A conversation with Alison Jones, Director, GRA Strategy & Operational Effectiveness at Pfizer.
Extended DISC: Today I spoke with Alison Jones at Pfizer, one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies. She shared with me how her organization is using the Extended DISC® assessments. Tell me a little about your career at Pfizer.
Alison: I’ve been with Pfizer for 23 years. I’ve worked in many different areas with the firm. I started in drug safety and now I am in Human Resources.
Extended DISC: How do you use the Extended DISC® assessments in HR?
Alison: We use the Extended DISC® assessments mostly in team building, conflict resolution, and leadership.
Extended DISC: Let’s start with team building. Tell me more about that.
Alison: Sure. We introduce the team to the Extended DISC® methodology and talk about how the different styles communicate and tend to show up. The end goal is learning how best to interact with one another. Extended DISC® has become a language within many of our teams here at Pfizer. It’s embedded within the team culture. Oftentimes, I hear teams say things like “Oh, that’s so S-style.”
Extended DISC: Are there any requirements for a team session?
Alison: No, our sessions are all word of mouth. We do team sessions when a new team leader joins a team, and we’ve done sessions with long-term teams, and/or when new folks join a team.
Extended DISC: You mentioned you also use the Conflict Resolution reports. Tell me more about that.
Alison: We really use it as a conversation starter. For example, the last pair I worked with both had very similar styles. The report provided them with many “a-ha!” moments. They were very appreciative of the information and said it was helpful. They walked away recognizing areas that existed outside their comfort zones and understanding those situations may require having additional support.
Extended DISC: That’s great. It can be really powerful seeing your results sideby-side with a colleague’s results. Especially when you work so closely with one another. Has the pandemic impacted how you use Extended DISC?
Alison: Yes. When COVID hit we started using the assessments even more. We really wanted our employees to feel supported during this difficult time. Our audience is quite diverse. We are worldwide and support over 4,000 employees.
Extended DISC: Tell me how you reached such a diverse audience.
Alison: Technology. We send out the reports ahead of the session and ask participants not to open them until the session.
We get the participants engaged through activities. For example, we’ll ask them to place a dot on where they think their style falls on the Extended DISC® Diamond.
They work on case studies to practice making adjustments. For example, they may need to determine what is most important to adjust for such and such a project. We’ll create word clouds and have participants share 1 word that describes what they are taking away from the session.
Extended DISC: You mentioned you also use the Leadership reports. Describe for me how you use them.
Alison: It’s very similar to team building. We teach them how to adjust. Most of the time, after a leadership session, the leader wants to do a session with their own teams. I worked with one leader who was an I-style. It actually made his team feel better knowing he wasn’t a D-style. The team used to get frustrated with the leader talking all the time. Now, they’ve learned to adjust and build in 10 extra minutes for each meeting to allow time for socializing. It’s a small adjustment, but works great.
Extended DISC: What observations have you seen at Pfizer with the Extended DISC® assessments?
Alison: I’ve noticed a lot of people think they are D-style or want to be D-style. We really stress in our sessions that all styles are valuable. Pfizer tends to be heavy on the reserved side of the model. There are a lot of S- and C-styles. Some teams don’t even have any D-styles.
Extended DISC: How do you measure your success with the assessments?
Alison: We don’t market the Extended DISC® assessments. We only provide them upon request. So, it’s purely word of mouth that our associates hear about them. I measure the success of the tool by the fact we have a steady stream of requests.
Extended DISC: Thank you, Alison, for your time today. It’s been great talking with you and learning about how Pfizer uses the Extended DISC® assessments.