The power is in understanding your own motivators and stressors.

Have you ever wondered why it is that, at your workplace, you work with some colleagues better than others? Have you ever wondered why some colleagues can sometimes irritate you more than others?

At a workplace, there are lots of factors that play into relationship management. This blog is not about team management and formation. If you are interested in understanding the stages a team undergo before the become productive, I have wrriten a series of blogs on the topic which I provide the links to at the end of this blog. I am writing this blog to share 2 pointers that I believe are usueful in any work environment and will help individuals and team members to collaborate better.

I worked with Everything DiSC® model one way or another in the past 15 years. It has always provided clarity and areas of focus in my work environment. If you go through my earlier posts on team management, I refer to the Tuckman’s theory. This blog, however, explores the model of DiSC®. So what is this model? What are its key benefits? and how can you use it to enhance your engagement with others?

What is the DiSC® model?

DiSC® is a personal development assessment helping individuals understand their own tendencies and priorities. The model was introduced in 1928 by William Moulton Marston, a physiological psychologist, in a book entitled Emotions of Normal People. Marston was interested in researching the concept of human behaviour forming in four key areas: Dominance, Submission, Inducement and Compliance. He never created the instrument to assess this model. Like most research, a topic of such interest rarely comes to a stand still. Many researchers continued their studies and assisted in the development of what we know today as Everything DiSC®. While the researcjh started almost a century ago, here is the timeline of how it progressed:
🔹In 1940, an early measurement of the four behaviours in Marston research was established.
🔹In 1950, the measurement got enhanced a little further with additional dimensions to help individuals provide answers frankly, and not select answers based on what society deems appropriate.
🔹In 1970, the first personal profile assessment for DiSC® was created.
🔹In 1994, this personal profile assessment got a make over.
But for some reason, as businesses and communities went global in this 21st century the interest in the research and the model ramped up.

🔹In 2000, the research was studied further and the personal profile assessment moved from a linear result into its present the outcome on a circle map as shown in the figure on the right.
🔹From 2007 onwards, the model started to focus on various areas such as Sales, Management, Workplace, and Leadership. In the past decade, the entire approach to the assessment got revamped to include adaptive testing, which is facilitated by the use of technology. This means that algorithms are set in place to remove any ambiguity by asking similar questions that assess the same trait and provide responses that are clearly matching one of the four human behaviours. Yes, with all of the enhancements of the research and methods, the fundamentals of what Marston created remained the same: people respond to circumstances and behave in accordance to 4 different styles.

My TIP for you: when looking into models like this, do not treat any single model as an absolute. Make sure you understand several other models, what they assess, and how they differ from each the one you chose. One of the theories that is worth reading is Hofstede Cultural Dimensions.

Everything DiSC® Manual
Everything DiSC® Manual and Research

What are the key benefits of DiSC®?

Remember how I asked you early on, why you work better with some colleagues than others? Here is one of the key benefits of DiSC®. Everything DiSC® is used to enhance self awareness. Yes, self-awareness. Understanding your own self will shed a lot of light on why you work better with some and not others. However, let me remove any doubt or ambiguity before I progress. By completing your Everything DiSC®, you are not embarking on a complex journey with a psychiatrist who will be helping you uncover your childhood trauma and find resolutions to your deeply embeded anxiety.

Completing an Everything DiSC® assessment will help you embark on a much more simplistic journey. One that helps you understand why you tend to respond to certain circumstances and certain people in one way and not another. It will help you understand why others respond to you in the way they do, and how having such a diverse type of people can build a strong team and contribute to a healthy work environment. How does it achieve this? It explores three areas:

  • What motivates you
  • What stresses you
  • How you can be misunderstood

Exploring these areas does not happen in isolation either. After you explore that self awareness outcome, Everything DiSC® facilitates how you address these three areas with people who have different styles.

With Everything DiSC® Workplace, you also get a magnifying glass over a spectrum of priorities. These priorities contribute to your overall motivation, and highlight why, in certain circumstances, you may be potentially misunderstood.

Using DiSC® to enhance your engagement with others

Let us approach this with a scenario:

It is Monday 9am. You arrived into the office knowing that you have a busy week ahead of you, and your project has a major milestone that cannot be missed. You are working with a team of 4 people. Your 9.30am weekly stand up meeting goes as follows:

You: Where are we with these action items?
Team Member 1: I am 90% complete and I cannot wait to celebrate the success of this milestone
Team Member 2: Wouldn’t it be great to have such a success. I am too about 80% complete. Here is what I am working on…

So far so good. The optimistic tone is still available.

Team Member 3: Can we please not talk about celebrations yet. We still have a week to go and I want to make sure I complete the full audit before we release. I am also 80% done.
Team Member 2: Yes, but I am sure we can do that still… after all we are almost done
Team Member 4 to team member 3:I have finished my tasks on Friday, is there anything I can help you with to complete the audit?

Notice the different reactions and tone of your team. None of the above responses were aimed to doubt the success of the team, or tarnish the excitement that is portrayed on this Monday morning. however, people can perceive some of the tone as very caustious, or holding the celebration vibe back.

The meeting ended with clear action items on what is happening this week so you can handover this major milestone. At 10.30am Team Member 1 walks into your office to express that they are a little frustrated by Team Member 3 attitude towards this project and how they are always very cautious and behaving as if something is going to go wrong. Half an hour later, Team Member 3 walks into your office to express their reservations and concerns that Team Member 1 is jumping into conclusions of success too soon and that promoting the success too early could damage the reparation of the project, especially if something was uncovered this week. A bit of patience would be helpful at this stage.

Both are focused on the success of the project. Each one of them has a different priority or a focus point. Keep in mind:

Understanding everyone’s DiSC® style will help you understand their priorities.

No one on your team wants to fail. But this can be demonstrated and presented in different ways, by different team members. Some get excited that the finish line is insight. Others worry that some unforeseen circumstances might arise and cause disruption, thus jeopardising the joy of that milestone. Some are cautious by nature and would like to approach the milestone one day at a time, i.e. one progress day at a time. Others are able to bring a level of support to group so as the deadline is achieved by all. In the end, everyone wants that milestone celebrations but they respond to the journey that takes them there differently.

This is another benefit of Everything DiSC®. It explores the different styles individuals have and it brings a different layer of workplace priorities to the assessment. It helps you, and your team members, understand why some people would focus on accuracy while others want to ensure the team is collaborating as one example.

Everything DiSC Workplace® brings 12 different priorities. And with people focusing on different priorities, communication styles differ. Their motivators and stressors might be different. Understanding theirs and each other’s motivators and stressors will help remove misunderstandings and focus on better engagement.

The above scenario was very simplistic and removed from any context and surrounding factors that may impact your team members.

Can you think of any situation at work when team members misunderstood each other, and upon reflection, you (and they) realised that everyone was actually concerned with exactly the same point, but was looking at it from different angles? Please do get in touch and share your story.


Team Management in a series of 3 articles:

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