The Power of Behavioral Assessments

It’s often said that managing people is the hardest part of running a business.  And it’s true!  Each of us is unique, with a bundle of motivations and perceptions that color our every interaction.  While personalities are unique and complex, you can determine an individual’s “behavioral  type” to assist in deriving valuable management insights:

  • Will that candidate thrive in your organization’s culture?
  • Should your top individual contributor be promoted to management?
  • How can you better motivate and manage direct reports?
  • What can you do to avoid or resolve conflicts within your team?

There are four basic types.  Dominants are extroverted, adventurous and results-oriented, while influencers are enthusiastic, persuasive and highly sociable.  Steady types are patient, good listeners and team players, while compliant types are conscientious, analytical and precise.

A steady or compliant employee might be a star within your accounting or logistics department, but expecting such an individual to supervise others may be a setup for failure. Understanding the strengths, motivations and communication styles of your staff can improve their performance and prevent potential misunderstandings.

There are a number of personality measurement tools on the market – one of the most popular and well-regarded being the DISC Assessment. “DISC” stands for “Dominance”, “Influence”, “Steadiness” and “Compliance”, the four major underlying dimensions of behavioral style.  We recommend the version provided by Success Insights ® International. They provide a user-friendly and robust assessment, which is based on continuous field research and used extensively by Fortune 500 companies.

How DISC Assessments Work

The DISC Assessment GCF provides is web-based, consists of 24 questions and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.  There are different versions for staff, executives and sales personnel.  Feedback is immediate and includes information such as:

  • general personality characteristics
  • potential  value to the organization
  • communication style
  • optimal work environment
  • how to motivate
  • advice on successful management style

It is essential to remember that when using the DISC assessment to assist in your decision making process that it should be only one of the contributing factors.  There are other factors that need to be considered, such as what motivates the individual and the hard skills they possess.

Client Experience

GCF was consulted about a client’s plan to promote an A+ performer to management.  He never missed deadlines, consistently over-delivered and was unfailingly reliable. The department that he was working in had grown tremendously over the past few years so the organization decided that there was a need for an immediate supervisor for day-to-day functions.   This top performer seemed the logical choice.  However, there were several indicators that needed to be evaluated before proceeding.

To help provide additional insight, GCF decided to have this candidate take a DISC assessment to further validate or negate some of the concerns.  The candidate was a 70 out of 100 on his “C” (Compliance) and his “S” (Steadiness) was 80 out of 100.  This profile told us the following:

  • His ideal work environment involves low levels of conflict
  • He is uncomfortable with change, and therefore needs a high level of security and stability
  • He  needs structure and consistency
  • His value to the organization is being a member of a team, not a manager of people

Based upon these findings and our interviews, we determined that moving this person into a newly developed and unstructured leadership position would set him up for failure.  The position required someone more comfortable with both uncertainty and building up a management structure where it previously did not exist.

As a final step in our decision making process, we met with this candidate and quickly learned management was not the career path that he was seeking.  He was looking to be the lead on more complex technical projects.  It was very apparent that this person wanted to be an individual contributor, rather than a leader.

Had he been promoted to manager, he would have likely failed. Within a few months, there may have been conversations to explore why his performance had slipped, and his team would have become frustrated by a lack of structure.  Instead, better understanding his strengths and motivations enabled his employer to increase his job satisfaction by giving him more demanding assignments and to identify a more suitable candidate for the manager role.  This decision was well received by the candidate.

Which personality type do you think you are?  Which of the four quadrants do you think best describes you?  If you are interested in learning more about DISC profiles, please contact us for an assessment.

2 Responses

  1. Gina:

    Great example of what DISC prevented. Everyone loses when there is a poor management fit.

    It would be interesting to have a real life example of what happens when the wrong person is promoted into the wrong job. In that case, what happens when there was no DISC assessment.

    • Gina Fedeli

      That is a great question Peter. We have experienced times when someone was promoted into a position that wasn’t the right fit for them and a DISC was not completed. In that case, we went back and had the person complete a DISC assessment. This exercise opened communication so that we could explore the challenges. We also explored the kind of position that would be a more appropriate match to the employee’s skills. In this instance, the person opted to take a step back and return to their former position that had not been filled yet. Over time, the company created a position that was a more appropriate match to this employee’s strengths. The employee was promoted and the results have been positive.

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