Making DISC a part of Your Organization's Culture

Jun 8, 2016 7:08:51 AM / by Christina Bowser


DISC sessions are often fun and helpful. However, DISC must be used in daily practice in order to provide real value to an organization.

Why is this topic so important?

Markku Kauppinen, President and CEO of Extended DISC NA, Inc. and Christina Bowser, Senior Trainer, share simple, yet powerful ideas on building DISC into the culture of your organization.

Facilitators, consultants, and trainers frequently ask us how to build DISC into organization's culture. People love the DISC workshops, but how to we create more value for the organization? How do we make DISC "stick?"

Challenges to using DISC in an organization

There are challenges when it comes to incorporating DISC. Challenges are not unique to DISC training, but to training in general. Often times it's an event - fun, exciting, and informative, but reality is we go back to work (e.g., emails, phone messages, deadlines, customers, etc.) so we basically go back to our routines.

DISC Reports get filed away and then behaviors don't change. We need to remember why we are doing this. The goal is to create a better more confident self-awareness. Knowing ourselves, how to identify communication styles of others, and modifying our behaviors to better sell, communicate and interact means success.

We all want to do it, but how do start?

Top management's role requires the message to be clear. These folks are successful and in charge. They give the message importance and value. If my boss thinks it important, then I better make it important for me. It's tough, but if you can get management to communicate the value of why DISC is important.  Top management needs to use DISC language daily and everyone will soon adopt it.

The role of the manager

Each and every manager plays a critical role. If employees know what is expected of them then  they will more likely comply. People don't quit the organization they quit their managers. Ask one critical question, "What DISC styles is that prospect/customer/co-worker?" This ensures that employees know it's important and expected.  If managers don't pay attention then other training come up and it fades away.  Use the critical question in meetings.  It's a coaching moment for everyone. This will create conversation around DISC and it will more likely integrate. You can't use exact same question every time, but use same context.

What can managers start doing

We forget a lot from trainings so managers need to coach to help employees incorporate DISC. Ask two questions.  First, "Is that person more active or reserved?" Listen to what a person talks about, how they talk, and any visual cues. Secondly, ask, "Is the person more task or people focused?" Does the person focus more on team vs numbers, processes, emotions, or things vs relationships. If you can help your employees put those two answers together than you can easily identify others' styles. It becomes a habit and it supports the primary question.

A simple way is to remind staff is to keep DISC physically visible. You can plot your employees' styles on DISC chart and post it in a visible place.  This reinforces and reminds us that employees communicate differently and we constantly need to make adjustments.

Communicating DISC tools is important

Don't let it become out of sight and out of mind.  Use your CRM system to add DISC style field. The more information we have the better. This is critical because we don't always have face-to-face interactions. You can use DISC in phone calls and emails. If you are not sure then put your best guess style followed with a question mark. Then next time you can listen or look for more clues. This makes your life and co workers lives easier.

Support materials can also help reinforce DISC learning. We use the Quick Reference Card which is our most popular and useful tool.  The simple card gives you specific words you're looking for and quick ideas to remind us how to better communicate. People carry it around and keep it handy. The Self Development Guid Booklet gives more detailed information. Think of it as Cliff Notes to enhance knowledge and reminds us not to go into auto-pilot.

Manager's role is critical

Managers need to help coach employees to become more fluent and comfortable with DISC. Our time is limited and we have so much to do already. The nice thing about DISC is it doesn't take a lot of time. You may need to practice it a little bit in the beginning, but then it becomes a part of the culture.

ing and debriefing the moment and listing ways you used to identify the customer's style really puts it into practice. Ask them to think about what they talked about, words they used, tonality, types of questions asked (who, what, how, why), and when possible, eye-contact and body language.

Have employee think about specific ways you modified your own behavior to effectively communicate, motivate and influence. What adjustments works and didn't work?  Could you have done any better? What did you learn from interaction? Is there at least one takeaway. Anything you will start doing and stop doing in the future?

Top management is ideal

It's optimal and ensures success when top management buys into the DISC tool. Even still, there are many levels of managers especially in large organizations that impact the success of building DISC into your organization's culture . There are more challenges for managers when their own boss doesn't reinforce DISC. Think of it as the "trickle down effect." Managers are key players when it comes to making DISC a part of the organization's culture.

Lastly, as managers and employees, are you using DISC at home with your spouses, kids and partners? Using it at home with most important people in your life has a powerful impact and you will see the carry over value in the workplace.

Topics: Webinar

Christina Bowser

Written by Christina Bowser