I can’t hear you! (Try this;)


Photo by Striatic

Have you ever felt like you just can’t get through to some people?  That the line of communication just isn’t working?  It’s frustrating on a personal level, but it can be a killer when it comes to small business success!

Of course the best time to work on a potential issue is before it actually becomes a problem.  With that in mind, one of my clients recently asked about doing a team assessment and communication exercise to help get everyone closer to the same wavelength.  We decided to use Extended DISC assessments and a Team Analysis as a tool to educate everyone and get the ball rolling towards better communication.

What is Extended DISC?

If you’re not familiar with Extended DISC, it’s a behavioral assessment tool that’s based on extensive research that goes all the way back to the early 1900s with the first formal assessments in the 1950s.  Variations of DISC have been used by millions all over the world and have been proven effective across all languages and cultures.  At Aspire we’ve found Extended DISC to be an easy, cost effective tool that quickly helps people understand their behavioral style…and with the Team Analysis they will also understand the overall make-up of their co-workers and the team in general.

The core behind all of DISC type assessments is a 4 quadrant model (as seen below) that uses a fairly simple set of questions to place where you fit on the matrix.  As you can see, the different quadrants behave and look at things very differently.

As an example, someone who is a high ‘D’ style (which fits a lot of entrepreneurs) tends to be very decisive and demanding and they are comfortable moving forward without all of the facts.  By contrast, someone who is a high ‘C’ style wants needs to have all of the details and take the time to process things.  If you put a high ‘D’ and a high ‘C’ in a room together, there are guaranteed to be issues unless one or both of them is willing to adapt their natural styles.

What my Client learned

Through this process, a few things really jumped out for my client and to his team.

1. Not a balanced team:  A quick glance at the team analysis showed the business owner on the right side of the matrix (denoting a focus on people and the big picture)…and every other person on the team on the left side (denoting a focus on tasks and details).  The team works as it is for now, but they are missing some important perspectives.  Long term it would be best to have all of the quadrants covered by the employees…which may drive to some different priorities for the next new hire for this group.

2. Need to address differences:  Because there is such a sharp difference in style between the business owner and all of the employees, it’s important for the owner and the employees to recognize those style differences and adjust accordingly.  As an example, the owner…true to his style…doesn’t focus on details in client meetings, so it’s critical that someone else is responsible for the appropriate documentation and follow-up for those clients.

3. A chance to understand themselves:  The other big take-away for everyone was a great opportunity to do some introspection and understand their own behavioral style.  If you’re going to improve communications with others, the first thing you have to understand is your own natural tendencies.

All in all, it was a very productive session and it’s going to give the entire team an ongoing opportunity to openly talk about how to be more effective and productive.  Check out this link if you’d like to learn more about Extended DISC.  If you’d be interested in doing this kind of session for your team – Contact Us and we’d be glad to talk about how this could help you in more detail.

What’s your experience with assessments and using them to improve communications?  Have you used this approach before?  If so, what did you think?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Shawn Kinkade   Kansas City Business Coach