What DISC Can Tell You About Employees Who Bend the Rules vs. Live Life By The Book.

Hiring ManagerWhat makes some people slow down on yellow while others speed up? So why is it that so many people wait until the last minute when they know the deadline won’t pass and the penalties are stiff for ignoring it? And why do some people try to beat the red light while others cautiously slow down?

One answer lies in DISC behavioral styles. A very popular profile test uses the letters D-I-S-C to describe four different styles, or individual preferences. The “C” represents one style and it describes the behavior of people who are energized with “complying” by rules set by other people vs those who prefer to write their own rules.

As individuals energized by Compliance tend to file taxes early and slow down on yellow, low C individuals tend to demonstrate their independence by challenging the deadline (and the light) and testing the rules. The low “C” may file a tax extension even if they are owed money while the high “C” may file early when they owe the government money. Regardless if an individual is high “C” or low “C,” the job may get done – each individual will just do it differently according to their preferred DISC style.

How does the high C/low C scenario play out at work?

Let’s say an office meeting is scheduled for 8:00 AM. High C people set their alarm a few minutes early on the day of the meeting – just in case the traffic is bad. In fact, they may set two alarms. You never know when you might sleep through the first one. They arrive in the office fifteen minutes early. They are usually the first to arrive. They make the coffee and clean up the counter, fill their coffee cups and are in their seats waiting for the others to arrive at least five minutes before the top of the hour.

Middle or situational Cs also may set their alarms early. But hitting the snooze button one time won’t hurt. In fact, they might have even set the clock a few minutes fast just to fake themselves out. They leave their home fifteen minutes before 8:00 AM. Of course it takes twelve minutes on a good day to get to work on time. On this day, they arrive just a minute or two early but stop off in the break room to re-fill their coffee cups before joining the meeting. They enter the meeting room “around 8” to the chagrin of the high Cs who were ready to begin promptly at eight.

The meeting begins. Noticeably missing are a few key employees. These empty seats of course belong to low Cs. These individuals had all intentions of leaving home early and being on time. Unfortunately, they woke up just a few minutes late after hitting the snooze one too many times. Then they forgot it was garbage day. The dog needed to be walked – and of course, Fido decided to take a long walk this day. And where oh where did those car keys go? Finally they arrive at the meeting at 8:23. Hey, what’s twenty minutes or so when the real discussion doesn’t ever start right away. “Sorry I’m late”, they say and then go on to describe why they are late this time. You can just picture the glares and disgust directed at them from the high Cs.

Each style can write its own workplace scenario. By understanding the DISC model employers and employees alike can understand how different approaches to solving problems, interacting with people, responding to the pace of the environment, and complying with procedures impact individual and team performance. CriteriaOne DISC is a simple tool that gets big results.

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.

4 Lessons Employers Can Learn From The Hiring and Firing of Ann Curry

DISC Personality and Behavior Assessment ProfileAnn Curry’s dismissal from the “Today” show epitomizes what goes wrong when an employer hires or promotes the wrong person into a job.

Curry was co-host with Matt Lauer for the past year. Formerly she was the show’s news anchor. Her parting words were “I’m sorry I couldn’t carry the ball over the finish line but, man, did I try.”

And that football analogy, along the lines of “get one for the Gipper” attitude, is the first mistake many managers make in recommending a hard-working, personable, dedicated employee for a job he or she is not suited.

What management failed to recognize or give enough credence to was team chemistry. With her recent predecessors Katie Couric and Meredith Vieira, the show rose to be number one in its class. Couric and Vieira had great chemistry with Lauer and supporting cast members like Curry. But being the catalyst for great chemistry and being an ingredient are worlds apart in the world of employee selection. It’s the difference between inspirational leaders and cheerleaders. Many leaders are great cheerleaders but the same can’t be said for the reverse.

It wasn’t that Curry lacked the skills for the job. She’s smart, empathetic, and likeable. In fact, her credentials from “60 Minutes” and “The View” deemed her worthy of promotion after Couric left several years ago. She was passed over for Vieira. But Vieira’s departure opened the door again and management apparently felt Curry deserved a chance.

But good job fit isn’t something employers want to leave to chance. Hiring or promoting the right employee entails so much more than just the ability and knowledge to do the job. Hiring the right employee requires fit with the team and culture too.

I’ll guess and give Curry an “A” for culture fit. But her team fit was just ok – maybe a C+/B-. It wasn’t that she wasn’t a good team player – from all accounts she was. But the chemistry between her and Lauer was never the same as her predecessors. Ignoring that chemistry during the employee selection process – or thinking time would allow it to work out – doomed Curry and knocked the “Today” show out of the number one slot after 852 weeks of beating “Good Morning America.”

Taking good team fit to greatness is what the “Today” show needed to stay on top. Management erred in thinking that Vieira’s departure left just another slot to fill. Curry ably filled the slot but the chemistry her predecessors developed was lost. Going back to Curry’s football analogy, one super-star doesn’t make a great team unless there is chemistry. That’s why an average player on one team becomes the standout on another. And the arrogant superstar who jumps ship for more money may languish in mediocrity on another team.

Don’t forget timing and the competition too. Just a few years ago, NBC might have retained its number one position compared to what was happening on the rival networks. But Good Morning America stepped up its game and was in the right position at the right time.

In hindsight, promoting Curry into the co-host position wasn’t a terrible decision. It is repeated many thousands of times each day in companies around the country – reward and promote the most deserving employee from within the company without giving good team chemistry the priority it deserves. The decision just wasn’t the right one and could have been avoided.

What lessons can employers learn from Curry’s rise and fall:

1. Longevity and loyalty and even individual skills are not a guarantee for success in future roles.

2. Team fit is more than filling a slot with a qualified worker; it is chemistry among and between each team member that converts a team from good to great.

3. Don’t rest on your laurels. What got you to number one and worked in the past might not be good enough as markets and competitors constantly change.

4. Assessing good team chemistry is an art and science. The art aspect inherently throws accurate assessment a curve ball. But an integrated approach to employment testing can help remove a lot of the guesswork and provide employers a much better chance of hiring employees who can do the job and elevate the team.

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.

DISCover How To Get People to Listen To You

DISC Personality ModelWhen people communicate face to face, they deliver messages on three channels. You need to listen to all 3 channels if you want to hear what the other person is saying. Likewise, if you want to gain the attention of others, you must be able to identify and tune into the right channel of your audience.

What are these three channels?

Verbal – words. Most people believe it is the words you use that differentiate good from bad communication. While important, the words used are only one channel. In fact, some research says that less than 10 percent of effective communication is driven by the words you use. A majority of people tune you out and never hear your words when you don’t first broadcast your message on the right channel.

Visual – body language. This is the most popular channel, especially in face-to-face communication. Body language is reported to determine nearly 60 percent of effective communication. Your posture, your facial expressions, your eye contact all determine how quickly another person will turn you off or engage with you. Body language also impacts non-face-to-face communication too. Just because your target can’t see you doesn’t mean he or she can’t “hear” the effect of your posture and facial expressions.

Vocal – how you say it. This is the second most popular channel, especially with so many people communicating long distance and telecommuting these days. Loud and soft, fast and slow speech all impact the impression you make on others and how likely they will want to listen to what you have to say. The vocal channel determines approximately one-third of effective communication.

Which channel is most important? That’s a great question and the answer depends on the channel that the customer uses. How can you determine quickly the preferred channel of your listeners?

If effective communication is broadcast on three channels of Visual, Vocal, and Verbal, then CriteriaOne DISC is the TV Guide. Each behavioral style has its communication preferences. By understanding the DISC model, presenters can quickly assess their audience and tune into the appropriate visual, vocal, and verbal channels so the intended listener tunes in and stays tuned.

For an example of how all this DISC stuff works, follow this link. Dr. Tony Alessandra does a great job of demonstrating how Visual, Vocal, and Verbal channels can change the meaning of even the simple word “oh.”

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.

 

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.

 

Personal Styles That Bias Performance Reviews.

Performance reviews, one of the most dreaded managerial responsibilities, are difficult enough to do without personal bias getting in the way. What follows are highlights about how your personal style, identified using the DISC behavioral model, might get in the way of effectively managing your employees.

DISC Personality and Behavior Assessment Profile

“D”s prefer to evaluate others by how well they meet the standards and challenges set forth by the “D.” The amount of work accomplished by others must meet the “D’s” expectations. They tend to set demanding standards for themselves and will seek out who do likewise. However, they will become impatient when employees don’t do what was expected and even more competitive when people surpass them. They tend to set stretch goals. When an employee isn’t doing well, high “D”s don’t have much problem relaying bad news and discipline. But their sometimes abrupt, just-get-it-over-with behavior comes off as confrontational, more than constructive feedback, even when what they had to say needed to be said. You’ll often hear others say, “I agree with what he said, but not how he said it.” Some high “D”s may even send a memo or email telling an employee they’re not pulling their weight or even that they’re fired. Positive perfomance evaluations are based on results, not the details. Coaching will be limited to “just go do it and keep me posted.”

“I”s tend to evaluate other by how well they verabilze feeling. They see performance reviews more as a time to look talk about doing better than a time to confront underperformance. High “I”s prefer a face to face meeting, often times in a casual setting. They may even schedule a difficult meeting over lunch. Telling an employee bad news is extremely difficult for the high “I”; they may tend to beat around the bush before telling an employee what needs to be said. High “I”s tend to set optimistic goals, even unrealistic, because it never hurts to dream. While other high “I”s might enjoy their cordial presentation and letting under-performing employees down easy, other behavioral styles will likely be thinking, “why don’t you just say it and stop talking already?” High “I”s are great coaches if you believe inspiration and motivation can change behavior. But most coaching sessions will be more talk than action, with the coach doing most of the talking.

If any style is challenged by performance reviews, it’s the high “S”. Performance reviews are truly times to acknowledge contributions of the employee and identify areas of improvement. High “S”s will likely be the most lenient managers. They prefer stability to change. Discplining or terminating an employee is very stressful and requires change if the employee leaves or needs to be replaced. The high “S” may not sleep well the night before an evaluation and is especially drained after the meeting. They will bend over backwards to accomodate under-performance, and hope the employee will quit before they have to confront them. High “S”s tend to set realistic goals – why set goals you can’t reach, it’s risky, confrontational and demoralizing. High “S”s are the very best listeners and natural coaches of all the styles.

For the high “C”, performance evaluations are rather “matter of fact.” Their reviews are well-documented, detailed, and critical but objective. Results, accuracy, and cognition get high ratings. If the top rating is a 5 for outstanding performance, high “C”s rarely give higher than a “4” – “there is always room for improvement”, they think. Goals are specific and measurable with exact milestones. They will be realistic and at least in the high “C”s mind, attainable. High “C”s set a very high standard and how you reach your goals is just as important as getting the result. Ongoing feedback will be rare but when provided, the high “C” will consider it constructive. Unfortunately the recipients might perceive it as critical

Understanding how your personal style might bias your judgment of employee behavior begins with a DISC self-assessment. For more information about the DISC personality test profile, click here.

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.