Understanding people -- their behavior, motivations, fears, and challenges -- has long been a necessity for businesses to improve their customer service teams and management performance.
However, most organizations struggle to implement a strategy to capture, evaluate and make use of their employee's personalities in an effective way. Either they haven't thought about it yet or they haven't found a good solution to work it into their customer support process. Either way, there is a lack of awareness of the different behavioral styles and their application in business.
At HubSpot, we use the DiSC assessment to find out how what makes our team members tick, where our strengths and weaknesses lie, and how we can collaborate better.
With this profile, there are four different personality traits which are Dominance (D), Influence (i), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C). DiSC is a straightforward, useful, easy to remember, and unanimously applicable model. It emphasizes individual patterns of behaviors and measures characteristics for each of the four styles.
How Does DiSC Work?
According to the DiSC website, this personality test "measures dimensions of your personality. It does not measure intelligence, aptitude, mental health, or values. DiSC profiles describe human behavior in various situations — for example, how you respond to challenges, how you influence others, your preferred pace, and how you respond to rules and procedures."
Psychologists found that people who have a Dominant (D) style typically show direct and guarded behaviors. They are also fast-paced and task-oriented, whereas people with an Influential (i) style show direct and open behaviors and have a tendency to be fast-paced and people-oriented. Yet people who belong to the category Steadiness (S) typically demonstrate indirect and open behaviors and as such are slower-paced and people-oriented. Individuals with a Conscientious (C) style encompass indirect and guarded behaviors and are inclined to be faster-paced and people-oriented.
Naturally, tensions can arise when people with different styles come together, particularly if none of them accommodates their style to the counterpart.
Even worse, when it comes to business relationships and dealing with customers, it could have a detrimental impact on your business performance. Incompatibilities can lead to tensions, anger, and severe dissatisfaction. To prevent that, your employees should be adequately trained and prepared to adjust and adapt to communicate and work with people of any style.
How to Use DiSC to Manage Your Customer Support Team
Knowing the DiSC theory and taking the DiSC assessment within your organization is a good starting point. But how can you use it to manage your customer support teams?
V LeValley, a customer training manager at HubSpot, says she’s used the DiSC assessments in a previous role and has shared her profile and some high/low points with her team at HubSpot to help them better understand her.
LeValley says, "I have used DiSC to manage my team to have a basic understanding of what motivates them, what demotivates them, and how to present information to them. I lean a lot into the summaries of what the different descriptors are versus just knowing the descriptors when I'm forming teams."
LeValley continues that she uses DiSC profiles to learn:
- How should I approach challenging conversations?
- How do I excited my team and get them engaged?
- How do I motivate my team?
- What makes it hard for them to focus and pay attention?
The theory can be easily taught, and everyone can be trained to spot simple and easily identifiable personality traits. What you need is a system that guides your staff members on where, when, and how these personality styles need to be identified.
Additionally, you can use this personality test as a way to get to know new employees, especially if you're a new manager.
LeValley says, "I've learned about my team sensitivities. It gives you a really nice insight into what makes them tick. And, especially in a virtual world, this is so critical because you can't see anything going down below chest level, so I might be literally peeling my nails off, but above the surface, I'm looking cool and calm. Any insight I can get into what motivates a person is critically important, especially in remote environments."
For LeValley, when she shared her DiSC profile with her team at HubSpot, it was a pivotal moment because her team finally understood more about her enthusiasm and where it comes from.
"My team learned where my drive comes from, and how much of that is just embedded in and innate in me. Additionally, they learned what upsets me and how much I truly want to know if I've offended someone versus what can look like a very cool exterior where maybe I don't slow down to pay as much attention," she explains. "I think it has definitely created increased feedback. I immediately, within the week of sharing, got more feedback, more thank you's for how I approach things."
Ultimately, using a personality assessment like DiSC in your customer service organization can create space for dialogue with new managers and employees alike. LeValley, a new manager at HubSpot, says "With employees that have experienced a lot of change, I think it was really reassuring and in retrospect, I wish I would have done it day one. It was a way to force comfort among people that may not ever meet in person, a way to create dialogue, a way to create forced intimacy in a professional environment that the remote nature of my team prevents."
Over to You
The results of your DISC assessment can improve internal communication and collaboration. Ultimately, when employees feel understood by their managers, it's easier to work together and create a culture of acceptance.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.