While DISC can be a powerful personal tool for self-awareness and personal development, it can have a multiplier effect in the workplace, where colleagues and teams can use DISC for better cohesion, communication, and results. In this article we will look at three ways to use DISC at work and achieve better results.
Tailor Your Communication
We all have to use email these days, but have you noticed that some people don’t really like using email, and that some people perhaps like it a bit too much? High Is (Influence: positive, charismatic) don’t like email. They prefer in-person communication, with all the small talk and lubrication that goes into those interactions. High Ds (Dominance: task-oriented, natural leaders), on the other hand, like email, particularly short and direct ones. Unlike High Is, who like to use names, Ds may not use names (they may not even say “hello”) as they are oriented towards results and what they consider efficient communication.
While it’s important to be aware of what your communication style is, what’s more important in the workplace is being aware of the style of your peers, and tailoring yourself to them. Not because it’s about ignoring who you are, but because you want good results, and that comes from meeting people at their level, not forcing them to come to yours. This can create a virtuous circle in which a coworker sees your efforts and tries to come towards your style as well.
Productivity in a team is directly related to communication, but it’s also important to be aware of what motivates individuals. High Ss (Steadiness: organized, great listeners), for example, are motivated by the happiness of others, and in the context of a workplace, this will be the teams they are part of. If you put an incentive in front of them in which their participation will help the group achieve a goal, that will be more important to them than some personal financial reward.
High Cs (Conscientiousness: thorough, team players) love data, spreadsheets, and analysis. You wouldn’t put them in charge of some kind of social event like a dress-up day (which by the way, they won’t want to participate in anyway) but you’d be a fool not to have them take charge of research, processes, procedures, and the like. You also need to keep them on track, because sometimes they can go too far down a rabbit hole in their enthusiasm to learn facts, which are some of the things that excite them most in life.
Awareness of DISC profiles gives you flexibility to adapt your team to projects instead of being shackled to job descriptions or roles. Putting people in the lanes in which they thrive means the whole team can move faster.
Even the biggest advocates of DISC will tell you not to be overly reliant on it. What any useful personality profile can offer you (and there are others out there besides DISC) is an ongoing reminder about how to be our best selves, but others may not know how to best communicate or work with us. By being aware of our strengths and weaknesses, we can more easily lean into the strengths of others and be more accommodating of their weaknesses.
Greater self-awareness as a practice can spread throughout the team and create an environment in which teammates are not just accommodating the styles of others, but genuinely asking for feedback on how they work and communicate, so that they can improve as colleagues and people. These are just a few of the truly improved results when you take DISC from an object of curiosity to a tool to build a better workplace.