DISC: What it is and how to use it

DISC: What it is and how to use it

In the first half of the 20th century, William Moulton Marston created the lie detector, a well-known personality theory, and Wonder Woman. 

No, I’m not kidding.

While Wonder Woman is amazing, and the lie detector test is also a pretty cool tool, I’ll focus on Marston’s DISC theory. Personality Tests are used in abundance in personal and professional settings—you’ve likely heard of the well-known Meyers Briggs Test, the recently popular Enneagram Test, and the Big Five. In that family of personality theories and tests, the DISC theory can help you better understand and communicate with your employees. 

Components of DISC

Each letter of DISC stands for a personality type or style. Most people may lean more towards one letter or two letters, but at their core are a mix of multiple. 

D stands for Dominant. Someone dominant is direct, decisive, a problem solver, and a risk-taker. These are the people on your team who will be innovative and aren’t afraid to try something that may fail. These are also the types of people you’ll want in your organization when a quick objective decision needs to be made. They are highly motivated by new challenges and the freedom to try out new things.

I stands for Influence. Someone who is an “I” is enthusiastic, trusting, talkative, persuasive, and optimistic. These are the creative employees you want on your team who will help motivate and inspire others and help tame and solve workplace conflicts. They are sometimes labeled as “emotional,”—which isn’t a bad thing, as this means they possess emotional intelligence that is highly valuable in the workplace. “I’s” are motivated by praise, acceptance, and a friendly environment. 

S stands for Steadiness. Those who have “steadiness” are good listeners, team players, understanding, predictable, and friendly. They add value to the work environment as they are reliable and loyal teammates while also being patient and empathetic. You can count on this person to do well on a team project. They are motivated by their qualities—loyalty and dependability, safety and security, and enjoy completing tasks from start to finish. 

C stands for Compliant. Someone who identifies with “Compliant” is your analytical type—they work with precision and accuracy. These are the members on your team you’ll want for highly detailed tasks, and they’ll also pair nicely with dominant styles when a decision needs to be made, as they are the “anchor of reality.” 

How can I use this in the workplace?

You can purchase the test through various services, but chances are if you are a clued-in manager, you already notice that many of your employees dominantly fall into one of these styles, or they may be able to self-identify themselves. You can use someone's DISC style in many ways—by deciding which tasks to assign, how to communicate better and more effectively with them, and how to identify those who are better for leading projects versus those who would be better as a team player. Lastly, knowing DISC styles can help you make a more comfortable work environment for everyone. For the I's, you can make a note to give them praise for challenging tasks. For the D's, you can reward them with new challenges. For the S's, you can cater to their steady nature by keeping things organized and consistent, and for the C's, you can provide them detailed tasks that are logically organized.

By being attentive to your employee's DISC styles, you can provide them an individualized management style that keeps them happy and engaged in the workplace. A People Analytics tool like Peoplelogic can help you cater to your team members' personalities by providing you individual recommendations that warn you of burnout or lack of engagement. Peoplelogic does this by democratizing data from communication tools your company is already using. By catering to your employee's needs and empowering them in their work, you may just become their own Wonder Woman.


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