3 Steps to Effectively Use DiSC® in the Workplace

Does your organization have an instruction manual on creating collaboration and synergy among employees and team members that results in the “whole” being greater than simply the sum of the parts? One of the most basic principles for business success is leveraging the power and performance of our human resources, both individually and collectively. Sounds good, but how does an organization or leader go about navigating the challenge of building and managing the kind of trusting and productive relationships that accelerate team and organizational performance and result in business excellence?

“The action is in the interaction.”  ―Douglas Conant

Step 1:  Lay the Foundation 

There are many varied products on the market to help organizations build the collaborative prowess and agility needed for success in today’s rapidly changing business environment: MBTI, Strength-Finders, and DiSC® are some of the most popular. Our team has worked with many of these products, and while most deliver value for the individual, we’ve found that DiSC® is THE most powerful tool in an organizational and team context. Indeed, the DiSC® model of work styles is one of the most powerful tools in which an organization can invest, simply because of how easily people understand the language of DiSC® and how quickly they start to apply it in their organizations. 

DiSC® is the building block that allows an organization to build and work from one foundation and one language in order to successfully navigate business relationships via a common platform and skill set. Making the commitment to enroll your organization in an assessment program that builds self-awareness and fosters better interactions among team members goes a long way towards building a culture of engagement and increased results. When leaders know themselves and one another better, there is greater trust and deeper relationships.

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.” ―Carl R. Rogers

Step 2:  Harness the Opportunity 

What is DiSC® and why is it so powerful? All employees and team members have values and behavioral styles that influence what they expect, how they prefer to interact and how they make decisions. The challenge is knowing how to figure out and approach one another’s behavioral style for the most positive and productive interaction, building both appreciation of others AND agility in interacting with them in our collective drive for business results. The DiSC® model of work styles, creating awareness of self and others, is a framework for understanding each person as an individual and the impact we have on the team and organization as a whole. 

This framework is highly effective precisely because of its simplicity – it is immediately accessible to all participants and applicable to all situations. We see organizations use it effectively to create neutral language around past criticism: instead of hearing critical language like “she is so aggressive,” we hear greater understanding and appreciation such as “that is just her D (Dominance) style, she really wants to excel in her performance and that helps all of us.” 

This ability to create neutral language for style preference offers teams and organizations the ability to approach learning more about themselves and others with anticipation. We also make a strong point that for any organization to be successful, you need all 4 DiSC® styles for success. By increasing the individual and team’s capacity not only to understand, but to embrace and value each others’ styles and contribution to the team, DiSC® serves as the catalyst for improved communication, stronger relationships, higher levels of productivity, and improved business results.

“Through others we become ourselves.” ―Lev S. Vygotsky

Step 3:  Notice the Patterns 

Once your organization has laid the foundation and started down the path of harnessing the opportunity, it’s time to start noticing the patterns. We use a Team Map to illustrate where all the team members land on the DiSC® circumplex. What pattern do you notice?

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Joe Leader (red dot) is a pronounced DC style (Dominant and Conscientious – prioritizes driving results predicated on data/analysis), yet the majority of his team (blue and green dots) are S (Steadiness – drives for harmony and stability) and I (Influence – drives results through influence and relationships). What are the implications for Joe as a leader?  What adaptations to Joe’s style (more data driven, more questioning and skepticism) might he need to consider in order to motivate and interact most effectively with his team  who are more people-oriented, accepting and warm? What are the implications for team interaction, both positive and negative? What ramifications are there for not having a more balanced “portfolio” of work styles within the team? Viewed on a macro level, what impact does the distribution of employee work styles have on organizational culture? 

With DiSC® for team development as the firm foundation for exploration, assessment, skill acquirement and establishment of a common language, all of these questions and more provide fertile ground for exploring, exercising and strengthening organizational and team collaborative muscle, and of course, results! What does your organizational and team DISC®-ography look like?  

“Wisdom tends to grow in proportion to one’s awareness of one’s ignorance.” ―Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom