You’ve scouted around and found clever employees who are very capable at their role... but are you truly getting the best out of them? Your business success relies on a fully engaged, productive and satisfied workforce. So, how can you ensure that your staff are being offered a work environment that best supports their personality, working style and learning preferences?
Let’s get personal
Personality profiling is one tool you can use to gain insight into how your employees prefer to learn, work and interact. Using this information you can then focus on creating a work environment that is more conducive to productivity for them.
As a business owner or manager, this information can also help you make decisions around hiring, promotions, professional development opportunities and project assignment. For example, personality profiling might help you identify potential leadership qualities, or qualities that might lend someone to be suited for a new or alternative role.
Personality profiling isn’t about identifying the ‘ideal’; this is not about what is right or wrong - every personality type has its pros and cons. It is about identifying and understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, and those of your colleagues, and then figuring out the best way to work together so everyone feels comfortable and supported to best perform in their role. As a leader, it’s also important to understand your own leadership style and how this impacts on the effectiveness of your team.
There are a variety of tests available that all offer similar kinds of personality profiling, but at Xero, teams are collectively encouraged to take the DiSC personality profiling test. As the WorkflowMax marketing team works very closely with each other on projects on a daily basis, and we are all quite different people, we thought it would be beneficial to complete the DiSC questionnaire and then share the findings with each other so we can continue to be one-big-happy-marketing-team as it grows along with the business!
[Something important to remember: it’s illegal to use personality profiling to discriminate against employees, and that’s certainly not what this article is suggesting.]
An introduction to DiSC
DiSC is a popular personal assessment tool used to improve productivity, teamwork and communication. It creates an opportunity for discourse around behavioural differences and preferences. The name comes from the four pillars that the personality behaviours are based around:
- D - dominance
- I - influence
- S - steadiness
- C - conscientiousness
The DiSC assessment is a pretty easy process. Each team member is sent a link to a private online questionnaire which they can complete in their own time. Depending on the type of profile test you are using, there are either forced-choice questions or a rating scale.
You are then sent through a comprehensive report with a wealth of data about your workplace priorities and preferences. This report also puts you somewhere on the ‘map’ - the location of the dot indicates your inclination towards a certain personality style, and also the strength of that inclination.
Here’s mine. I fall pretty clearly in the S category, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have tendencies in other areas, it’s just that this is my dominant area.
The profile report then gives insight into your behavioural tendencies, your preferred work environment, how you respond to challenges, rules and procedures, your preferred pace of activity, your motivators and stressors and suggested strategies for ensuring optimal effectiveness. DiSC does not measure intelligence, aptitude, mental health or values.
Based on the results, the report also provides valuable insight on how to react to the other styles, the motivation behind their behaviour and how you can best adapt your own behaviour in your interactions with other styles.
It’s all very interesting to have your personality analysed, but the point is not to just give you a whole lot of reading about your favourite subject (yourself). While having a greater understanding of your tendencies helps you to identify better ways of doing things, the true benefits also lie in your colleagues getting to know you better, and from there finding better ways of supporting each other and working together.
Once the WorkflowMax marketing team had taken a close look at our personal results, we were then able to run ‘comparison reports’ in the DiSC system with each of our team members. These compared our own styles with that of our colleagues, identifying where we were similar, and where we were different. The comparison report outlines suggested roadblocks, benefits, and tips for working together based on both our similarities and differences.
The key areas of comparison are:
- Daring vs careful
- Outgoing vs private
- Skeptical vs accepting
- Calm vs energetic
- Tactful vs frank
- Soft-spoken vs forceful
Here is an example from the comparison report between Steff and I. Incidentally, our dots both appear very, very close to each other on the map, so we don’t have too many differences, but doesn’t mean we don’t need to figure out ways to best work together.
In this example, Steff and I both appear right on the tactful end of the ‘frankness’ scale. We both tend to be very careful when it comes to choosing our words, which is all very nice, but we are in roles where we are required to evaluate and provide feedback on each others work. To be more effective in our roles we need to practice being more direct and candid with our feedback, which, because of our natures, we are both often reluctant to do.
Here is another example between Chirag, head of marketing, and myself. This part of the report places us at different ends of a scale, where I may come across as calm or laid-back, whereas Chirag is more driven and focused on results. Both also have the potential to be misinterpreted!
Again, qualities at any part of this continuum are valuable, it is about finding a way to best align your behaviours.
Create a more cohesive team
The reports highlighted aspects about the way we work that our colleagues may not have been aware of. Previously we may have been confused about why a colleague behaved or responded a certain way, but after being presented with information that gave insight into why they do or don’t do things, we can now make a better choice as to how we respond or interact.
Some of these things may involve adapting:
- means of communication
- delivery of feedback
- the way we present information or tasks to colleagues
- how we collaborate
- challenging ideas
- how meetings are run or directed
- deadline setting
Understanding each others’ differences and similarities means we can be a more effective team. As our team grows, it will also help us to identify the right ‘fit’ as we look to balance the skills and create cohesion.
Do you have a team that often encounters personality clashes? Do you sense frustrations between colleagues over differing work styles? Perhaps taking a closer look at their personality profiles will help! If you’ve noticed significant shifts in productivity since carrying out a personality profile test, share your experience below!