DISC Personality System

Background of Behavioural Instruments
Throughout the ages, Man has been trying to explain the behaviour of their counterparts. Back in 444 B.C., the Empodocles believed that people would behave in a certain way when they get into contact with different elements like Earth, Air, Fire or Water. The Hippocrates, however, believed that it is the type of fluids - cold or warm, fast or slow moving fluids - that flowed in a person which determines how he/she will behave, giving rise to Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholic types of personality. In 1921 Carl Gustav Jung introduced 4 different types of psychological types of personality: Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition, that affects a person’s behavior. Finally in 1926, William M. Marston invented the Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance (DISC) personality system, which has benefited many organisations in better understanding their most valuable asset – their people.

In the market, there are many different personality systems that can be used to explain the behaviours, so why DISC? Firstly, DISC is straightforward, and its simplicity renders it easy to understand and to apply. Secondly, given its longstanding and track record, DISC has been tested and proven to work. Thirdly, and most importantly, the premise of DISC is that behaviours can be changed, thus encouraging people to learn to modify their behaviours after understanding themselves, in order to leverage on their strengths and reduce their weaknesses.

Briefly, the different types of personality identified by Dr. Marston are:
Dominance – people who are results oriented, direct and decisive
Influence – people who are interactive, influencing and sociable
Steadiness – people who are stable, steady and secure
Compliance – people who are compliant, correct and controlled

Understanding personality styles can, and has aided many organisations, both large and small, in many areas.

Finding the right team member
The DISC system has helped many companies to place the right type of people at the right job. For example, you may not want someone who is of the “D” type of personality (who tend to be very direct and task oriented, and may be impatient) to be your customer service officer.
“I” and “S” type people who are more people-oriented may be more suitable for the position.

To build an effective team, it is usually good to have people of different personality types to work together so that the team will be all-rounded. The “D”s will direct the actions, the “I”s will motivate the teammates, the “S”s will ensure that the targets are realistic and the “C”s will look into proper documentation and compliance to policies and regulations.

Using DISC, participants learn about their own motivations and tendancies, as well as those of fellow team members. In this way, there will be better allocation of duties, sharing of work loads and monitoring of progress of work delegated to other team members.

Motivating a team
Using a banana to entice a cat to climb down from a tree would likely yield little result. Similarly, understanding what motivates different people can help organisations motivate their staff, in addition to just waving monetary rewards. Type “D” people look for positions of authority, “I”s tend to appreciate public approval and praises, “S”s greatly treasure family and relationships, they will do almost anything if they know that you care about them. The “C”s, on the other hand, need to be complemented for their almost perfect work.

Communication within and outside a team
In effective communication, we do not just need to give clear instructions. We also have to understand what people selectively listen to. Dominant people go straight to the point and may not require much detail to carry out a request. Influence type people will take the chance to talk to you about work, colleagues, family, hobbies, the day’s news and may forget about why he/she was asked to do the task, that is, if they still remember to do it. “S” types need to have specific instructions with clear areas of responsibilities to get into action and “C” types need to know exactly why certain things have to be done and its detailed repercussions.

Conflict Resolution/ Prevention among team members
Understanding how another colleague thinks and works can help to resolve certain conflicts and prevent misunderstandings. A “D” person may never know that he is driving his subordinates too hard, an “I” person may not know that he is driving his “C” colleague crazy by passing her stacks of messy scribbles to be entered into the computer.

Understanding personality types is not to stereotype one another, and neither should it be used as an excuse for our displayed behaviour. in seeking deeper understanding of ourselves and others through the use of a personality assessment tool like DISC Personality System, we learn how to better adapt to our environment, appreciate one another, and actualize our strengths and combat our weak spots. In short, this simple and easy to apply, yet powerful tool will prove valuable to organisations and teams of any size.

Profiling instruments, which are not delivered by trained psychologists and doctors, are intended for people under normal circumstances. To measure behavior of people under special or extreme circumstances, we may need to seek professional help from psychologists or doctors.

Most profiling instruments available in the market are based on self-assessment, i.e., getting the subject to fill up a questionnaire, therefore, firstly the instruments delivered in this way measure the self-perception of the subject, and secondly, there is room for the participant to answer the questionnaire according to the personality that he/she wishes to exhibit.

Personality can also change with time and environment or a decision to change.
Any profiling system can only serve as a guide to predict a person’s behavior. We all possess the God-given ability to choose how we want to react in any given circumstance. A change in personality can take place in as little as 3 weeks! We can also manage our behavior by teaming up with the right people, and by adjusting our behavior to suit the people we are dealing with.

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