I am one of those people that has never been afraid to voice my opinion. From early on – we’re talking diapers here I am not kidding, I knew that I had a point of view and that I would make sure it was heard. The hardest thing for me to understand was that not everyone was like me, and being the opinionated “Alpha” type that I am I had the belief that you either jumped on board or got out of my way. Let me tell ya…this does not make you a lot of friends. For me a job was about making money not friends, and if you were good at your job then we would never have a problem.
Now this way of thinking might be good in the military – who knows maybe I missed my calling, but in business and life in general, there are some definite issues with this mindset. I do not like to waste time or effort, so I had to come to some realizations pretty quick if I wanted to be successful. After beating my head up against the wall for a while this is what I found….
1. Most people do not go to work just to work, we are social beings and that does not get shut off by punching a time clock.
2. Knowledge is power, the more you know about yourself and those you work with the better at your job you will be. The goal is to get people to work with you not in spite of you.
3. Burning bridges and leaving dead bodies in your wake is not the way to make a name for yourself. There is not an endless supply of qualified people out there and you will get more out of happy employees than scared ones.
4. A mission statement is not worth the paper it is written on if everyone involved does not have the same vision. If co-workers/employees cannot identify with you they will never go that extra mile for you.
5. Taking 15 minutes out of your day each work day, to stay in tune and in touch with your team, will do more for moral and productivity than almost any other training tool.
I honestly didn’t understand any of this until an employer made me take a personality test. The test was called The DISC profile, it helps people explore behavior across four primary dimensions: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. This of course is not the only test out there it is however, the one I have personally taken and the one I give to those that work with and for me.
Seven years ago I took the DISC test online and then was emailed my results. To my horror the first page in my general characteristics section opened with; “Bridget is often frustrated when working with others who do not share the same sense of urgency. She is deadline conscious and becomes irritated if deadlines are delayed and missed.” It went on to use descriptors like; aggressive, confident (so much so that others may see me as arrogant), competitive, dominant, forceful, and direct. This 24 page report ended the first paragraph with “Bridget needs to learn to relax and pace herself”….exactly can you imagine what the other 23.5 pages said? My thoughts after reading this one paragraph “I AM SO FIRED.”
I had just been hired and that test was the last thing I had to do, after seeing my results I told my manager I was having a bad day when I took the test and that if I could please take it again I know it would show that I am a nice person. She said no, she assured me no matter how many times I took it the profile would be the same. The manager then proceeded to walk me through how my high Dominance and Influence categories would make me successful in the position I was hired for. So actually my personality profile was perfect for the position I was hired for.
For the record it turned out that the test and manager were correct, my personality was perfect for that job and I have taken the assessment a few times since then and the results have not changed much. With the help of the DISC system I learned how to identify, work with, and adapt to other behavioral profiles to get the most out of our working relationship. You’ve heard it before, work smarter not harder, this tool helps you do just that.
The report is broken down into different areas depending on which test you take-they have many, the one I took addressed these areas:
This is the harsh reality talking here, it highlights general characteristics from your point of view – how you see yourself and how others may see you.
Natural and Adaptive Styles
This section is great because it shows where you started and where you are now, it shows you if you are making progress or moving backwards.
Specific Factor Analysis
This section gives feedback on; listening, follow up/through, consistency, attention to detail, decisiveness, customer/employee interface, sense of urgency, self-confidence, etc.
Do’s and Don’t when communicating with you, as well as tips to help you communicate with other personality types.
Ideal Work Environment
This section helps you, management, and co-workers or employees understand the best work environment for you to flourish.
Keys to motivating you as an employee and do’s and don’ts to managing you.
When taking and using a test like this there are a few things to remember:
1. Be Honest: There are no right or wrong answers, the more honest you are the more you will get out of a test like this.
2. Be Open: You have to be willing to face some harsh truths about yourself and others if you are going to create a productive work environment.
3. Be Flexible: Adapting is not a weakness, change is essential in keeping a business vibrant and successful.
4. Be Positive: This is not meant to bring you down, it is a tool, so have fun with it and learn from it.
5. Be Active: After you go through the trouble of taking and analyzing this test do not throw it in a drawer and forget it, make sure you pull it out regularly to keep yourself on track.
Self-assessment tools like the DISC profile can be used for many things, but here are a few areas that the creators of DISC highlight on their website:
Profiles are largely self-assessments but can be used in: management development, communication, stress management, workplace diversity, time management, conflict resolution, team building, sales training, sales manager training, personal growth development and education, change management, personality assessment, enhancement of the hiring job interview process, relationship counseling, coaching, and many more diverse applications.
For myself and my business this has been a tremendously helpful tool, gone are those frustrating days when I thought the best way to get things done was to do it myself. Now when hiring a new employee, working in a new team, or even evaluating prospective and active clients I use the DISC profile. Time and money are two sides of the same coin and this tool has saved me both.