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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.

Good DISC vs Bad DISC

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

In his upcoming book on DISC practice, The World According to DISC, Arthur G. Schoeck, founder and CEO of Data Dome, Inc., offers answers to the question, “Are all DISC tools created equal?”

All DISC behavioral assessments and related tools have their roots in the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston and therefore share a common foundation. Most DISC systems in use today are provided by a handful of companies, DISC publishers, whose businesses cultivate certified DISC experts who then resell the assessment tools to corporations for use in consultative work on various people problems faced by organizations. Despite the shared origin and similarities of business models it is an uneven field in regards to quality of assessments and reports as well as training and certification of practitioners. In short, although all DISC shares common roots and principles, no, not all DISC is created equal.

The Basics
To understand what makes some tools better than others, let’s review some basics. DISC is based on four behavioral factors: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. A person may score high or low in each of these four areas. The high scores tend to get the most attention, but good DISC practice recognizes that an intense low score is just as indicative of behavioral traits as is an equally intense high score.

Understanding Intensity and Precision
What DISC tools measure the intensity of each of the four behaviors and then correlate the results with a corresponding report. Some DISC systems provide for more gradations in the intensity in each category, some provide a larger number of report variations – and the range of this number of reports is surprisingly broad: some DISC publishers provide tools capable of generating as few as 12 reports, while one offers tools that match behaviors to hundreds of possible profile reports.

Even Great Tools Need Skillful Operators
People typically exhibit greater intensity in one of the four DISC areas, however it is a mistake to ignore the measures in the other three categories. It is also a mistake to oversimplify the process: Using a refined DISC system with hundreds of report variations still requires the facilitator to be skilled in properly debriefing and interviewing the participant to assure accuracy in the information provided. Even a good DISC system will yield mediocre results if the DISC practitioner is simply taking the report at face value without verifying accuracy with the participant.

Simplification and Vagueness
There are incentives for DISC publishers to pursue systems that involve a smaller number of different reports. Less variations to manage means training is easier, but simplification brings vagueness. Using a tool that can only categorize to a dozen or so reports encourages vagueness similar to a newspaper horoscope – it may provide answers that on the surface seem satisfactory, but in the end don’t hold up well in terms of providing practical, actionable insights.

Establishing Context for Better Results
DISC training to be effective must stress objectivity in its application. In many cases simply identifying the DISC profile of a given subject is not enough; measuring and understanding the behavioral context that predicts success for a given role or application is also needed. Too often a manager’s personal biases (or a consultant’s) will color the decision and favor either behavioral attributes which are similar to their own, or conform to some (false) idealized profile, which may have little to do with the actual behavioral patterns needed to succeed in a specific job.

Going Natural, or the Importance of Adapted Behavior
Natural behavior can be thought of as an individual’s default style, whereas Adapted behavior is the behavior they exhibit in response to the environment or workplace. Some DISC publishers offer reports that merge this information into a single approximate diagram. Others ignore the difference altogether and simply present a single graph, yet large shifts between a person’s Natural and Adapted behavior styles can indicate stresses, energy drain and anxiety caused by something in the work situation. Since the Natural style typically changes little over time and the Adapted style is very responsive to situational changes these are often important clues to diagnosing problems and recommending solutions. Bad DISC systems offer broad brush reports that appear less complex because merged data means fewer diagrams, but these fail to provide effective actionable data.

For the full Good DISC vs. Bad DISC article and a list of questions you should ask before selecting a DISC provider, visit
http://datadome.com/res_wp_gooddiscbaddisc.php

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.

Behavioral Style Analysis – The Parent Trap – Part 2: The Parents

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Last post we discussed how behavioral style analysis is an instinctive part of parenting – at least the observational skill, if not the vocabulary and structure. In the discussion we mentioned that the parent’s own behavior profile can indicate a tendency to “side” with one child over another if that child’s communication preferences are driven by a similar behavior style as the parent’s style. It is important to realize that behaviors are not necessarily inherited. Just because Mom is a High D, doesn’t mean that her kids will share that behavioral emphasis.

A parent’s style might match one child, but not another. On the one hand this similarity might make for a strong bond of empathy with the one child, but on the other hand could lead to behavior-based communication problems with the other. Stress will induce different communication issues among people with differing DISC profiles, regardless of whether the relationship is between parent and child, siblings, or among co-workers.

What if the parent’s DISC behavior differs from all the children? Imagine a High C father with a High D daughter and one son who is a high S and another who is a high I. The father values credibility, procedures and attention to detail, the daughter is bold and authoritative, one son is gregarious and demonstrative, the other is passive, but resistant to change. So what happens when each of these kids breaks their curfew? The father is irate because of the disobedience and disrespect for established rules, He’s perhaps overly critical of the excuses: well not in the daughter’s case because as a High D she offers no excuses – simply states what her objectives in staying out late were and has difficulty understanding why they are an issue. The High I son stayed out late to curry favor with his friends, he’s extremely apologetic and willing to make amends with his father, because that’s who he is in front of right now, but he is likely to bend to the peer pressure again should the occasion arise. The High S son on the other hand probably only stayed out past curfew because of some unusual stress or necessity – it’s not in his nature to break routine – his father’s frustration is only compounding an already distressed state.

Of course this is a hypothetical scenario, but the point is that for all of us, behavioral patterns can lead to very different perspectives on a given situation. Parents that are aware of this can provide guidance that is aligned with the child’s behavior instead of carrying an expectation based on the parent’s own DISC profile. By recognizing the daughter’s competitiveness and boldness, the one son’s political behavior, and the other’s tendency to be non-demonstrative, he will be on the path to attaining the insight to temper his initial over-critical response with one adapted to each child’s individual DISC style.

DISC Assessments and Attitude: It’s a profile, not an excuse.

Friday, July 9th, 2010

When you start talking about DISC assessments and DISC behavioral styles it is inevitable that you end up in the land of adjectives: The high D – Active, Direct, Forceful; the high I – Fast-Paced, Emotional, Impulsive; the high S – Agreeable, Cooperative, Friendly; and the high C- Thoughtful, Careful, Thorough. Add a little stress to the mix and some new adjectives from the DISC profile step to the front of the line: D – Impatient; I – Disorganized; S – Possessive; and C – Overly Critical. These words, when included in a DISC profile, are intended to be useful and cautionary – guides, if you will, for gaining insight into your own behaviors and the necessary data to intentionally adapt behavior for improved communication, team building and performance. Yet sometimes these words can be misused as an excuse, a convenient crutch to sidestep taking responsibility for the outcome of behavior. There is a world of difference in the statements “I’m a low C, so I should team with someone who can help me stay organized” and “I’m a low C, so don’t expect me to be organized.” That difference is in the attitude.

Understanding behavioral style via a DISC assessment is tremendously valuable, yet it is still an incomplete predictor of an individual’s impact on a team or success in a position. Going beyond the DISC profile by gauging awareness and attitudes provides vital insight into that individual’s effectiveness and willingness to change – especially when confronted with a behavior that is causing (or caused by) a negative issue. It can make the difference between a team full of “My way, or the highway” dysfunction or a team that embraces the platinum rule: behave unto others in the style that suits them, even if it isn’t the style that naturally comes to you. DISC assessments make you aware of your own behavioral tendencies so when you recognize the styles of others you can behave with intention: more productively and harmoniously.

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