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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.

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