Our DiSC® Assessment Workshop: An Exercise in Understanding
I took the DiSC® Assessment when I started working at TEN7. Let’s pause for a moment and talk about what the heck the DiSC® assessment is. According to the DiSC website, DiSC® is a personal assessment tool...to help improve teamwork, communication, and productivity in the workplace.
In my own words, I would describe it as a method for analyzing our individual styles, strengths, and needs, and using that analysis to help us better understand ourselves and each other, so that we can communicate more mindfully and strengthen our team.
Taking the DiSC® assessment was truly enlightening. I remember talking with our DiSC® facilitator, Eric Zakovich of Long Run Leadership, about my analysis and how I could best work with one particular team member. According to my DiSC® assessment results, this team member had a very different working style than I, and Eric gave me some tips for communicating with and understanding this person and their motivations. One specific thing I remember is that my teammate needed to see data before making a decision or changing a particular process. Since I was tasked with overseeing our process, this would be important for me to keep in mind, so that I didn’t seem flippant or misguided when proposing process changes or new ideas. This was extremely helpful and just what I needed as I started working with a new company.
I attended Operations Camp last December, where I learned about the ways in which different companies and teams operate. And when the opportunity arose for us to dive into a smaller group session about personality/work style assessments, I jumped at the chance!
Coming out of that session, I realized that although I had been briefed on DiSC® right after I first took the assessment, it hadn’t gone any further than that. TEN7 had held a DiSC® workshop before my time, but our team had changed a lot since then, so we needed to revisit it. With our newly evolved team structure, it was time for us to re-learn how to be the best possible team we could be. (You might recall that one of my Ops Camp learnings was, We should really get to know each other better.)
The workshop went swimmingly. Some of us who were initially skeptical or uninterested ended up really enjoying the session. I realized this was going to be the case as we started diving deeper into individuals’ DiSC® reports, and we began to express amazement at just how accurate these reports were. They were describing us almost to a T! And while we certainly learned a lot about each other’s working styles throughout the workshop, we learned even more about each other as human beings. At both a DiSC® and a human level, these were our results:
Our Team is Abundantly Aware
There were no big surprises during the workshop. No shouts of, I didn’t know that about you! or even I didn’t know this about myself! In reality, we all know ourselves and each other pretty well. We recognize that certain team members are more direct than others, while others are more accommodating or enthusiastic. And this personal awareness is part of what makes us such a great team. It makes us more mindful of our individual needs and preferences, which in turn creates a safe and pleasant work environment where everyone feels comfortable enough to be exactly who they are.
We Lean Heavily Into the “S” Quadrant, but We’re a Diverse Group
Although every person is a mix of different styles, we all have a dominant style that drives the way we operate. In my case, and in many others, that’s the “S” style. People with this style tend to have calm, deliberate dispositions, they’re accommodating, patient and tactful, among other qualities. There’s a great TEN7 podcast with Eric Zakovich from a few years back, in which he describes DiSC® and each of the styles in detail, if you’re interested in learning more.
Although we find a lot of our team hanging out in the “S” quadrant, we’re a diverse group, and our team is scattered among all the styles. Conclusion: we’re balanced, and we understand how to work with different types of people.
We Generally All Feel Aligned with TEN7’s Mission and Values
This one is top of mind, as we’ve recently rolled out our newly reworked company Mission & Values. During the workshop, someone commented that they were really happy to learn about our values, because it makes them want to work here.
As the workshop carried on, I heard things like I might come off as harsh, but it doesn’t mean anything! and I really like mentoring people, and I like shining a light on other people and what they've contributed. The more our team unveiled the qualities associated with their own personal work styles, the more it became clear that we all care a lot about each other and the work we do. Again and again, we echoed the fact that we all really respect each other and want to be here.
Each One of us Is an Equally Valuable and Unique Part of the TEN7 Team
As we learned during our workshop, no one DiSC® style is better than another. Different, yes. But it’s those differences that help us grow and make better decisions and come up with interesting, new ideas. We heard from one team member that he will sometimes shy away from taking risks for fear of doing the wrong thing. This brings us back to our team’s innate self-awareness, because, knowing this about himself, this person will usually ask for a second opinion on how to implement a new feature on a website, for example. And when he does this, he sometimes uncovers that a seemingly riskier solution will better serve the task at hand.
This kind of collaboration is a huge strength of our team. We’re more interested in doing what’s ultimately best vs. going it alone... in collective vs. individual success.
Once You Understand DiSC®, You Can Figure Out How to Work Well With Just About Anyone
At the end of our workshop, we did a fun exercise where we tried to analyze where some of our clients fall on the DiSC® spectrum. Although we can’t confirm our speculation without an official assessment, once you understand how the system works, it’s pretty intuitive to figure out the styles of people you know. My husband, for instance, is a clear C, probably closer to a CD.
The benefit of analyzing people outside of our small circle of team members is that if we can understand others’ needs, we can adapt our behavior to account for them. This isn’t to say that we’ll change who we are on a fundamental level. Only that we can be more mindful of how we communicate in order to make sure our clients, partners and others are getting what they need from us.
We didn’t necessarily learn anything groundbreaking about each other. However, this workshop was a great way to affirm the assumptions we’d already made about each other. And more than that, we gained new insight into things like how we each prefer to be communicated with, what bothers us and things we can work on. At a very minimum, it got an important conversation going, one that we’ll continue well into the future.