DISCover The Key To Understanding Your People

"You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality." Walt Disney 

When you take a close look at what makes businesses successful, the common denominator is the people element. Obviously the product or service they have to offer has to be great but it is the people factor, together with the skill of communicating effectively, that make the difference.

I am often asked, “What is the most useful tool that you have used in business?” Without a doubt, it is DISC personality profiling.

I have used DISC profiling for more than twenty years to recruit, retain, manage and motivate my teams and in my opinion there’s still nothing else that compares with it for accuracy and ease of use. When it comes to understanding people, how they like to process information, communicate to others and how they like to be communicated with, DISC really has given me an incredible perspective.

Those who recognise the valuable impact that people can have in business will find DISC a powerful tool for enhancing communication and building relationships at work (and in the rest of your life).

The DISC methodology was developed by American psychologist, Dr William M. Marston and others, following years of research. It is now in use around the world. DISC is a remarkable tool that helps to increase self-awareness, while understanding and appreciating others. Marston’s belief was that people are different – but they are predictably different and DISC is the tool that helps you predict that difference.

DISC in Business 

When you really know your team, you can get the best out of them. As in any sports team, you want to play your people in their best positions.

Some people like to be given lots of detail before starting on a project; others prefer just the main points; some enjoy working with and among by other people, others prefer a quieter environment. The DISC analysis will identify each person’s preferred style of communication and what their potential challenge areas may be. For example: sales people are often outgoing, people orientated, verbally persuasive, optimistic – in addition to these traits, they can sometimes lack an attention to detail – so it may be valuable to provide them with in-house support from someone who prefers to be detail-orientated.

DISC will also help you to manage your client relationships. Some prospective clients may not respond to your overtures because your approach doesn’t fit their preferred way of working or communicating. Being DISC-aware will prevent you from giving too much detail and information to those who don’t like it and not enough for those who do.

The DISC methodology is based on four core personality groupings:

Dominant; Influencing; Steady and Compliant. Each of us is unique combination of one or more styles that vary in intensity, depending on the situation, and whether at home or at work.

The D-style is more outgoing + task-orientated

The I-style is more outgoing + people-orientated

The S-style is more reserved + people-orientated

The C-style is more reserved + task-orientated

Most people have core characteristics that intensify under pressure. For example, a D-style person may make decisions without taking account of others’ feedback; an I-style person may dominate the conversation; an S-style person may be resistant to change; a C-style person may become overly focused on detail.

D-style (Dominant)

Those with high ‘D’ in their profile are competitive. They are action-orientated and comfortable with fast-paced decision-making. They will remain focused on a long-term, strategic goal. A D-style person tends to prefer challenging but achievable targets. They often like to be judged by results and not methods.

‘Ready – FIRE … aim’

You can recognise a D-style easily because they are very direct communicators. They ‘tell it how it is’ and like explanations to be brief and to the point.

Driving passion: Winning

Greatest fear: Being taken advantage of, fear of failure

Communication style: Telling; prefers to direct

Phrases often used: Let’s get started. I’ve decided. Why haven’t you …? Trust me. When?

Under pressure: Finds comfort in taking action; may become more dominant

The danger point: May make a fast decision and prefer to focus on detail later.

Ask them: ‘How much do you WANT this?’

I-style (Influencing)

Those with high ‘I’ in their profile thrive on praise and recognition. I-styles are often creative and may have trouble settling on a single idea. They find it easy to start things, but much harder to see them through, because they get distracted or can see too many alternatives. Deadlines are a challenge because they can be over-optimistic about what can be achieved in the timeframe. 

‘Ready – aim … TALK’

I-styles are easy to identify because they are friendly and often flamboyant. They like to be liked and will enthuse, chat, sidetrack and talk about themselves.

Driving passion: Recognition, fun

Greatest fear: Loss of popularity, social rejection

Communication style: Talking; prefers to sell

Phrases often used: I did, Me too, I know someone who…

Under pressure: Finds comfort in talking; may procrastinate

The danger point: Can be easily distracted by a new idea and not follow through on the current one.     

Ask them: ‘WHEN will you begin?’ 

S-style (Steady)

Those with high ‘S’ in their profile like clarity of purpose. They prefer to complete one task at a time and to see things through to completion.They are great listeners and team players. An S-style person needs time to adapt to change and seeks reassurance. They prefer routine and security.

‘Ready – aim – DELAY (because I’m not quite sure yet)’

An S-style person uses language that is reassuring, calming and considered. They are concerned with people’s feelings and their decisions may be based on the needs of others.

Driving passion: Harmony

Greatest fear: Change/loss of security

Communication style: Listening; prefers to work cooperatively

Phrases often used: How? How are you? We always, I am listening, In the past we used to..., I am not sure

Under pressure: Finds comfort in teaming up with others

The danger point: May put the feelings or opinions of others ahead of their own better judgement.

Ask them: What do you FEEL about this?’

C-style (Compliant)

Those with high ‘C’ in their profile are quality conscious and like things to be as right and good as possible. They may be slower to make decisions because they require adequate information before taking action. They like to feel in control and like to refer to facts and data.

‘Ready, aim, aim, aim, aim …’

A C-style person wants to analyse and understand. They will be concerned about what may have been overlooked, and will focus on facts, details and logic.

Driving passion: Perfection

Greatest fear: Being criticised

Communication style: Writing; Prefers to solve problems alone

Phrases often used: Why? What if? I have the facts, I have written it down, I will look into it in more detail

Under pressure: Can suffer from paralysis of analysis or be defensive

The danger point is: May wait for things to be perfect before taking action

Ask them: ‘Do you have all the FACTS you need to begin?’

As a Master Trainer in DISC profiling, I am very aware that this overview of DISC will probably provide too little detail for those with a ‘C’ profile and too much detail for the ‘I’ profiles.

The ‘S’ profiles may be concerned with how this information could affect their security and the ‘D’ profiles probably stopped reading after the section about the ‘D-style’!

I have seen time and time again how DISC can help improve the bottom line of the business. Through both my DISC Certification workshops and my work using DISC to profile businesses and large corporations, I have witnessed how DISC helps people work together and communicate more effectively. This in turn drives business onwards and upwards. Understanding our own DISC style is the starting point for understanding, because by learning to modify our own behaviour we can communicate better with others and help everyone to achieve greater success.

You can explore DISC further by downloading my free business App DO IT! OR DITCH IT, with access to a DISC profile questionnaire and a free DISC guide.

BEV JAMES is CEO of The Academy Group including The Coaching Academy – the world’s largest training organisation for coaches and the Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy. She is bestselling author of DO IT! OR DITCH IT (Virgin Books) and has recently launched the DO IT! OR DITCH IT app – a free business and productivity resource. Bev is also Mentoring Director for StartUp Loans; a new government initiative chaired by James Caan and set up by Lord Young. 

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