Assessments have a place in HR processes when used properly. Like any tool, they are effective when used correctly. DISC assessments are one behavioral assessment tool you can use to help employees better understand their behavior and communication styles. Paired with Driving Forces and EQ assessments, you learn how an employee will behave while also learning what motivates them and their level of emotional intelligence. In this blog, we will outline how a DISC assessment drives value for your workforce and how a debrief with a certified consultant only increases the value of the assessment for your employees and the company.
What Does a DISC Debrief Entail?
Before you can complete a debrief with a certified DISC consultant to better understand your DISC style, you need to complete the assessment. DISC is one of the most common behavioral assessments on the market and there are a number of assessment providers out there. Red Clover’s vetted partner is TTI Success Insights. They are an industry leader, and back when Jen L’Estrange started the firm, it was important for the assessments we used to be research-backed, data driven and EEO compliant. TTI SI checked those boxes. There are a number of LinkedIn “influencers” who demonize the use of behavioral assessments in HR processes – mainly to get clicks and engagement. But, when used correctly, DISC assessments create huge opportunities to better understand your workforce and elevate productivity and performance. We use these assessments internally and with clients because we believe short of outright negligence, discrimination and harassment, or failure to do ones’ job, most conflict and performance issues in the workplace can be addressed within the context of peoples’ communication styles.
In completing a DISC assessment, participants respond to a series of questions related to how they are most likely to behave in specific situations. Based on their responses, participants receive a detailed report outlining their natural communication tendencies and if they are currently adapting their natural style in response to their current environment. The report Red Clover uses has tons of information and action items for the participant. We’re talking almost 65 pages of information. It can be overwhelming if you don’t have someone guiding you on how to use the report and its information. That’s why a debrief is so critical to understanding the outcomes of the assessment. Like any tool, you want to know how to use it properly!
Introduction to DISC
Someone’s DISC profile is typically represented by four bars on a graph, indicating the degree of intensity with which someone exhibits behavior within the four dimensions of DISC.
D, indicated by the red bar, is someone’s Dominance factor. This illustrates how a person manages problems and challenges. If their bar is below the energy line, they are considered a reflective communicator. Someone with a red bar above the energy line is considered a direct communicator. Briefly, a direct communicator is someone who is likely to face problems and challenges head on by jumping right in to solve them, whereas a reflective communicator is more methodical in their problem solving approach.
Someone’s Influencing factor, reflected in the yellow I bar tells us if they are a more outgoing or reserved communicator in relation to people and contacts. The outgoing communicator is more comfortable in social situations and works to develop trust and social capital with others quickly. The reserved communicator is more cautious in establishing deeper personal relationships with contacts.
Steadiness factor, or is indicated by the green bar. This tells us if someone is a steady or dynamic communicator within the context of pace and consistency. Although self-explanatory, a steady communicator is, well, steady. They are the port in the storm. They are intentional and methodical in how they communicate and move at an even pace. Conversely, the dynamic communicator moves quickly, can shift between multiple projects, and is comfortable with rapid change.
Finally, the blue graph is an individual’s Compliance factor. Their C position above or below the energy line demonstrates they are a precise or pioneering communicator, respectively. The precise communicator focus on developing data-driven procedures and constraints and responds well to rules that are applied equally to everyone and every situation. The pioneering communicator prefers more flexibility, knowing that there may be rules and processes to follow, but they are adaptable enough to change if needed.
Review of Individual Profiles
Your assessment is individual to you and how you answered the questions. So, your debrief is also incredibly individualized. Generally, you have the opportunity to review the assessment report in advance of your debrief to get a general idea of what the results tell you. It gets your mind moving before you sit down with the certified consultant who is conducting the debrief.
A debrief is a discussion. There are a number of opportunities throughout the report for the facilitator to engage the participant about what’s included in the report. For example, there is a behavioral summary in the DISC reports we provide. As the participant reads it, we invite them to identify if each statement is true, false, or if they would edit it. Then, we engage in a discussion about their thoughts on the summary and their assessment of the veracity of the statements. This is one of the many places throughout a DISC report where we are able to engage the person across from us about the report’s contents.
Discussion of Strengths
One of the greatest things about a DISC report is the summary a participant receives comes from a place of positivity and strength. The generated statements aren’t a value judgment on someone’s preferred communication style, but a clear statement on how they “show up.” This sets the stage for a discussion about how someone’s communication style, even if vastly different from their peers, is still a strength.
Often, I’ll have individuals in debriefs feel like they need to defend their behavior or quantify their statement of agreement with “but I’m working on that.” The report presents the facts as they are and describes you as you are – without demanding you need to change something. That lends itself to productive conversations about how your communication style is unique and you drive value because of the way you behave and communicate, not in spite of it. There is a section of the TTI report that outlines someone’s value to the organization and we call that the superhero page, because it clearly articulates someone’s strengths related to their DISC profile.
Understanding Communication Styles
By participating in a DISC debrief, the individual not only learns about their communication style – and how they prefer people to communicate and not communicate with them – but they also gain valuable insight into how others communicate. Based on how someone’s DISC graph reads, they fall into one of 8 categories, illustrated in a wheel and dictated by their primary communication style. Data in the report gives guidance on how they can best communicate with those who fall into the 7 other categories.
Speaking of the Talent Insights wheel, we can use individual reports and merge them into a larger team report to better understand the team dynamic. Generally, we recommend individual debriefs first and then taking all that information and merging into a team report which is chock full of data. Similar to an individual report, you want a skilled and certified facilitator guiding the team through the debrief. A team debrief is about discussing individual profiles and how they interact with each other, how they balance each other out, and ares for potential conflict and challenge.
The individual reports and the team reports provide useful data points for this type of discussion. We always discuss our team report as part of our quarterly off-sites and we also integrate team DISC debriefs into client off-sites upon their request. There are sections devoted to ways to communicate and not to communicate with each other based on each other’s DISC assessment results. We focus on the “Value to the Organization” page so people can articulate how their different styles drive value within an organization. And we facilitate discussion around what participants learned in their individual debriefs and from the report and how they will apply that to their ongoing growth within the organization.
Application to Real-Life Situations
Although we complete these assessments within the context of someone’s professional life, we recognize there is interplay between how someone shows up at work and their personal life. As part of the debrief, participants will often use examples from their personal life to demonstrate data points in the assessment report. Being able to apply the information from the report to your life outside of work adds even more value to completing the assessment.
Sometimes our clients and internal candidates will tell us they’ve completed a DISC assessment before. We obviously get excited. But then they say they completed the assessment, got their results report, but then their company didn’t do anything with it. That’s the value of partnering with Red Clover to be your DISC assessment provider. We engage in a thorough, interactive and engaging debrief with you while providing you the opportunity to answer any questions and seek clarity in real time.
We don’t believe in having you complete a assessment which can generate a report as long as 65 pages and then having it sit on your desk collecting dust. There’s so much information in a report and most people need help deciphering it. That’s why we’re here. To use the tool analogy again – you don’t buy a new electric saw just to have it sit in the box because you don’t know how to use it. You read the instructions, call a buddy who knows how to use it or check out some Youtube tutorials to make sure you can use the tool and use it effectively. It’s the same way with a DISC report. It’s not only the tool itself, but also who is available to you help you use it the way it was intended.
The Value of a DISC Debrief
An individual or team DISC debrief helps you better understand how you behave and how your communication style is one of your greatest strengths. In a society that tells us to ONLY communicate in a certain way to get things done, a DISC assessment tells you how to be productive based on how you naturally act. The depth and breadth of information provided to participants in a DISC assessment and debrief helps you enhance your performance and better contextualize how you show up in your day to day. It’s pretty amazing for people who often felt like the way they communicated and behaved at work didn’t drive value to suddenly see that it does, just by having a better grasp of their own preferred style.
And as already mentioned, the assessment is just one part of the DISC experience. A debrief with a certified consultant is the second part. The third part is taking what you’ve learned and applying it in real-life scenarios. Once individuals see the impact of a debrief, they see the value of engaging in one.
Get Connected With a Certified DISC Consultant Today
If you’re a startup or small business who has heard of DISC but aren’t sure how to apply it to your workforce, we should talk. We have certified consultants on our team who help you leverage DISC (as well as Driving Forces and EQ) assessments the way they are supposed to be used. We have direct experience in integrating these behavioral assessments into every aspect of the employee lifecycle, from recruiting, to onboarding, to professional development and management training.
If you’ve completed a DISC assessment before and never had anyone do anything with it, now is the time to harness the power of the results and engage meaningfully with skilled professionals about the results. It will elevate your team and your business as you all learn how you prefer to communicate and how you can better communicate together to grow your business.