to take it
- Build rapport with others
- See problems and what is required to correct them
- Anticipate where projects might go wrong or how seemingly insignificant decisions could multiply into serious obstacles further down the road
Sensitivity can also be a weakness if the person is too sensitive, taking feedback personally or being distracted by everything happening around them.
Using the DISC to Hire the Right Candidates and Put Employees in the Right Spots
As you might have already recognized, the DISC theory can easily demonstrate why candidates high in Influence and Friendliness, Enthusiasm, or Self-Confidence will tend to be the most impressive in the interview. On the other hand, you might miss other necessary traits in your organization such as Conscientiousness, Thoughtfulness or Patience. You need more diversity in your company and you need to be able to see more in the hiring process.
The DISC is just one of the fantastic ways you can incorporate objective data into your hiring decisions. If you are not using personality assessments with your employees, DISC is a great place to start! And if you want to see how the DISC delivers the best results when used in conjunction with other assessment tools, you can try out our MAP tool for free.
We want to hear from you! What benefits have you experienced with the use of DISC Profiles in your hiring process? Tell us in the comments.