How DISC Assessments Can Improve the Employee Experience

Eric Mochnacz
July 21, 2023

The use of psychometrics in human resources practice is central to a number of debates in the industry.  Like any tool, when used effectively and properly, behavioral assessments have the potential to improve HR processes.  There are different ways to integrate DISC, and other psychometrics like Driving Forces and EQ, into the employee lifecycle to enhance employee experience.

What is a DISC Assessment? 

A DISC assessment is a behavioral assessment (not a personality test) that measures individuals’ preferred behavioral styles.  The results of the assessment help people better understand and articulate how they tend to behave in certain situations, how they approach their work, and how they interact with others.  The science behind DISC was developed in the 1920s by William Moulton Marston, and assessment providers have refined the science to support implementing assessments in the workplace.  

Like most assessments, respondents answer a series of questions to receive results in a comprehensive report.  In the case of DISC, the results provide insight into an individual’s degree of intensity across the four dimensions of DISC – 

  • D, or Dominance Factor, is how someone approaches problems and challenges.  
  • I, or Influence Factor, is how someone approaches people and contacts.
  • S, or Steadiness Factor, is how someone approaches pace and consistency.
  • C, or Compliance Factor, is how someone approaches procedures and constraints.

And although respondents will have a primary and secondary behavioral style, all individuals have a combination of the four factors to a varying degree which influences how they behave and communicate.  As part of Red Clover’s DISC service offering, we engage with participants in a thorough debrief to help them better interpret and understand the results of their assessment.   

In addition,  Driving Forces and EQ assessments, which complement the DISC assessment, help your employees understand their motivators and emotional intelligence respectively.  The three assessments provide comprehensive, holistic insight into your employees’ behavior and have multiple applications across the employment lifecycle. 

Five Ways DISC Assessments Can Improve the Employee Experience

There are a number of ways companies can integrate DISC assessments into their HR practice.  The insights from the assessments help individuals better understand themselves,  which leads to improved communication and collaboration,  especially with individuals whose styles are different from theirs.  The reports are often used in team building, leadership training, performance management, and professional and personal development.  

1. Improves Hiring and Retention 

DISC assessments, like any assessments, can be an integrated part of your recruitment process, as long as your tool is EEO compliant and is used correctly.  We don’t recommend using a DISC assessment as elimination criteria, but rather as a tool to better understand how the candidate shows up to the interview and their behavioral style should they be the candidate of choice.  Combined with the Driving Forces assessment, which evaluates their motivators, we are able to adjust our behavioral interview questions to adapt to the candidates’ preferred style and drivers.  If someone’s primary and secondary DISC style is different from the rest of the team, it helps us better prepare for their arrival and we can proactively adjust our styles to make them feel more comfortable – both in the interview and if they join the organization.  Diversity of thought is important in an organization, and by having an understanding of how a new team member communicates, we can better facilitate their onboarding and long-term retention with the company.  

2. Helps Employees Communicate Effectively  

In terms of DISC, behavioral style and communication style are used interchangeably.  So, employees, through understanding their DISC profile, learn about their own communication style and recognize the other styles on their team.  This facilitates greater understanding and reduces miscommunication among the team.  With every member of a team understanding their own unique communication preferences, they can adapt their own style to meet the needs of their colleagues and their preferred styles to enhance communication rhythms.  

For example, someone with a high Dominance score is considered a direct communicator.  They are often seen as assertive decision-makers and often focus on results.  They have a greater tendency to confront conflict head-on and are decisive problem solvers.  On the other hand, a steady communicator with a high Steadiness score is more methodical and even-paced.  They are cooperative and patient and may not move as quickly to solve a problem as their direct communicator colleague.  By understanding these different styles that exist on a team, these individuals can adapt how they work with each other to be more effective and avoid conflict.  

3. Improves Conflict Resolution 

Naturally, by understanding the diverse communication styles of a team, DISC assessments foster a collaborative environment focused on cooperation and inclusion.  And although that helps avoid conflict, it doesn’t completely eliminate the potential for conflict.  A DISC results report outlines areas for potential conflict, specifically between different behavioral styles.  When conflict does arise, the assessment results provide context as to why someone may be acting a certain way, and it encourages problem-solving and conflict resolution aligned with each person’s preferred communication style.  By accepting that each of us prefers to communicate a different way, it opens up the potential for addressing conflict in a productive way.  

4. Opportunity to Capitalize on an Employee’s Strengths  

DISC assessments lead to improved self-awareness by providing insight into employees’ preferences, strengths, and areas for adaptation.  This helps employees make more informed decisions about their own work.  Employers also gain insight into how their employees prefer to work.  It opens up greater opportunities for professional growth, with employers tailoring growth plans and career paths aligned with an employee’s DISC profile.  

For example, individuals with a high Compliance score have a greater tendency to be detail-oriented and analytical.  Accuracy, precision, and work quality are paramount.  They thrive when given the opportunity to develop processes and procedures.  They love structure.  Knowing this about someone may mean they have a greater likelihood of success in a logistics or operations role.  It doesn’t mean it’s the only role available to them, but they will most likely enjoy a role that best matches and amplifies their primary communication style.  

5. Improves Leadership Skills 

Since most DISC assessments are scientifically valid and reliable, they help you make data-driven decisions for your business.  As you navigate building out the next level of leaders in your organization, knowing your employees’ communication and behavioral preferences helps you make intentional workforce decisions.  Use the outcomes from the DISC assessment for more in-depth and individualized performance management discussions.  Knowing how your direct reports prefer to act and communicate means you can develop individualized growth plans and set them up for success should they choose to pursue promotional opportunities.  Contributing directly to someone’s individual growth, with the facts and figures to back it up, leads to higher levels of engagement and greater alignment with company goals.  And if you see someone who is engaged and aligned with your company, you have greater opportunities to help them grow and become the company’s next generation of leaders.  

Interested in Incorporating DISC Within Your Organization? 

Through our partnership with TTI Success Insights, we provide DISC, Driving Forces, and EQ assessments to our clients.  We integrate the appropriate assessments into specific employment lifecycle processes and use the results to improve employee experience and engagement.  As we work with your company to scale, our access to and understanding of DISC and other assessments enhances your company’s recruitment efforts, retention strategy, onboarding program, and performance management process.  The certified consultants on our team are skilled in debriefing your workforce and we use the individualized results to enhance employee performance, effectively manage conflict, and create a more substantial performance management process.  If you’re ready to use this effective tool the right way, reach out!

Photo Credit – Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán:

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