Background of Behavioural Instruments
Throughout the ages, Man has been trying to explain the behaviour of
their counterparts. Back in 444 B.C., the Empedocles 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 psychological
types of personality: Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition, that
affects a person’s behaviour. 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 and 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.
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
“I” and “S” type people who are more people-oriented
may be more suitable for the position.
Building a Team
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 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
presenting 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.
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.
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
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
Profiling instruments, which are not delivered by trained psychologists
and doctors, are intended for people under normal circumstances. To
measure behaviour 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
behaviour. 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 behaviour by teaming
up with the right people, and by adjusting our behaviour to suit the
people we are dealing with.