How to maximize your DISC results to communicate more effectively.
Millions of people have completed DISC assessments to identify their behavioral style. However, company leaders and HR managers sometimes notice that employees react to these results with comments like, "Wow, I should have known I would be an I-style...I'm going to try harder to be a D." The intention of the DISC personality assessment (and your manager) has never been to encourage people to change their personality, but instead to maximize those traits, communicate more effectively, better understand the behaviors of others, and to modify behavior.
First Things First: What your DISC Results Say About You
DISC measures how we do things: how we communicate, make decisions, motivate, lead, and how we react to different situations. This means that your DISC assessment is an accurate depiction of how others view you based on your behaviors. This sometimes catches people by surprise as their results may not align with their self-proclaimed personality; this discrepancy is often present because we perceive ourselves one way and behave in another. DISC results can contribute to self-awareness by bringing the discrepancy to light.
Here's what you can expect:
- Your DISC assessment will describe how you handle a wide variety of circumstances, including authority, stress, emotion, decision-making, feedback, and more.
- Your results will help you identify what your strengths are (and how you can use them to your advantages) and where you can improve.
- This assessment will help you understand different personalities, motivate those around you, and improve your personal and professional relationships.
- Your results may help you determine why certain settings motivate you while others seem to drain your energy.
Likewise, there are several things your DISC results aren't meant to do:
- Your results aren't meant to encourage total personality change
- DISC isn't meant to create grounds for judgment in teams (you've heard it before: "I'm not surprised at all that Sally is a D; she's so overbearing.")
- Your DISC results aren't meant to indicate that you don't have control over your behaviors
Using Your DISC Results to Your Benefit
Adjusting Your Communication Style
There are several ways you can use your DISC results to accelerate your career and personal professional relationships. Study all of the different results those who take the assessment can receive and, if you don't have access to actual results, place those on your team into categories based on your best guess. Study the results for those categories until you have a solid understanding of what motivates and demotivates each team member; how they like to work and communicate; and what they fear most. The more you know your team members, the more you can tailor your message to their needs to improve the outcome nearly every time. This can be considered modifying your behavior when necessary, not changing your personality style. Here's an example:
John is a D: dominant, direct, and driven. Sara is an S: steady and sincere. John wants clear, direct instruction without time-wasting chitchat, so that's generally how he communicates with his work group. However, the approach seems to be offensive to Sara and has caused problems between the two of them. John studies Sara's DISC report and the next time he needs something, he takes a moment to ask Sara about her weekend plans and whether she's recovered from her cold before politely asking her to complete the task. Sara seems surprised and pleased and delivers almost immediately.
In this example, John didn't change his personality; he simply made Sara's needs a priority and modified his behavior to better suit Sara and their working relationship.
Growing in Emotional Intelligence
You can also use the DISC assessment to better evaluate people and situations that can cause hurt feelings and assumptions at work. When you understand that each person you have a personal or professional relationship with has innate traits and characters (and perhaps more importantly, that those traits and characteristics are necessary for many important roles in the organization), it's easier to recognize that behaviors, comments, and reactions aren't personal. Here's an example:
Alicia's DISC report categorizes her as an influencer; she is charismatic and thrives on relationships and conversation. Every week, she puts extensive time and effort into a report for Jill, the accountant. Every week Jill comes back to her and asks how she came up with her numbers. She specifically wants to know which policy Alicia followed, which calculation she used, and sometimes even requests a copy of the scratch paper she used to perform basic math functions, like adding and dividing. In the past, this has made Alicia feel as if Jill doesn't trust that she is capable and doesn't view her as a friend, but after reading her personality assessment results, she understands that compliant personalities, like Jill's, thrive on facts and data. Now she understands that these conversations help build Jill's confidence and are more about satisfying Jill's needs than about Alicia's performance or ability.
The more effort you put into understanding how the DISC assessment measures those around you and what it means for your working relationships,
Your DISC results provide you with a summary of areas where you excel and areas in which you can improve. Even these measures to improve shouldn't be done to change your results, but to become more self-aware and continuously improve. Take time to review areas of improvement listed on your DISC assessment report and set measurable, time-driven goals to make those improvements. For example, if organization is an area of improvement for you, resolve to use a planner to organize your tasks and appointments or to file incoming documents within 24 hours of receipt for the next 30 days.
Empowerment, Self-Awareness, and Self-Acceptance
Finally, use your DISC assessment report to recognize that every behavioral style is needed in a team environment and yours can take you as far as you want it to if only you embrace it and choose the profession that most benefits from your personality style.
By using your DISC results in all the right ways, you can continue to grow and advance both personally and professionally, improving your relationships and embracing who you are.