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Posts Tagged ‘behavioral’

Ask the Expert: Lowering your S

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

A reader from the healthcare arena recently used our Ask the Expert form to ask:

** What does it mean if you have a Naturally high S, but your Adapted S is significantly lower? **

Art’s answer:

If you are seeing a DISC report with a Natural S that is high and an Adapted S that is much lower then you are actually seeing one of the most common behavioral adjustments in corporate America today. In the DISC spectrum the S reflects our preferences for different paces. When the S factor drops to a strong degree, it typically means the pace you’re encountering is greatly increased, that the variety of the work you are doing has increased (juggling lots of assignments at one time), or possibly your priorities are changing rapidly.

A person with a high Natural S likes to know what to expect – they are more comfortable knowing what’s going to happen well in advance. But if you are responding to the environment with a low Adapted S then it sounds like you might not be able to predict what you’ll be working on from one moment to the next, or have so many things on your plate, you may not be getting the closure you like. I often recommend those making this adjustment either get a bigger staff or do their best to prioritize their projects and takes some things off their plate. This isn’t always easy, particularly in today’s job climate where so many people are being asked to shoulder larger burdens and compensate for the missing productivity of people who have been let go, but not replaced, due to economic constraints. However, forcing someone to sustain an Adapted style that is drastically different from their Natural style can cause severe stress and loss of morale, especially if the person in question is pushed into this state frequently and for long periods of time. Frustration and resentment can increase in these situations.

It is also important to remember that the issue isn’t as much the direction of change, as it is the magnitude of change and the amount of time spent in the Adapted state. We often see executives with lower Natural S scores, who become frustrated and restless if they find themselves in a situation that causes them to have a higher Adapted S. Often an executive in this situation will make a move and quit the position as soon as they are able to because boredom is generally the least tolerable adapted state.

What’s your question?

Data Dome’s resident expert is our founder, Art Schoeck. A member of TTI’s prestigious International Faculty, Art often receives questions through our Ask the Expert form. We try to answer questions here on this blog that are representative of common questions regarding DISC and other assessment tools.

Do you have a question about DISC? If so please submit it via the Ask the Expert form. Although it may not be possible to answer every question individually, we use the “Ask the Expert” category of this blog to answer the DISC-related questions most important to our readers.

Ask the Expert: Me-Me Conflicts?

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Art Schoeck was recently asked the following question via our Ask the Expert form:

** What do you mean by the Me-Me Conflict? Could you flesh that out a little? **

Art’s answer:

There are certain DISC behavioral styles that pose a “Me-Me” conflict, meaning there exists internal incompatibilities between behaviors. The Me-Me conflicts occur when an individual displays behaviors that are at odds with each other, that interfere with intended outcomes or reframe the behavioral dynamics due to the combination of conflicting behaviors.

To illustrate this idea let’s examine some scenarios:

An individual who wants to like people (DISC profile = high I) and looks at others with warmth and emotion, yet has high standards with which she judges things, data, and… people (DISC style = core C). So she wants to be liked and wants to like others, but she holds others to high standards, which may relegate her associates to those with high standards for instance she may date only those who pass her strict checklist of criteria. Here we see the Me-Me conflict in the competition of the core C behavior with the drive of the high I behavior. However, as in the dating example mentioned, the result might not be one behavior preventing the other, but both behaviors combining, hence the C-driven checklist criteria applied to the I-driven dating.

An individual may have a sense or urgency to get immediate results (DISC style = core D) while at the same time desire perfection (DISC profile = high C), which takes time to achieve. They constantly have internal conflict of rushing to complete, which can increase the likelihood of infractions or errors, vs slowing the pace down adequately to perform in an error-free compliant manner. The high D wants results and action now, which is in conflict with the high C behavior of making sure things are done in adherence to the standard of perfection.

One more example, although there are many more Me-Me conflict variations, can be seen with people who look at things, data, and products in an emotional way, yet look at people logically and analytically. The may buy things based on their emotions, yet look at others with skepticism and a “prove it to me” attitude. Changing situational dynamics can reframe the conflict.

Sometimes people are confused by the mention of Me-Me conflicts in part due to the explanation that accompanies the DISC Success Insights Wheel in some reports. The wheel will sometimes have the word “Cross” on it along with arrows pointing to spots on the wheel (see this post for a deeper look at the Success Insights Wheel) this can indicate the potential presence of a Me-Me conflict, because we are seeing three of the four DISC factors above the line with the individual’s core (or most prominent) DISC factor and the factor that is directly across from it on the wheel constituting two of those three factors that are above the line. The confusion can come from the use of the word “opposite” which in the Success Insights Wheel’s explanation is meant to refer to the style which is on the opposite side of the wheel, however this is not actually an opposite of the DISC style: D and S are across from each other on the wheel, as are I and C, but these are not opposite behaviors. The opposite behavior of a high D is not a high S, it is a low D. Likewise the opposite of a high I is a low I, etc. There can be some similarities between a low D and a high S but the behavioral basis is different.

What’s your question?

Data Dome’s resident expert is our founder, Art Schoeck. A member of TTI’s prestigious International Faculty, Art often receives questions through our Ask the Expert form. We try to answer questions here on this blog that are representative of common questions regarding DISC and other assessment tools.

Do you have a question about DISC? If so please submit it via the Ask the Expert form. Although it may not be possible to answer every question individually, we use the “Ask the Expert” category of this blog to answer the DISC-related questions most important to our readers.

DISC Profiles and Stress: The Energy Crisis

Friday, October 15th, 2010

It was a little over a year ago that we discussed five ways leaders who understood DISC profiles could reduce stress amongst their employees. For many companies the climate is even more stress-inducing today: cutbacks have forced companies to ask for even higher levels of productivity from the employees that remain, workers are being asked to take on responsibilities of those who are no longer there – constantly adapting from their natural DISC behavioral style.

Occasionally stepping away from one’s natural DISC behavioral style is usually not a big deal, in fact it is commonplace to see some variance between a person’s natural and adapted DISC profiles. Taking on a new behavior once in a while might actually be a deliberate strategy or a welcome change of pace, but long-term sustained adaptions that push an individual away from their natural DISC style can be trouble.

Maintaining an exaggerated state of adapted behavior takes energy – the person is essentially stepping on the mental gas to keep themselves in a behavioral pattern that doesn’t come naturally. This constant depletion of energy can express itself in numerous ways: irritability, poor morale, aggressiveness, “shutting down”, even physical manifestations – headaches, susceptibility to illness, etc. Unfortunately even with these changes of mood and morale it can still be difficult for an untrained observer to pinpoint causes in manner that provides information for mitigating the stressed behaviors. In the case of high S’s this can be further exacerbated by their reluctance to make waves. The stresses can build and build if the high S provides them no outlet – the situation becomes a powder keg of pent up frustration waiting to explode.

DISC profiles are a great way to see beyond the surface and recognize when there are large gaps between adapted and natural DISC styles. The greater the gap the more energy the individual is expending to reach the adapted behavior. If all four DISC behavior categories are adapting above the line then the person may be feeling forced to be “all things to everybody” – a constant state of crisis. Understanding the DISC profiles gives you a tool to diagnose the situation and take steps tailored to the individual’s causes of stress as indicated by their behavioral profile.

For a quick understanding of what stresses out people with certain DISC profiles check out our previous observations in The World According to DISC: Stress Someone Out in Style and The World According to DISC: The Low Side of Stress Styles.

DISC and Motivators: Keys to Competence

Friday, September 24th, 2010

In a recent post by John G. Agno for Coaching Tip: The Leadership Blog some interesting, survey results are brought to light indicating that an alarming 33% of employees consider their managers to be incompetent. The article goes on to suggest that communication problems and recession-induced organizational changes may have much to do with the very high incompetence rating.

Agno seems to be on the right track. Communication is an essential managerial skill, but what is often overlooked are the DISC behavioral underpinnings that can make all the difference between a distrustful and unhealthy communication culture and one where information flows freely, encouraging trust and a sense of inclusion around the office.

Relationship dynamics within the workplace can be impacted by conflicting motivations and communication that isn’t adapted to the diversity of DISC behavioral styles amongst the staff. When a worker doesn’t understand a manager’s motivation or is expected to digest information that runs counter to the worker’s DISC style then the worker may come to a conclusion that the manager is in fact incompetent.

For example, let’s say the manager is a high C who is operating with strong Utilitarian/Economic motivators and the employee is a high D with strong Individualistic/Political motivators. The manager may announce a cutback based on a cut and dry procedural determination – profits are down, so cut costs – while the high D employee is focused on the goals set forth for the department and has a hard time seeing how they can be achieved with less staff. Without adapting communication that reconciles these points of view and behavioral biases it’s easy to see how a conflict could arise. The high C boss could take the high D employees natural resistance to the cutback as a disregard and disrespect of procedural authority and even a naivety in the face to the dollar and cents facts of the situation. The employee in turn could see the manager’s action as callous in difficult times and sabotaging of the ability to reach important objectives.

So how might this go differently? If the manager above were a more skillful communicator and was armed with the kind of knowledge that assessments can provide about employees she could have adapted her style to better communicate with her employee – putting the platinum rule in action. Tools like DISC assessments would have uncovered the manager and worker’s DISC styles and a tool like Motivation Insights could have revealed how each rated the six value categories in the spectrum of Workplace Motivators. The manager could have made the employee more involved in the decision and discussed how the best way to help most of the employees was by pursuing the overall goal of keeping the business alive – a goal which necessitated the cutback. The two could then move to a more productive conversation of how to adjust strategy and tactics under the changed circumstances. The improved communication changes the employee’s perception of the manager as an incompetent, uncaring, dictator who ignores business objectives into a new appraisal as a competent leader willing to make tough decisions for the overall good of the many.

We’ve discussed here how the same decision communicated differently could change the perception of competence. Adapting communication based on an understanding of workplace motivators, values, and DISC behavioral styles can go a long way toward improving office morale and trust within the company culture.

Behavioral Style Analysis – The Parent Trap

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

Often when I give lectures or training classes I’ll ask the parents in the room, “for those of you with more than one kid, at what age did you realize they didn’t act the same?” Usually they laugh and say they realized in the first few months, some even say they noticed the difference before the younger child was even born. I tell them, “see… you’re already practitioners of behavioral style observation.”

If you’re a parent it’s only natural, you’re going to become out of necessity a keen observer of your children’s behavior. Day after day of close inspection and interaction are bound to define your reflexes based on behavioral expectations: you figure out that your daughter is very detail-oriented in the way she carefully arranges her doll collection, or you note that your youngest son always seems to be directing his friends as to which game they’re going to play today. Or another parent realizes that his daughter always wants the same peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch every day, while his son never cares because he always swaps his lunch because he seems to be friends with every kid in school. Mothers and fathers get to put in lots of hours observing and comparing, but what they may not have is the vocabulary to identify that the girl with the super-organized dolls is a high C, the boy who is setting the playtime goals is a high D, the girl who likes to stick to the same routine for lunch everyday is a high S, or that the boy who knows every kid in school is a high I. Yet vocabulary aside, the parents clearly understand the differences that each child expresses through his or her actions, but without the blueprint of a structured approach to understanding behavior as provided by DISC profiles, they are in a disadvantaged position when handling collisions of behavioral style.

When the High I boy with tons of friends takes his sister’s PB&J sandwich to trade with his buddy who said he likes peanut butter, he’s just following his impulsive behavioral pattern of trying to please and influence, not realizing that he may be creating an avalanche of stress for his sister, the High S, who is now very distraught to have the reassuring stability of her expected sandwich being unexpectedly replaced by her brother’s turkey on wheat. Further, if the parent is unaware of his or her own behavioral style they may fall into a biased reaction to the incident. If the mother is also a High I, she might be led by her behavioral disposition to take the son’s side, while the High S father might see the issue as stress-inducing his daughter does.

The parental dilemma grows as the kids get older and are exposed to an increasing number of influences and experiences that are outside of the parent’s sphere of observation. Expectations set by past patterns of behavior may be jarringly disrupted by the emergence of behavioral shifts so often seen during the teen years. Here again, the trained DISC behaviorist has an advantage in deciphering the puzzle of disruption due to inconsistent behavior. Proper DISC profiling examines and charts both natural and adapted behavioral profiles – shifting environments and peer dynamics are as likely to cause behavioral adaptations as any stressful office – understanding modifications of behavior and the gap between natural and adapted styles can give the experienced behavioral strategist data points for understanding that a typical parent wouldn’t have at their disposal.

On the other hand teenagers are just weird :)

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