Work Style Assessments: Highlight on DiSC®
February 19, 2020 in Keeping Up with Human Capital
By Katey Erck, Mike Camburn
Every month we dive into what we are all so passionate about here at FMP: human capital management. We recognize that one person’s way of working may vary from their coworkers’—and that’s okay! As in many other circumstances, leveraging this diversity can lead to more successful, long-term outcomes. However, in order to most effectively reap the benefits of work style diversity, it is important to identify and recognize the nuances of various tendencies. One useful tool for detecting affinities in work style is the DiSC® assessment. FMP Consultant, Katey Erck, recently interviewed Mike Camburn, one of FMP’s most tenured Engagement Managers. Mike has utilized this assessment with numerous clients and discusses his preference for, and experience with, the DiSC® assessment.
In your experience, in what workplace situations is the DISC® assessment most useful? Why?
The DiSC® assessment helps us better understand our own personal style and preferences. The Workplace version of DiSC® is especially useful in situations where people need to collaborate to complete work. It helps us to understand why people respond differently than we do in a given situation. For example, being assigned to lead a new project might be exciting for your co-worker, but stressful for you, even if you are both equally capable of leading the project. Someone might love brainstorming big ideas, but shudder at the thought of turning those ideas into a step-by-step project plan. Meanwhile, their partner can’t wait to create a detailed list of tasks that can be tracked and measured.
Learning your colleagues’ and stakeholders’ preferences is the key to more effective interactions, which leads to greater trust, stronger relationships, and better results.
What differentiates DiSC® from other personality assessments? What are the greatest benefits of DiSC® over other assessments?
DiSC® assesses our tendencies and preferences using a combination of four basic styles: Dominance (D), Influence (i), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C). Everyone is a unique blend of all four styles; we just tend to gravitate more toward one or two styles. There is extensive information, based on decades of research, on the styles and how they interact. It’s important to understand that no one style is better than any other style. Instead, we can learn how to flex and adapt our style to have more effective interactions and relationships with people of all styles.
There are a variety of popular personality assessment tools that have been used to improve workplace interactions and team dynamics. Regardless of the assessment, they are just tools; they have the greatest impact when they are implemented by a skilled facilitator or coach. The reason that I prefer DiSC®, especially in a work setting, is because of the variety and adaptability of the tools and resources that are available to instructors and participants.
Which DiSC® tools have you found to be particularly useful with the groups you work with?
My favorite tool is probably the Comparison Report. After you complete the assessment, you can request a Comparison Report with others inside and outside of your organization. It will show the similarities and differences between you and the other person across a variety of work-related dimensions, such as your preferred level of structure, tolerance for risk, reliance on facts vs. intuition, whether you are strong-willed vs. accommodating, and more. The Comparison Report then provides insights into what your similarities and differences mean when it comes to your working relationship, gaining buy-in, giving and receiving feedback, managing tension, and working on a project together. I’ve had a number of people read a Comparison Report and say, “Aha! That’s why they responded that way!”
I think we often assume that people want information, instructions, and feedback the same way that we do. The Comparison Report shows that is definitely not the case. I think most people have good intentions when they communicate, but they don’t always get the reaction they were expecting because they haven’t considered differences in style and preference.
How can DiSC® be used to assemble teams and identify leaders?
In short, it shouldn’t. DiSC® is not a measure of ability or leadership proficiency and shouldn’t be used as a discriminator when placing people into roles. For example, someone with a Conscientiousness style may be more focused on details than the big-picture, but that doesn’t make them better at detail-oriented tasks than someone with a strong Influence style. Likewise, someone with a Dominance style may be more interested in results than team harmony, but they may not necessarily achieve greater results than someone with more of a Steadiness style.
Different DiSC® styles are correlated with different leadership traits, but leadership doesn’t inherently belong to any one style. The key to effective leadership is understanding the needs of each team member and situation and adapting your communication and behavior accordingly.
Once a team is assembled, however, DiSC® is a great tool to cultivate a positive and productive work environment. It’s a good idea to assess the blend of styles and how it might impact the dynamics of your team. You’ll want to make sure the work environment is welcoming of all styles, and that there are not any blind spots if the team is lacking in a particular style.
Is there anything else you’d like to emphasize regarding DiSC®?
DiSC® is a great tool to better understand ourselves and others, but it doesn’t confine us to a box. I prefer to think of our DiSC® style as our gravitational pull toward our tendencies and preferences. But, we still have control over our actions, and we can expand our comfort zone. I like to facilitate a fun DiSC® activity that involves people selecting their favorite Dr. Seuss quote. It’s remarkable how frequently people select a quote that represents their style. However, as a reminder that our DiSC® style doesn’t define our abilities or constrain our potential, I end the activity with a quote from Oh, the Places You’ll Go! – “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose” (Seuss, 1990).
Have you taken a DiSC ® Assessment? Share your thoughts on the assessment with us on LinkedIn!
Baum, D., & Scullard, M. (2015). Everything DiSC® Manual. Wiley.
Seuss, D. (1990). Oh, The Places You’ll Go. Random House.
Katey Erck joined FMP in March 2017. As a Consultant, she works on projects related to training development, competency modeling and organizational effectiveness. Katey is from New Vernon, NJ and enjoys attending exercise classes as well as exploring Virginia! Check out our previous Employee Spotlight on Katey!