Two key elements of any Super Team are communication and teamwork. These are two cornerstones of great teams, but also great innovation, great leadership, and great successes. We often spend too much time thinking about the next great software that will improve our business processes that we skip looking at the most important factor in any organization, the people.
There are two sayings, by great people, that remind me of the importance of the fusion of teamwork and communication:
- "In the last analysis, what we are communicates far more eloquently than anything we say or do." - Stephen Covey
- "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success." - Henry Ford
My interpretation of Ford’s message is that success is defined by working together and Covey’s message is that our communication is from inside each of us and is not purely stated or actioned.
The definition of a disc, in information technology terms, is optical media that stores information for future use. Often this information is stored permanently and is quite hard to change. Each of us has our own disc, our brain, which stores huge amounts of information about us including but not limited to our knowledge, thoughts, experiences, etc. One of the biggest challenges for any high performing team is for individuals to get this information (about us) out of our head and into the heads of others. We need to be able to clearly provide transparency about our wants, needs, skills and styles of communication so we can put our team together like pieces of a puzzle; pieces that fit together perfectly to form a much larger picture or purpose.
Ironically, there is a tool that can help us understand where we fit together with our team and others appropriately named DISC. The DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on work research performed by physiologist William Moulton Marston (1928). His research concluded four main behavior types: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. His work was further fine-tuned by industrial psychologist Walter Clarke (1956). There are many such tools that test behaviors but this is one that I have found to be especially good for improving communications, helping people understand each other, and most importantly understanding more about themselves. Based on my experience, the main advantages of this tool are:
- Many decades of research and fine-tuning (reliable results)
- Fast and easy to take
- Inexpensive to utilize
- Clear concise standardized report for each person tested
I have been part of teams where all team members have taken the DISC profile, reviewed the output report individually, and then worked with a facilitator to review the reports together in a team environment. It’s amazing how much a team can grow together when there is transparency and understanding amongst the members. The DISC report helps you better understand your personal communication style, your personal motivating factors, and in general your personality traits. By sharing reports with your team members, you can provide better transparency and help people better understand the best ways to communicate with you appropriately. Of course, by reading your own report you can better understand your personal assets and liabilities from a communication and behavior perspective. In many cases, the reports provide that "Aha Moment" about yourself and by taking the time to read the report you take time to reflect on your skills and areas for development.
Additionally, the DISC reports can be utilized to help teams identify the best mix of members for project teams. For example, you don't want a six-member team, analyzing six months of invoicing data, to be made up of six members who all have competitive and aggressive personalities with little to no desire for systematic and detailed analysis. You need a good mix of leaders, analysts, people who are dependable and loyal and others that are able to persuade people in order to accomplish and/or present the project. To truly leverage the abilities of the team you need a good mix and match of the appropriate team members, DISC can help you to identify and choose the right team members.
The DISC is not a “be-all, end-all” to team and communication enhancement; it is one of many tools available to the Super User Community. The DISC “test” and report help get people talking to each other so the team can go beyond coming together and keeping together but really move to working together through mutual understanding and respect.
For further details on DISC, perform a simple browser search for “DISC Profile”; there are a number of companies that provide the testing, reporting, and training related to the DISC Personality Profile.