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middle curve

Posts Tagged ‘motivators’

Good listening: Listen up! It’s more complex than you knew.

Friday, July 6th, 2012

“Well if you would only listen…” “You never listen to me.” “I told you, but obviously you weren’t listening.”

Ah, listening. It seems like such a simple thing to do, but how often have you heard (or said) complaints like those above? Maybe good listening isn’t so simple after all.

So what makes good listening so complex?

If we look to behavioral styles we can find some clues. Observing behaviors through the lens of DISC helps us see that those who exhibit certain styles are demonstrating patterns that can predict how they listen. Many articles like this one on good listening, “How to be a Good Listener”, frame the advice in terms of modifying the behavior to be more effective.

Let’s look at the core styles in the context of effective listening:

High D‘s are oriented around achieving results, and are not shy about making fast decisions or bringing pressure to bear on a situation. If a conversation does not support the high D’s current agenda then that person may lose interest in the conversation. Being forceful by nature the high D is not hesitant to interrupt or walk away when someone is speaking to them. Their observed behavior prioritizes problem solving over social considerations so unless their D is accompanied by a fairly high I don’t expect the high D to be a patient listener. If you want to keep the high D’s attention make your message short, and to the point. Think bullet points, not back-story.

The high I is typically observed to be talkative, but does a talker make a good listener? Not usually. The high I individual is usually counted among the worst listeners. High I’s tend to seek out a lot of verbal interaction, but their focus tends to be more on the appearance they are making, and their social status rather than paying attention to the content of a conversation. When not the one speaking, the classic high I spends the majority of their time thinking of what they are going to say rather than focusing on and considering what is being said to them. A high I with a low S will be talkative and restless in a conversation – they’ll flit around a cocktail party or networking reception making small talk with everyone, but never sticking around in one conversation long enough to absorb much of the conversation because they’re always spotting someone else they “have to say hello to”.

A low S exacerbates the high I’s weak listening ability, but what kind of a listener is a high S? The high S demonstrates behavior that supports good listening: they tend to avoid confrontation, so they are unlikely to interrupt a speaker; they prefer things to move at a slower, steadier pace, and are reticent to upset the status quo – which means you will seldom see a high S walking away from someone who is in the middle of telling a story (no matter how much that story may go on and on). The high S observes, but doesn’t tend to reveal what they have in mind so their focus tends to be on what the other person is saying rather than emulating the high I’s tendency to be thinking up the next interesting thing to say.

Last but not least we have the high C. If high S’s make the best listeners then high C’s are the second best among the core DISC styles. The high C is process-oriented and attentive to detail. A high C makes use of conversations as a form of information gathering. They are very attentive to details revealed in even a casual discussion and will feel compelled to correct any errors made by the person speaking. These could be errors in facts or grammar, but the net result is that the high C can be perceived as snobby for this behavior. The C applies structure to the act of listening, observing rules of politeness and formality, even parliamentary procedure in a group setting. A high C with a fairly high D may interrupt you, but not because of disinterest, they just may feel they have a more efficient way of harvesting the information in the conversation and may tend to turn a chat into a mild interrogation.

Of course other combinations of DISC behavior scores will reveal more complex listening styles, as well as the individual’s preferences for ways of communicating verbally. A high C will prefer to listen to another high C because of the shared affinity for structured presentation and accurate information. One high I may not be listening to the high I that is speaking to them, but they are together more at ease feeding off of each other’s enthusiasm and energy than that same high I might feel in a discussion with a high S.

Going beyond observable behaviors, values and motivators add more complexity to the art of effective listening. If a listener’s values are similar to those of the speaker, then they will be naturally more interested and likely to listen. If they have opposing values, the listener will have a natural tendency to disregard what the speaker is saying. These tendencies may mitigate or aggravate the listening issues predicted by the behavioral styles of the people in question. Once again we find that the Golden Rule falls a bit short when it comes to communication. The effective communicator doesn’t speak to listeners in the manner that the communicator would like to hear, but rather adapts their communication to the listening style preferences of the audience.

To be a great listener able to traverse conversations with colleagues of multiple behavioral profiles and diverse motivations and values generally requires a high degree of emotional intelligence. The more emotionally mature individual may learn how to overcome poor listening skills by developing more empathy for others, and learning to recognize and adapt their behaviors to better suit the situation. They can then be far more effective at listening than one who has not matured yet and is highly self-centered.

Objective assessments give us the ability to measure all of these factors and can be tremendously valuable in predicting effective listening skills and identifying opportunities to coach individuals in improving this ability. For an example of a well-rounded assessment that can be useful in this manner see this sample report.

Hiring for Cultural Fit – Look Beyond the Résumé

Friday, May 6th, 2011

In a recent article in Fortune / author, Ethan Rouen, points out the importance (and challenges) of finding a cultural fit when hiring job candidates. We agree in general that attitudes, motivations and behaviors are highly important as predictors of a job candidate’s long term success in an organization, even more so in many cases than the surface description of skills and experience found in a typical résumé. However we feel that the author may not be aware of all the tools and best practices that have been developed to assist hiring managers in gathering data to make critical hiring decisions that encompass corporate values and cultural considerations.

The author refers to a source, Brian Kropp from Corporate Executive Board, as saying, “The use of psychometric tests to gauge a candidate’s fit continues to increase in popularity, especially in Europe, Kropp says. These tests are a somewhat more scientific way to measure something that is, in reality, immeasurable.” This statement seems somewhat contradictory and unintentionally misleading: there exists many tools backed by scientific study and years of field usage that are able to measure and provide profile data for such diverse concepts as behavioral styles, attitudes, and motivators. Although there is no single assessment that encompasses such a broad concept as culture, the use of multiple assessments can provide reliable data to make far more informed decisions regarding the cultural fit of a given individual.

The source, Kropp, also points out that “some companies are providing detailed information about the company and its culture in the postings” in an effort to provide the information required for a job candidate to self-select on cultural fit. The author makes the point that some candidates will try for a job even though they know they are not a cultural fit. This certainly correlates with findings such as those from executive recruiters Christian & Timbers, which found in a survey of 7000 résumés that 23% of executives misrepresented their accomplishments. However, we think it is also important to note that without the use of any objective tools to measure these factors, a candidate may simply not know whether they are a fit or not, and that there may also be times that the company is the one providing an unrealistic portrait of their actual culture due to either lack of true understanding or a deliberate attempt to paint a rosier picture of the working environment in the hopes of attracting better candidates (or indeed a blend of both of the above).

Perhaps the most troubling point in the article is again made by way of a quote from Mr. Kropp, “‘The best way is not to test,’ Kropp says. ‘Like people like to spend time with like people. That is where networks come in.'” This can actually be a dangerous approach for companies to take. In fact, we consider it to be the #1 hiring mistake due to an increased likelihood of creating unbalanced teams. For organizations to thrive they require a diverse set of skills and behaviors. While some cultural consistency may indeed come from a network-sourced approach, this must be counter-balanced by objective measurement and strategic selection to make sure that the behaviors and attitudes needed to get the needed work done haven’t been glossed over in an effort to simply find people who get along. As an example an employee tasked with recruiting from her network, who also happens to be a people-pleaser by nature, might be overly biased toward other individuals who share her people-pleasing habit. This might seem innocuous at first, however, it could lead to a misfit if the position to be filled is in fact better suited to a candidate with, for example, a less people-pleasing disposition and a higher emphasis on compliance such as a role that involves enforcement of rules and procedures even if that sometimes means making unpopular decisions.

At Data Dome we do believe highly in the importance of looking beyond the résumé data to more deeply understand the attitudes and motivators that are vital to success, however we disagree strongly with the notion that testing is unable to provide vital information for making hiring choices, not when objective and well-respected tools are available to take guesswork out of the selection process. Using these tools and approaches we’ve reduced turnover in some positions by as much as 75%, and turnover costs are just the tip of the iceberg: companies can suffer profoundly from the hidden costs of eroding morale, miscommunication, and poor productivity that can fester in these situations. Assessments, when used properly, have proven their effectiveness and dependability in matching candidates for lasting organizational fits. Studies have shown assessments to be 4 times as effective as information derived from the interview process, which is typically only between 12% and 20% useful:

“Most people are still hired on the basis of an interview alone. Statistics prove that decisions based on interviews alone are accurate only 14% of the time. That means we have the chance to be wrong 86% of the time in the hiring of top performing individuals.” Michigan State University Study, John Hunter and Rhonda Hunter, “Validity and Utility of Alternative Predictors of Job Performance”, Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 96, No. 1, 1984, p. 90 (links to pdf)

Building a hiring strategy based not just on pre-employment selection, but also developing a foundation of understanding behaviors, motivators and attitudes throughout an organization will reap substantial long term benefits in reduced turnover costs, stronger team development, increased morale and overall productivity.

Motivators – Quick Takes: Bookmarking for Values

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Understanding how people prioritize their values can help in understanding how they make their choices. Just as we do with our World According to DISC series, we like to find ways to demonstrate Workplace Motivators in action. without taking ourselves too seriously. With that in mind let’s take a look at the bookmarks stored in six people’s web browsers….

Theodore the high Theoretical seeks truth and knowledge:
wikiHow – The How-to Manual That You Can Edit
MIT Enterprise Forum
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Science News
National Geographic

Ursula the high Utilitarian/Economic saves time and money:
Mint – Free Personal Finance Software, Budget Software, Online Money Management and Budget Planner | | Scheduling Made Easy
43 Folders | Time, Attention, and Creative Work
Lifehacker, tips and downloads for getting things done
Clark Howard: Save More, Spend Less and Avoid Rip-offs |

Alvin the high Aesthetic pursues form, harmony and beauty:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Beautiful Pixels : Unhealthy lust for UI design
Fashion net | the insider's guide to all things chic
DailyCandy is a handpicked selection of all that’s fun, fashionable, food related, and culturally stimulating
Fashion – Women's Fashion Magazine

Samantha the high Social loves people and wants to help:
Evite – Invitations, Free eCards and Party Planning Ideas
Care2 – largest online community for healthy and green living, human rights and animal welfare.

Ivan the high Individualistic/Political seeks power, independence and personal gain:
Entrepreneur – Business & Small Business
Robb Report – The Global Luxury Source – Where ideas and people meet | Fast Company
Business News & Financial News – The Wall Street Journal –
tompeters! management consulting leadership training development project management

Tammy the high Traditional/Regulatory is firm in her convictions and wants unity and order: A searchable online Bible in over 100 versions and 50 languages.
YP.COM – Yellow Pages, the new YELLOWPAGES.COM
The Traditional Values Coalition ::: Empowering People of Faith through Knowledge
Knitty is the longest-running free knitting magazine on the web.
Constitution of the United States – Official Site

Did you follow the links? Are some of these in your bookmarks too? Remember, everyone has a mix of values and their priorities can change over time, but combined with understanding DISC profiles they can provide valuable insights for a more productive and harmonious workplace.

Merry Motivators – Holiday Shopping Edition

Monday, December 13th, 2010

While most of our posts here are focused on DISC profiles, DISC alone doesn’t give a complete picture. DISC tells us HOW a person will behave, but values and motivators are essential to understanding WHY they behave they way they do.

In the spirit of our World According to DISC series, let’s take a look at the spectrum of motivators and how they might influence holiday gift giving choices:

The high Theoretical values truth and knowledge, don’t be surprised if their kids find a junior science lab under the tree this year. Got a high Theoretical on your shopping list this year? Delight her with a statuette of Thoth, the Ibis-headed Egyptian god of knowledge or maybe the complete Oxford English Dictionary.

High Utilitarian/Economic people value money and time, things that are useful and practical. Be certain that they will be shopping for the best possible deal and the most efficient use of time. The high Utilitarian grandmother is giving all her grandchildren savings bonds this year getting the bulk of her holiday shopping done in one step. Are you shopping for a high Utilitarian? Consider getting him a membership to Costco or maybe just a nice thermos to carry coffee since he would never waste money at a place like Starbucks.

If you’re a high Aesthetic you are focused on form and harmony, beauty and inner vision. You might not know what you’ll be getting, but you can be sure that the gift from the high Aesthetic will be the most beautifully wrapped one in the bunch. If you’re looking for a great idea for a high Aesthetic consider a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or sign her up for a class in Feng Shui.

I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the high Social values people. Altruism, empathy and generosity are important to them. It wouldn’t be out of character for a high Social to make a charitable donation in your name. Want to make a high Social happy this season? Lend him a hand when he volunteers at the local soup kitchen’s holiday meal.

High Individualistic/Political types value power and often view others as a means to an end. The high Individualistic/Political might give his boss a new set of golf clubs and a lot of hints about being available for his next power foursome. Want to make a high Individualistic/Political happy? Give her a copy of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”.

Last, but not least we come to the high Traditional/Regulatory who values unity, order and structure. They are likely to be very fixed in their beliefs. Your high Traditional cousin will be going to midnight mass and after will fill his kids’ Christmas stockings with chocolates and candy canes just like he had when he was a kid. If you’re shopping for a high Traditional consider getting her a keepsake ornament for her tree, or, if appropriate for her religion, a finely printed and beautifully bound bible.

As we often do when discussing DISC profiles, we are here in these examples simplifying the motivational profiles to isolate on a single value category. In reality multiple values will be a factor and the lack of motivator in a specific category can also be highly indicative of a person’s priorities.

We hope this post gave you a little insight into the spectrum of values and motivators and maybe an idea or two as you finish up your holiday shopping.

Wishing you and yours a safe and happy holiday season!

Data Dome Quick Tip: DISC or Motivator?

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Understanding people is a subtle science. Even with great tools like DISC Profiles and Workplace Motivators at our disposal it is not uncommon for there to be confusion about what is a behavioral style versus what is driven by a motivator. Sometimes the symptoms can be very similar.

Let’s look at an example – Charlie and Margaret:

Both Charlie and Margaret appear to be fastidious about how they have arranged their offices – do they share the same DISC profile behavior? If something is moved out of place in either environment, it isn’t long before it is quickly put back exactly where it came from – are they operating with the same workplace motivator? Let’s examine further and see if we can find out: One day Charlie visits Margaret’s office. When he comes to the door she drops everything she’s currently doing to give him a friendly handshake, asks him to make himself comfortable and asks him about several people she knows from the floor where Charlie works. Despite Margaret’s friendly banter Charlie feels compelled to say to Margaret that she should move her desk so that her seat faces the door as it is proper procedure to first acknowledge a visitor at the door, then signal the person to enter and finally indicate which seat the visitor should take. Margaret takes the comment in stride and remarks how nice it was for him to stop by while he was on her floor.

On another day Margaret stops by Charlie’s office and finds him on the phone. He seems to be ignoring her until she knocks lightly on the open door. He then looks up, signals that he will be a moment, finishes his call, then asks her what business has brought her to his office today. Rather than focusing on his question she says that she thinks he should also rearrange his seating – his office has a beautiful view, but the way his desk is arranged his back is to the window and he can’t enjoy the vista.

What’s going on here? Because of the similar outcome regarding how carefully the offices are maintained, one might assume that both Charlie and Margaret share the same DISC style and the same motivator, but this is not the case. Charlie’s formality with his coworker is a clue that his DISC profile is that of a High C, he follows rules and procedures with rigidity and sees alternate arrangements of the office as breaking with decorum. Margaret, on the other hand, is a High I – her greeting is friendly, her conversational focus is on people and she is willing to drop everything she is doing to welcome Charlie when he arrives. Her reason for being fastidious about her office decor comes from responding to her dominant motivator, a High Aesthetic. She’s meticulously arranged her office in the way that most satisfies her artistic sensibility and responds to other environments accordingly. By contrast Charlie’s Aesthetic score is quite low, he has completely ignored the beautiful view in planning his office arrangement.

In this example opposing behavioral styles and motivations led to a similar expression. This is why gaining insights into both DISC behavior and Workplace Motivators is so valuable in bringing a greater clarity to interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. Often sources of friction and other detriments to productivity can be difficult to diagnose without looking at both behavior and motivations.

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.

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