Episode 9: DISC for the Win

One of the ways your business can become a champion is to provide feedback to your employees and find better ways to work together.

Episode 9: DISC for the Win

Visit discba.com or discbehavioralassessment.com to take your free behavioral assessment today.

Most businesses want to become champions. One of the ways business owners can do that is by providing feedback to employees and finding better ways to communicate and work together. One this episode, David goes over an overview of the DISC personality assessment and how business owners can use DISC during the hiring process and other parts of their business.

Show Notes

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Show Transcript


Hi. Welcome to another episode of The Buck Stops Here business podcast. I’m your host, David Maples, and today we’re going to talk about using the DISC behavioral assessment to improve your business. Or, what we like to say, DISC for the win. At Catapult, we like to say all the time that we build champions.



If you’re looking for somebody to be, kind of, a Mick in your corner, if you’re Rocky, training you to become a championship-level boxer, we’re those people. That’s what we do. Because ultimately, you need to be the hero of your own story, and most businesses want to become champions on their own. Now, one of the ways to do this is by providing feedback to your employees and finding better ways to work together. So, today I’m going to talk about the DISC behavioral assessment, which is a very popular assessment. It’s used in a lot of Fortune 100 companies.



In fact, a lot of companies across the country use some kind of behavioral or personality assessment to figure out how people can work together. Now, I’m going to talk about this because there’s a lot in this, okay? In this episode, we’re going to talk about what behavioral assessments, kind of, are, what they are and what they are not. How do they differ from personality assessments, go over, kind of, the DISC personality assessments, it’s history, kind of, how it came to be, explaining how you can use it and not. How the main descriptions of the different quadrants in the personality assessment and showing how business owners can try utilizing them in their business. That’s kind of the plan. We’re also going to do one of our no BS segments to talk about, kind of, the warning signs on how you do things and how you don’t do things using DISC.



And then we’re going to, of course, have our episode takeaways. So, for the beginning of this, I’m going to go ahead and do a plug. Catapult Creative Media, which is the company I work for, digital marketing firm, our programming team has actually built a DISC behavioral assessment that you can go take for free. And you can take it either for work or in your relationships. And this is one thing you won’t find a lot online – is that a lot of people don’t think about – is that a behavioral assessment, based on your environment, your results change.



So, if you go to discba.com or discbehavioralassessment.com, you can go take that. You can set up your own account where you can take as many times as you want so you can see how it changes for you over time. And currently, we have a work environment assessment as long- as well as a relationship environment assessment. So, DISC has been around for a long time.



It’s been around since the 1930s, and there are some caveats on this. You will find evidence online that people say things, and we’ll talk more about it on our no BS portion of the episode, people say they aren’t good. They are good. It’s the best thing ever, whatever it is. Again, your mileage might vary. I like to say that a lot. I believe having assessments that you use can be very useful in your business. However, there are major warning signs on that.



So, the first question we get a lot is, “What’s the difference between a behavioral assessment and a personality assessment?” You may have even heard this called the DISC personality assessment, which is completely incorrect. It is not a personality assessment per se. It is, how do your behaviors act, and how do you work with other people? There are really good ways that you can use DISC and using different things.



Now, you’ll also have some people who say it’s not empirically tested, et cetera. That’s because controls have not been established. William Marston originally came up with- and you may have known of him. He’s the guy who invented Wonder Woman, came up with a whole bunch of ideas. And even going back to the Greeks – The Four Temperaments and Types – the idea [of] dividing people into categories goes back thousands of years, because it helps us make decisions about people. You know, how do these people work together? And a lot of times, you’ll find people, kind of, broken into, kind of, four quadrants.



The difference is a personality assessment is, kind of, set in stone. A behavioral assessment in particular, too, based on a particular environment, you should get similar answers. However, you will find that your behaviors change based on the environment you’re in and based upon things that have happened in your life. If you just got a new baby, for example, and you’re spending a lot of time with that, you may find that you move into more a very action-oriented, focused thing because you have very limited time. So, don’t be surprised if your behaviors change.



It turns out that DISC, for most people, is very stable with your results over time. You’ll find that if nothing has really changed in your life that your results should be very similar based on how you’re doing things. And it turns out a lot of the testing- Our stuff has basically- it’s usually between about 87 and 91% the same results every time based on how you prime the questions or how you set up the assessment. So, you should have very similar things unless something has changed in your life. By the way, if something major has changed in your life, any of the big things, you know, divorce, marriage, birth of a child, major career move, you may find these things change a little bit.



Just be aware of that. And in business owners, too, realize that people’s behaviors change at different points of time in their life and how they’re doing it. So DISC kind of, breaks everything into four quadrants, and for those of you out there who have never taken a DISC assessment, go to discba.com or discbehavioralassessment.com and try it out today. Let us know what you think.



You can put that in the comments here below. If you think it’s crap, tell me so. I would appreciate that feedback, too. If you love it, share it with your friends and tell them about it. But here’s the thing to understand about it.



You may have seen this because William Marston, who originally came up with this concept, and then some people kind of- They never trademarked it. It’s kind of an open-source thing. It’s been around since the 1930s, and there’s a whole bunch of different flavors on it. There’s a lot of things you can pay for online to take them, and they give you very elaborate reports. Some are good, some are bad, some are trash, some are amazing.



I’m not here to promote any of those, per se. What I am trying to say is it’s not a bad place to start. You may have heard this – if you’ve ever gone to a personal training or consulting thing- you may have been told that you need to know what your gem is, your color, or what kind of bird you are. They’re all the same thing.



They’re just different ways of wrapping it up and explaining it to people. And I’ll kind of go through, kind of, what those are. So, basically, the four main quadrants are DISC – D-I-S-C. They stand for dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. And it turns out, most people kind of break down into these quadrants.



And, basically, when you take your assessment, you have a primary and a secondary quadrant. One thing that separates this from, kind of, the Myers-Briggs assessment is there’s not 16 quadrants to put people in. And it’s a little bit different than how that works. It turns out that Myers-Briggs, when it’s empirically analyzed, it’s not real predictive past four major quadrants. You know, if you’re the field marshal versus promoter, whatever they call it, doesn’t really matter.



Those things, kind of, when you break people into those subcategories – and ours even has a flavor of that, too, when you do that – what happens is you primarily have a primary and a secondary dimension. It does not mean you aren’t all these things at the same time. It’s just literally what shows up the most when you interact with others. So, let’s go through the four real quick and, kind of, how that works.



And, I’ll just use the birds as an example, or a colors one, and I don’t remember the gems one. It’s like diamond, pearl- it’s all made up. So, for example, the D category, dominance, is generally a very task-oriented behavior. It means you’re focused on tasks, and usually, it’s focused a lot on authority, control, getting things done.



It’s, kind of, how it works. In the color quadrant, I think this is a red, and then the bird quadrant, I think they call this an eagle. Okay? It’s just another way of doing the same thing. So, kind of, the dominance category behaviors work.



So, I’m going to use a networking event. Someone who has a high D, so if D is your dominant category – and you always have a secondary category – if D is your dominance category, if you go to a networking event, you’re usually motivated by other people of power or influence being there, and you want to go meet as many of those people as possible. And I’ll explain, kind of, how this works, of explaining behaviors and how you can use this to help influence actions of other people. Generally, these people care about the facts.



By the way, this doesn’t mean they don’t care about emotion or other things, but they care about the facts and getting things done. You want to motivate or inspire someone who has a main dominance quadrant, you, kind of, say, “Hey, you want to get this done? We’re going to make a million bucks, and you’ll be-” whatever. They care about control, power, authority as a rule.



It does not mean that they can’t do other things. It doesn’t mean that someone with a low D dimension isn’t also a very good executive or does these things. It just means that their other dimensions are higher. It’s all relative. So, the I influence, the I category.



The influence quadrant is, kind of, I think in the bird one it’s the peacock, I think it’s yellow on a color. It doesn’t really matter. So, kind of, the peacock is influence. A lot of times what you see is these people are, kind of, the life of the party. If they’re at a networking function, they have the group of people, and they’re making them all laugh and stand around them. They influence others.



They’re very charismatic, generally, and it’s kind of a people-oriented behavior. It’s very personal and very people-oriented. Totally a fine thing. Those people generally, if they’re going to a networking event, you inspire them to go to a networking event by telling them how much fun it will be.



“It’ll be a great environment. It’s this newest, cool place in town we need to go to.” The person who’s a D dimension, you motivate them to go to an outdoor event or something out there by saying the mayor is going to be there. Someone important is going to be there. Some captain of industry, she’s going to be there. And that’s totally cool, right? So, it just has to do with behaviors.



And, generally, these behaviors do associate themselves and, you know, people like this who are motivated this way. The next category is the S quadrant. It’s the Steadiness quadrant. Generally, most people fall into the Steadiness quadrant. According to most studies, about 60% of people, this is their primary dimension. And the Steadiness quadrant is someone who they care deeply about those interpersonal relationships.



Again, it’s a people-oriented quadrant. And I think in the Steadiness one, I think they’re called, I don’t want to get this wrong, but I think they’re doves. I think that’s doves. That’s what they do with the bird one. By the way, I don’t- I just stay with the original D-I-S-C because that’s, kind of, the standard.



I think, you know, once you anthropomorphize something and change it, you’re applying other factors to it that didn’t already exist. So, I think that’s the path of danger. So, I think changing it to a gem or a diamond, I do have problems with that from a business standpoint. I think you’ve added another layer of abstraction on this. It might be easier for people to remember, but you’ve moved beyond what that actually was because somebody might say, “Well, a dove, shouldn’t that be the conscientious person? The C’s?”



It’s one of those things. So, my point about this is that when you’re looking at these things and deciding how these work for you, just figure out, you know, go with the definition and stick to it. So, for us, we use the S. Steadiness quadrant; most people fit into this category.



If you want to motivate them to a networking event, they support others, and they’re kind of the glue that binds everyone together in most situations from a behavioral standpoint. They don’t necessarily like conflict or are sometimes conflict-averse. But they want to make sure everybody gets along.



So, if I want to motivate someone to go to a networking function with me, I say, “You know, look, I’m doing this. I’m a little nervous. You’re my best friend. Will you go with me and support me?” They’ll sign up immediately and say, “Ah! People-oriented? I’m a supporter. That’s what I do. I’ll go help you there. I’ll be your wingwoman or wingman.” That’s what they’ll do with you. Totally a neat thing. It’s a good way to do it.



And helping know this helps you understand how to influence others and how to possibly talk to them in the language they best understand. This is a lot about communication, and I’ll hit on that in a minute when we go through how business owners can utilize this. The last of the four major quadrants is the C quadrant. A lot of people call this the Conscientious quadrant. I’ve heard people call this the Calculator quadrant.



I think that’s a little bit of a derogatory type thing. These people tend to be conscientious. They look at every data point before they make a decision. They typically are very task-oriented. They say, “Okay, how does this work for me, and how do I work with other people in this? Do I have all my data points, et cetera?”



And what’s important is that’s how they do things. They typically don’t like to make mistakes. Someone with a very high C dimension, maybe, you may say that they are a perfectionist.



They just don’t like to make errors, and they will double-check their work. Whereas somebody who has a high I dimension, typically, double-checking the work is secondary to having a good time and influencing others. So, is that a problem? Is there anything wrong with that? No, they’re different roles, and you’ll start to see, as I’m explaining this, how this kind of influences people in business.



If someone has a high C dimension, typically, it’s more aligned with kind of an introversion type factor. So, the D’s and the I’s are more extroverted type factors. It tends to. It does not mean you can’t be an introvert and a very capable executive who has a very high D dimension. It just tends to. They’re more correlated. It does not mean that that’s the way it works.



And that’s one reason why, in particular, that the behavioral assessments for me are really interesting. Because sometimes, after an interview, I like to do this and see if that lines up with what I’ve thought about them. One of the things I’m trying to figure out is, were they being honest in the interview? Now, it doesn’t mean that’s- it’s just a criteria and things like that.



And I’m not going to say, if it doesn’t line up, I don’t choose to not employ them or anything else, but it’s an extra thing. When they do line up to what I saw, I usually feel much more confident about it because it’s an extra metric, kind of, reinforcing what I was thinking based on the interview-type situation. So, C people, if that’s their dominant dimension, generally good at looking at details, et cetera. Now, those are, kind of, the overall blush things. And, so, you have a primary and a secondary dimension.



There’s also what’s called natural adaptive styles. I’m not going to get into that. Our DISC assessment, that you can do online, does explain that a little bit more. So, kind of the way it works is that you have a natural style and then you have a style that in some cases may show up when you’re under pressure and you’re under major scrutiny. Like, how does this change?



I think that actually can be useful. But generally speaking, there’s a natural and adaptive type style and a composite style. So, natural is how you work when you’re not under stress. It’s how you’re being yourself, living your best life. There’s a pressure style and then a composite style which is probably the most useful.



It’s like, this is on our average, no matter if you’re under pressure or not, how you show up to most people. So, let’s figure out how we put these things together now. This is kind of a good overview on how you use DISC, and we’re going to talk a little bit about that. We have another three-part series coming up. We just finished our three-part series on goal setting and the next three-part series we’re doing is called “Your Hiring Process Sucks.”



It’s about improving recruiting, hiring, and employee excellence. And we’re going to talk about a little bit now on how business owners can utilize this. Because we do believe you should use some kind of assessments or metrics or something like that to help in your hiring process to help you figure out which candidates are probably the better hires for you based on positions. And even if you’re not using them that way in your business, we at the Buck Stops Here Podcast believe it can be very useful to figure out better ways to communicate.



So, let’s talk about this a little bit in your business. Now, you can take classes on DISC, and we’ve conducted half-day workshops before on how to do this. And so, depending on your personality type, you have a primary and a secondary dimension. All this means these things show up primarily in your life. There are cases randomly where you can have a tertiary dimension, but that’s very unlikely.



But basically, your primary and secondary means there’s like above a line, like when you do the assessments. So many of these things come there, and if you’re above the certain threshold, that’s your primary or secondary. And you can also have just a single dimension. Most people have two.



So, you can be a D-I. You can be an I-C. You can be a D-C. And those things, kind of, dictate certain things. And depending on if the C is more dominant than the D, you can, kind of, read a little more into it. But as a rule, your primary dimension shows, kind of, what you know about the people. So, let’s just say someone who’s – let’s use the D-C – D-C’s tend to be- that means they’re very task-oriented.



People are generally secondary in how they analyze things. They like to get stuff done. They like to take control; executives. But they also have good or high-level attention to detail. Okay, so let’s just talk about that for a minute. That can be a challenging combination to work with.



A D-C is like, “Yeah, I want to get this done. I don’t want to hear mistakes, and I don’t care about the other stuff. I care that- I have a big touchy-feely staff, and they’re all S’s, but I don’t care. They’re basically sheep. I just care about getting stuff done.”



Now, the reason you want to know this, and when we talk about how you work in your business, it’s very important to be aware of your style, because you’re style influences other people. If you’re a D-C and you’re a hard-charging executive, it might be very easy for you to steamroll people who really want to make sure that, you know, they like to have a good time and like to help and support others. When you have very people-oriented individuals in your office, and you’re an executive who’s very task-oriented, there’s a challenge because those two things can find themselves in conflict with one another.



So, it’s important for you to realize that that’s your normal behavior style, and this is why I’m a big fan of behavioral assessments in particular. It’s really important for me to say, “Okay, how do I soften my presentation on these things?” I’m still task-oriented, but if I’m going to really convey stuff to my staff, maybe I need to figure out how’s the best way to talk to them. I hire- at our digital marketing agency, I have full-fledged programmers.



I know it’s weird. We’re a marketing company, but we have actual programmers on staff. And for when I go talk to that team, I personally am a D-I or an I-D situationally. Basically, you know, I’m very dominant. I’m good at talking to people and things like that.



But that also means I’m probably not, even though I’m task and people-oriented, I’m not spending a lot of time on that C dimension, which is really detail-oriented. So, if I go talk to a group of programmers- and programmers, generally speaking, in my experience, if I were to choose the categories that work real well for my team is they’re very detail-oriented on their programming. It’s math, and it’s details, and if you get something wrong, the whole system breaks. So, I generally want people with a very high C dimension in that role.



Secondary dimension; programmers, if they’re focused on their jobs, I probably don’t want the people who want to talk around the water cooler. Probably not looking for a high I dimension. I probably want high C’s, secondary mention S, or an S-C. So, I want them to support the team. I want them to be team-involved.



A team lead; I might want to have a higher D dimension. I might want a D-C to run the team, but I probably don’t want an I-S running that team because an I-S is going to support them, and then, “How about your weekend?” Or whatever it is. And so, the kind of people I hire in that role are very detail-oriented, and I want them to look at the details to make sure they get them right, and I want them to support the team, the real team players.



That’s who I want in that role. If I’m going to have that team, I probably do not want someone with a very high I dimension. I probably either want to promote from within and have a C-S in that kind of role or not. So, that’s just one example. Every one of these things is different.



S-I’s are liked by the party. So, the creative director in my company is actually an S-I. They support the team. They’re good at supporting the team, but they also know how to go in and, kind of, paint with words and paint colors and describe the future. And that works with designers.



Designers, generally speaking; I want either S-C’s, because we’re a very team-oriented environment, or I want them to, kind of, be the inspirational things, and I’ve got both in our team. I’ve had both people in those categories. I don’t want a lot of high D dimension in my design department, right? I may want one running it who has a high D dimension, but that may not be the way it works.



And I’m talking about personal examples here, just because I think you can probably relate to them. So, if you’re going to use this stuff, I think you need to look at your department, see, kind of, what the behavioral types are. And if you’ve been around a while and you’ve got 50 employees, I think that you’re going to find by trial and by error that you’ve hired a lot of the same kind of people in that department. You’ve hired people with a lot of the same behaviors because that’s your company culture. But if you have a team of all S’s and you throw someone with a high D dimension in there, it could be a little toxic.



Now, this is the- let me level with you for a minute- this is the “No BS” segment of the podcast, right?



There’s a lot of people out there who suggest that DISC profiles and these other assessment types are no better than horoscopes. Now, horoscopes are all BS. I mean, most of us can agree, right? I had a professor, an astronomy professor, in my freshman year of college who wanted to debunk it.



So, asked everybody their horoscopes thing, handed off slips of paper, and then based on that, he gave us our horoscopes analysis. Right? And he asked the class, how many of you guys agree with your assessments? And like 75% of us said, “Yeah, that is totally me. I’m totally a Scorpio, and that’s me.” Right? And then he told the class he had mixed up all the slips of paper.



I have never- Half, not half, but a third of the class walked out. They were angry, they were irate, they had been duped. And he was just making a point. He was just saying the idea that a twelve-degree arc of the sky – which is where the horoscopes things available in the night sky most of the year, and that’s where those constellations, those twelve constellations come from – really don’t influence your fate. And he pointed out that if you think it’s gravity, this pencil or pen I’m holding has more of a gravitational effect on your body than the nearest star.



And that’s what his point was making. Right? Now, why is this important? Right? I don’t believe horoscopes, and I know a lot of people put stock in them. I’m sorry if I offended you here, but that’s kind of the reality.



Unfortunately, they’re fun, I like to read them, but don’t read too much into them. The issue with it is behavioral assessments and psychometric assessments, a lot of times don’t hold up. That is totally true, and that criticism is valid.



So, you’ll find that when you go to DISC behavioral assessment or DISC BA, we ask you to put you in the same mindset, so you take them. When you put them in the same mindset, like, think about how you act at work and answer the thing honestly. Don’t overthink it. Answer it honestly. You’ll find that it’s usually pretty stable unless one of these major life changes happen. I’d say that our assessment is going to be accurate or be representative for you every time you take it about 90% of the time.



That’s a big thing. The problem empirically is, why is this stuff that been challenged or done, is most people don’t talk about that. A lot of these things aren’t better than horoscopes. You need to make sure that you aren’t making massive decisions on this.



There’s also a legal requirement on that. In certain states or jurisdictions, if using this to weed out candidates or choose between them, it may be illegal. I haven’t really seen that for DISC, but I do know that is, in particular, I know it does happen when Myers-Briggs in certain places, right? But I have found, and at The Buck Stops Here Podcast, we like to say that your mileage might vary. I have found them to be very useful indicators.



I do find within a certain role in our company, we find that we are over representative on behavioral assessment styles based on a category almost without exception. And that typically lends yourself beyond anecdotal examples to say yeah, there’s something to this, there’s a reason the Fortune 100 companies do this. We’re trying to find things better to communicate. And I will tell you at the end of the day, if you use DISC, you will find your staff working better together. If someone has a high C dimension, in particular, they have a very high attention to detail.



And when they make a mistake, I can guarantee you almost 99% of the time, if someone is a perfectionist, has a very high attention to detail, and they have a very high C dimension, when they’ve made a mistake, they’ve already seen it.



And when you go bring that mistake to their attention, they already know about it. They’ve already, kind of, beaten themselves up about this. And there’s not a lot to be served beyond what you need to do in your company to beat them up about it. And if you want to motivate them, give them a task that’s more difficult and also employs attention to detail because most people like a shot at redemption. And for them, giving them a harder task that’s more attention to detail shows that you believe in them and you have confidence in them to do that.



So, I’ve also had people in my business who had very high I dimensions, and I know with those people, I had to establish why that mistake was so critically important. And they did not see that. They were like, “What’s the big deal? It’s just a minor error.” I was like, “Yeah, but that cost somebody a ton of commissions,” or, “That caused a major problem for the company.”



People will make mistakes. We are only human, after all. But the fact of the matter is sometimes you do need to address that and sometimes it helps you communicate with those people better. Again, your mileage might vary. But in most cases, a business owner can utilize this. But what I can say is that just make this one more tool that you employ to improve your interaction with your employees, and I think you’ll be better off for them.



So, the takeaways for today, kind of go through these really quick, is that we do recommend using some kind of behavioral assessments. That it’s important that you use them and have an action plan to employ them. So, it’s not just enough that you’re going to use them. I do recommend that. And then you have to have an action plan for how you’re going to use them and why. And the third part about this is you need to educate your staff on what they are and what they are not.



Years ago, when we first used behavioral assessments, I had an employee, and she used it to interview people when she was out dating at bars. I’m going to use it to analyze who I’m going to date, who I’m going to ask out again, and do that thing. Now, why am I saying this? That sounds comical, but in some cases, they feel like all of a sudden they’ve learned some Master Jedi power or something. There are entire sales books that talk about figuring out the four styles when you’re actually meeting someone in a sales kind of type environment is useful.



If you know someone’s a D-C, they’ll tell you like, “Oh, you need to just talk about the facts and about how it’s going to dominate their business.” So, just an example on these, D’s care about- Oh, think about what your business will look like and how you’ll be a captain of industry in a year because they were high D, and you’ve analyzed that. The I’s; think about what the experience is going to be like working with my company and how that’s going to be great. It’s going to be a lot of fun. You’re going to love it. The S; we’re here to support you and partner with you, and move forward your company in a new exciting way.



But ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s about supporting you and your activities and supporting your team. And the C’s; we measure twice and cut once. We totally don’t make mistakes. We’re very attention to detail because you’re engineers, and you know that you can’t afford to make a mistake because then a building falls in on somebody. Or something bad happens, right? So, we make sure we do those things.



I’m addressing stability in those things. Beware doing this because remember; everybody is all four dimensions at the same time. So, if you’re going to do it and talk about these things, you may have them pegged right and may know exactly what personality assessment type things they are. But most people buy from an emotional standpoint, so it’s also important they know that it helps them achieve their goals in the long run. So, I think you need to be careful with it.



I think if you are going to use a sales component, you need to speak to all four of these things because you never know who that person in the room. And what if you’re wrong? Again, remember; your mileage might vary in certain cases, but I do believe these can be very helpful and useful. Again, go to discbehavioralassessment.com, and you can do your own free assessment for work or for personal life. You can sign up for an account there, so you can come back and do them at any time and see how things have changed.



That’s one thing I’m very proud about with this assessment is you can get to go look at history and see, well, man, I just took a new job or just did something, just had a birth of my first child and my assessments changed slightly. It’s not a surprise; just be aware of that. But you can also see over time how stable it’s been. Check that out.



If you liked what you heard here, please subscribe. You can find this at any place that good podcasts are found. So, you can find us on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, view us on YouTube. Also, go to The Buck Stops Here Business Podcast.



You can view the video version of this there as well. And again, we’d like to hear comments from you. Like and subscribe. Remember to tune in next time for the three-part series on your hiring process sucks. How to improve recruiting, hiring, and employee excellence. So, with that, be well, do good work, and we hope to see you.


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