Complete Guide to DISC Personality Testing:
How it Works and Why It’s Important

Complete Guide to Testing DISC Personality Types

In this guide, learn all about DISC testing and find out what the DISC personality types are.

Personality testing is a tool that can be used so that we can better understand our employees, our co-workers, and even our bosses.. Human behavior is rarely black and white. That’s why people throughout history, as far back as Hippocrates around 400 BC, studied human behavior. More recently, behavioral models such as Carl Jung’s personality model and Myers-Briggs personality test have become spectacularly popular.

From Jung and later William Moulton Marston came DISC. DISC is another personality test that groups people into four easily understood behavioral types. DISC testing is also widely used in business. It is valid, reliable, and exhibits little bias in its construct. With little training and experience, it helps managers build project teams that are more productive, effective, and collaborative.

Below, we’ll discuss how DISC testing can be accessed and is used in more detail. We’ll also explain the four DISC personality types and how they might impact affect an employee’s performance.

Why Should My Company Use a Personality Test?

89 of the Fortune 100 companies in the US use personality tests to recruit. Popular personality tests now generate as much as $2 billion per year. There are many reasons for this growing utilization in the business community across many industries.

Recruiting

Hiring the wrong person is costly. Thanks to a shortage of shrinking labor pool and a growing skills gap, many companies have become more diligent in their employee screening and selection processes. Personality tests are now used much more frequently during recruiting. Using a personality test to assess job candidates makes the hiring process more accurate and reliable. Your company is able to evaluate everything from work ethic to cognitive skills, emotional intelligence, personality type, and job fit of a candidate.

These personality tests can also identify preferred communication skills – how candidates prefer to communicate with others and their ability to do so. Thus, they are able to decide which candidate would fit best in the job, on the team and within the culture.

An often overlooked benefit of using these employee tests during the pre-employment phase of the hiring process is that it saves money. Screening, hiring, and interviewing is resource-heavy. It consumes a lot of HR and manager time, especially when they interview unqualified candidates. It distracts them from working on activities and with employees that can return a much higher ROI.

Lastly and possibly most important, personality tests add objectivity to the hiring process. The traditional gut-instinct approach to hiring is loaded with conscious bias. As business becomes much more reliant on predictive analytics, personality tests complement the art of interviewing with science of data.  Besides, to compete effectively in the race for talent, hiring managers can’t be blinded or deterred by unintentional conscious bias. Personality tests promote more inclusion and diversity by encouraging a fair and trustworthy screening method.

When implemented effectively, a personality test lowers costs, boosts productivity, and makes selection more accurate.

Streamline Teams

Another popular use of testing is to streamline teams. These tests, especially DISC, can be used with current employees to promote teamwork and performance. If members of a team have a similar world view, they are less likely to have conflict.

Of course, hiring people of one type might make management easier but it doesn’t always lead to higher performance. The most effective teams demonstrate diversity and promote inclusion. Diverse teams promote innovation and growth. Thus, employers can also use personality tests to find a balance between diversity and exclusivity. Personality tests allow managers and team members to recognize and tap the strengths of others as well as confront vulnerabilities before they cause a problem.

Why Should I Use DISC?

The first and best argument for DISC is that many platforms are constructed with business in mind. While a personality test like the Myers-Briggs (MBTI) test is insightful and helpful, its focus in on personal growth and development. It’s a bit more complicated to apply to team-building and communication unless everyone has completed the assessment. DISC has been called the “observable language,” meaning that once you are familiar with the basics, you can often observe what style another person by just watching and listening.  Just try to do that with MBTI without extensive training.

The DISC assessment profiles are optimized for an untrained manager or employee to apply results immediately.  Profiles are written in easy to read format with easy-to-apply recommendations for communicating with others, identifying communication barriers, motivating others, managing others and strengths each individual brings to the team. This means that managers can immediately understand what position the worker is best suited and how to best manage and motivate. It also means that you will be able to immediately identify the value they feel they bring to the team and how to reward and recognize them.

Best of all, implementation is easy and cost effective.  DISC is completed online.  It requires 10 to 15 minutes at the most.  Profiles are available in real-time. Results can be sent to the manager and/or employee. No certification is required but helpful for more advanced team and selection analysis.

DISC Personality Types

There are four DISC personality types. Here’s what you need to know about each one.

Direct

The first personality type in DISC tests is direct. It’s also called dominant by some publishers The direct personality type has a few general characteristics. Direct people tend to be always energized, decisive. They are likely risk takers and problem-solvers.

Direct employees provide a lot of value to the team in that they value time, innovation, and challenge the status quo. Overall, they are likely to pay a lot of attention to results and the bottom line. They are motivated by new challenges, decision-making authority, freedom, and new environments.

This DISC personality type has weaknesses too. Dominant personality styles tend to overstep authority. They also tend to have a short fuse which might come across as argumentative. The extreme “D” might erupt but then calm down quickly like nothing happened. They do not do well with routine tasks, and often over-exert themselves to the extent of burnout (as well as push others to burnout!)

The greatest fear of this personality type is someone taking advantage of them and the emotion driving D behavior is anger.

Influence

The second DISC personality type is influence. Their general characteristics are that they are energized by interacting and persuading others. This means that they are likely to be talkative and enthusiastic.

They tend to be optimistic, persuasive, and display emotions. Their high energy, emotional behavior motivates others and and often leads to creative problem-solving. They enjoy entertaining and promoting a good time.

“I” motivations are praise and friendly environments. They also like freedom from rules. Their main weaknesses are a focus on popularity, inattention to detail, and poor listening skills (if you’re always talking, you can’t be listening!)

Steadiness

The third DISC personality type is steadiness. Individuals from this type are energized by a more routine, steady work environment. This doesn’t mean slow, which some publishers inadvertently infer.  Steady types can also thrive in fast paced environments, as long as there aren’t too many surprised injected into the daily routine. They are accommodators, team players, and predictable.

The value they add to the team is that they are reliable, loyal and compliant to authority. Their motivators are recognition of their loyalty and security. They also prefer achievable goals and lifestyle balance.

Their weaknesses are thus a reluctance to change without time to consider and slow, steady adaptation to change. Some tend to hold grudges especially to those are disloyal. They can bee sensitive to criticism.

Conscientious

The fourth and last DISC personality type is conscientious, also referred to as compliant. Conscientious people are usually cautious. systematic, and hold themselves and others to high standards. They are energized by complying with procedures set by others.

Conscientious types anchor teams in reality. They set the quality bar high and enjoy detailed tasks.

Their weaknesses tend to be a need for clear-cut boundaries and a strong preference for defined procedures. They can be overly protective of information and data, especially those they don’t consider their equal. They also can become defensive when others challenge their analysis.

Final Take

Unlike other personality tests which can includes dozens of traits, there are only four simple DISC personality types. All profiles generated come from combinations of these 4 behavioral types. But even with only four DISC styles, over 60,000 different profiles are possible.

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