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Understanding DISC Profiles: Productive or Procrastinating?

September 17th, 2010

Everyone procrastinates from time to time, but do all DISC profiles procrastinate the same way?

The person with a high D DISC profile is associated with adjectives like decisive, strong-willed, goal-oriented, and bold. Many things that others might allow to become subjects of procrastination, the high D won’t because of a behavioral bias toward decisive action. If something is not moving toward a goal it is likely to be dismissed, or delegated to another to accomplish. If it is moving a goal forward then it will probably be acted on immediately – the fear and doubt which may cause others to stall on a task isn’t usually a problem for the bold D. However, if a high D is avoiding something due to an emotional conflict or a misalignment with personal motivations, he or she is more likely to displace the task with other activities than to stall out and do nothing.

A person whose DISC profile indicates a high I is associated with words like flamboyant, gregarious, pleasing, political, enthusiastic and superficial. Distraction is often more the cause of lapses in productivity for this individual rather than procrastination, however, if a task requires working alone, in seclusion, or is something that is perceived of as not fun or popular, then it is far more likely to be avoided by the high I. When confronted with an undesirable activity the high I will often seek comfort through interaction with others, which can cause a losing track of time – a form of unintentional avoidance. The high I will almost always procrastinate when it comes to chores like giving people bad news or disciplining others – they avoid things that might cause the other person to have a negative reaction to them.

Words like persistent, patient, modest, predictable and resistant to change are associated with the high S DISC profile. That means an S is more likely to resist activities that disrupt familiar routines or threaten the balance of established relationships. The high S person can be very productive if the routine of activities aren’t prone to rapid change or disruption, she thrives on steadiness not chaos. Procrastination brought on by emotional stress or intimidation may not be outwardly obvious – the high S can have a relaxed, even phlegmatic demeanor – they are unlikely to rebel vocally against an undesirable task, so a manager may not realize they have given the high S an assignment that is distasteful. Of the four categories, the high S is the most susceptible to procrastination – slipping into the mindset of hoping that the situation will go away if ignored, or that “time will solve the problem.”

The high C DISC profile is associated with perfectionism, meticulousness, and being strict about rules and procedures. The high C is typically very disciplined and detail oriented – tasks that other DISC styles might avoid because they seem dry, procedural or tedious, may actually be well-suited to the high C. Additionally the high C may have a lower empathy for procrastination by others because it can threaten processes and carefully architected systems. When the high C falls off in productivity it is more likely to be because they have let perfectionism get in the way than because they are avoiding a step in the process. Unlike the high S, when faced with a task that breaks compliance with procedure, the high C is likely to express the displeasure.

Understanding the DISC behavioral tendencies of your team can be vital to balancing strengths and unlocking better communication so that procrastination is minimized and productivity is improved.

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