Archives for November 2011

Why DISC Dosen’t Work for Employee Screening.

First of all, DISC has been around a long, long time. While the acronym DISC was adopted sometime in the mid-twentieth century, the four-style behavioral model was first described by Hippocrates somewhere around 400 B.C. If longevity has anything to do with credibility, the DISC assessment certainly has time on its side and centuries of endorsement.

Another reason is that DISC is also one of the most user-friendly assessments available. Most DISC assessments require only 10 to 15 minutes to complete, the questions are very easy to understand, and face validity (which means the participant agrees with the results of the assessment) is extremely high. And while fees vary widely, the cost is generally below $100, often times significantly less. 

By now, it should be fairly obvious why DISC is so popular – user-friendly, high credibility, low-cost. All those reasons sound pretty good, don’t they? Then why am I saying that DISC doesn’t work for screening employees?

There are many reasons. Let me start with three.

1.Validation. This reason is a big one- one that concerns HR and employment law attorneys. While the DISC assessment itself is valid (it accurately measures what it says it measures), DISC is not a valid tool for job success. If that was the case, every assertive, outgoing individual would be a successful salesperson and every steady, compliant person would turn out to be a very successful accountant. But we know for sure that’s not the case. DISC merely assesses HOW energetically an individual will respond toward problems, people, pace, and procedures. It was not constructed to predict how proficient that same person might be at solving problems, interacting with people, working at a fast pace, or complying with rules and procedures.

2.Observation. DISC is an “observable language.” Each style (D-I-S-C) is easily observed by others when the other person(s) know what to look for. Ds and Is tend to be very animated; Ss and Cs more reserved. Is and Ss are more people-oriented; Ds and Cs are task focused. Is and Ss should be “good with people.” But we know that isn’t always so. People make assumptions about performance based on behavioral style. But as the research about hiring success shows, the behavior you see might not be a predictor of the results you get. Five-factor personality tests and cognitive ability tests are much better predictors of future job fit and skill potential than behavior style assessments like DISC and temperament assessments like MBTI. And that’s not only my opinion but the caveat offered by many of the DISC and MBTI publishers.

3.Norming. DISC assessments are considered ipsative tests. The preferred type of test for hiring is a normed test. Like hundreds of other assessments based on the four style behavioral model, DISC reports the relative strengths of the person being tested. If a DISC assessment reports the individual is 75% “high D”, this merely means this individual is energized by asserting him/herself in dealing with problems. What it does not predict is how two people with similar DISC patterns will perform a job or interact with others. In plain English, two people who both “score” 70% in the D Style might appear to approach the same problem in a similar way but get two entirely different outcomes. Using normative tests, an individual’s “score” measures a specific characteristic against confirmed patterns of normality, usually represented as a bell curve. In business, normative testing allows individuals to be compared to other employees who have met with success or failure in a job.

Normative tests (like PeopleClues, Prevue, and Assess) are therefore best suited as a recruitment and selection instrument. They can be also useful in developmental, coaching and training. By using normative tests when screening employees, managers can select candidates who will have the best chances of success if hired or promoted and avoid placing the wrong employee in the wrong position.

Note: I do recommend on occasion using DISC for employee screening and selection. While I mentioned DISC is not a good predictor job skills, it is a powerful assessment for predicting HOW a candidate will interact with other people and approach a project. By using DISC in conjunction wth five factor personality tests, managers can predict both job fit and team (people) fit with accuracy. When selecting the right pre-employment test for your organization, the best choice is not a case of either-or. If DISC is used for hiring employees, use it in conjunction with other hiring tools…or not at all.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.


The Loss of jobs vs. The Loss of Jobs

Depending on your frame of reference, asking the question “can the U.S. survive without Jobs?” will elicit a variety of responses. Responses will inevitably be influenced by political affiliation but my question is much broader than that. Because jobs refer to both sluggish job creation and the tragic loss of Steve Jobs.

Both circumstances pose an ominous threat to our role as leader of the free world. Solutions to replace the innovative genius of Jobs and jump start sustainable job creation will remain elusive for some time to come.

Let me start with Steve Jobs. Jobs changed our lives forever, much like Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney. Jobs didn’t invent the personal computer, the mouse, or the graphical user interface (GUI). What he did brilliantly, according to a column in the Washington Times, was to bring the inventions of others together in beautifully designed packages, then to show us that we’d wanted them desperately all along.

While Jobs like Edison, Ford, or Disney can’t claim to be the father or the originator of the industry they are in, they have a claim on how they changed their respective industries forever.

America is now desperately seeking the next American visionary. By definition, it’s someone on the cusp of an entirely new industry with an as-yet unrealized potential to change the culture. Like Jobs, the next innovative genius will have a “disruptive” quality, believing that constant change is the only way to stay out in front. Like Jobs and his predecessors, the next visionary will create a new market, lead the market, and let companies follow behind. Who is out there among us that we currently see as the idealist or crackpot who will ultimately breakthrough and radically change the way people live.

Regrettably the landscape in which Edison, Ford, Disney, and Jobs turned their vision into reality has turned sour. All these men started small working against all odds, often alone. Entrepreneurship and small business in their day was not only supported but encouraged. Government – local, state, and federal – provided incentives to start up a business, not a bureaucratic labyrinth that was all but impossible to navigate. And if a small business entrepreneur was successful, taxes and other regulations didn’t bleed the entrepreneurial spirit dry. Not only is the U.S.climate not conducive to starting a business and taking risk, we now have competition from rising entrepreneurial juggernauts China and India.

Jobs will be remembered both for the life-changing products he created and for the fact that he was able to sit down, think clearly, and execute his ideas. Given the current political climate and global economic challenge, we are desperately in need of jobs and Jobs. Unfortunately, you just can’t create a committee and select his replacement and the U.S. landscape is becoming repressive and oppressive for small business, entrepreneurshp and innovation. People like Jobs aren’t looking for a job. They are not even pursuing a career. What they seek is a world different than nearly all of us can even imagine. And they will go to places where they are free to innovate and transform ideas into reality.

Right now the loss of Jobs and the loss of jobs go hand in hand. Without innovation that sparks new business and entrepreneurship that creates jobs, unemployment will remain high, GDP will languish, and our economy will be sluggish.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.