Building Teams that Achieve Results with Everything DiSC®
I took my first DiSC® profile as a young manager and it changed the path of my career. It illuminated blind spots and helped me understand that everyone else does not see the world as I do. It showed me that others have different motivators, stressors, and priorities. The filters through which we view the world drive behaviors, as well as preferences, communication style, and the approach to conflict.
On high-performing teams, team members understand, appreciate, and value the strengths each team member brings to the team. There is a high level of respect and trust. This leads to a willingness to engage in the kind of dialogue and debate that results in new and better solutions.
What is Everything DiSC®
The DiSC® model is a research-validated tool that has been used for decades by companies around the world to improve communication and working relationships leading to improved performance and better results. The model was first proposed by Columbia University professor William Moulton Marston in 1928 in his book, The Emotions of Normal People.
The DiSC model measures two underlying motivators of human behavior on a continuum from high to low. The need for affiliation is plotted on the horizontal axis while the need for control is mapped on the vertical axis. The motivators are combined to describe four personality styles: Dominance (D), Influence (i), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C). It is important to remember that all DiSC® styles and priorities are equally valuable, and every person is a blend of all four.
Knowledge of the DiSC model helps leads to higher-performing teams in a multitude of ways. Three of the most critical are helping team members:
· Build trust
· Improve communication
· Decrease destructive conflict
Think of a high performing team that you have been part of. Jot down the characteristics of that team. If you are like most of the participants in my team development sessions “trust” is one of the characteristics at the top of your list. There is generally agreement that trust is critical to a high performing team. What is less clear is how to build trust among team members, especially in a remote work environment. Team members working virtually since the beginning of the pandemic has left many teams with many team members who have never even met each other in person.
Often this means the trust among team members that is necessary for high-performing teams has not been forged. When there is a lack of trust, team members jump to conclusions and assume negative intention rather than giving people the benefit of the doubt or discussing a situation directly. Toxic conflict arises, tearing teams apart and hurting productivity.
Whether in an office setting or working remotely, DiSC can be an effective tool for building trust on your team in two distinct ways. First it helps members with even very different styles find areas where they are similar. This is important because we are hard-wired to trust those who are like us. DiSC helps identify similarities that may not be readily observable.
Second the model helps people move up the judging to valuing ladder. It helps them better understand where team members are coming from and explore the value that each person’s unique strengths bring to the team.
A high level of trust it leads to a culture of psychological safety that allows team members to be vulnerable, share weaknesses, and admit mistakes resulting in greater collaboration, commitment, and accountability.
“I want to improve the way my team communicates”. This is a top request I hear from leaders. And the biggest issue team members have with leaders: “They don’t communicate.” Everything DiSC® is an outstanding tool for improving communication on teams.
Effective communication is more than providing increased information or providing it more frequently. It is about understanding the lenses through which people view life. These lenses impact our beliefs, priorities, and perceptions. They motivate the way we communicate and inform the type of communication we prefer.
DiSC can help decode the communication approach that will work best in a given situation. It provides a tool we can use to adapt our style to emulate the style the people with whom we are talking. Here are three specific ways you can adapt communication based on style:
Use words that resonate. For example, “winning”, “results”, and “bottom-line” are words that typically resonate with someone who has the D style. When communicating with someone who has this style, an effective way to start a conversation could be, “The bottom line is…”. Or, “The results we expect are…”
Emulate gestures. If a someone with an i style is talking with someone with a C style, the person with the i style will probably need to “tone down” their hand motions and lower their energy level to be heard by the individual with the C style.
Match voice tone and speed. When someone with a D style and someone with an S style are communicating, the person with the D style will be more effective if they slow down the pace of delivery. The individual with the S style will increase effectiveness by being more to the point in their delivery.
Be cognizance of approach. Someone with the C style is likely to want to keep conversation on work-related topics while a person with the i style is going to desire a more informal, personal approach. Someone with the D style is going to appreciate a direct, to-the-point approach. While an individual with the S style may be offended by this.
Since we naturally communicate like we prefer to be communicated with, these different communication styles can lead to disagreements and conflict. When team members understand their style as well as the styles of their teammates, everyone can learn to both adapt their style and be more accepting of other styles.
Reducing Destructive Conflict
Have you ever found yourself working with someone who you just didn’t get along with? Despite your best efforts, the relationship remained rocky. Tensions were high and productivity was suffering.
Perhaps you felt like this person was always asking questions or throwing cold water on new ideas. They need so much detail to take action that it seemed like nothing ever moved forward. You considered them a barrier to achieving results.
They, on the other hand, may have thought you were prone to taking too much risk and acted with reckless abandon. They could have even seen you as a liability to the company.
The two of you emphasize different priorities. You focus on taking action, a priority associated with the i or Influence style as well as the D or Dominance style. Your teammate puts a higher priority on accuracy, a typical characteristic of the C or Conscientiousness style.
An understanding of the DiSC® model and personality styles helps teammates appreciate the strengths that each brings to the table and develop strategies to leverage those strengths for the good of the team and the organization.
This example only scratches the surface, but it gives you a sense of how powerful knowledge of DiSC styles can be. You can use this knowledge to transform destructive conflict into productive conversations that lead to greater trust, improved communication, and better results.
The True Power of DiSC
While greater trust, improved communication and decreased conflict are important, the true power of DiSC is that it gives us the flexibility to see the world from a variety of different perspectives – to truly understand ourselves and others. It gives us the tools to adapt to the situation and to the individual based on what is needed instead of relying on our default approach. At its foundation DiSC is a tool for improving Emotional Intelligence.
DiSC helps us be better teammates and more effective leaders. It facilitates stronger more effective relationships not only at work but in every area of our lives.
Would you like to learn more about using Everything DiSC to not only build high-performing teams but also develop high-performing leaders and create a high-performing culture? Download our complimentary white paper now.
For over 30 years, Julie Chance, founder of Action-Strategies-By-Design, has helped build cohesive, high performing teams – as a participant, as a leader and as a consultant. Her extensive background encompasses positions in strategy, operations, and marketing, including nearly two decades spent in leadership positions in the healthcare industry. This experience, combined with an acute understanding of human behavior, uniquely positions Julie to support leaders in building high-performing teams that excel in developing real solutions to real-world, real-time problems.