Leveraging the DISC Model for Talent Management Strategy

CoachHub · 4 August 2022 · 5 min read

Have you ever wished you had the ability to see inside the minds of your employees in ways that could help your organization improve its talent management strategy? Curious about how gaining insight into your own and your employees’ behavioral and personality traits can help improve workplace culture, maximize performance and benefit your business in other ways?

Good news! Although it’s not possible to read minds, the DISC model of behavior combined with corporate coaching comes pretty close. Plus, doing both are great for optimizing your overall business strategy.

What is the DISC behavioral model?

The DISC behavioral model is one of many popular psychometric tests used by individuals, corporations and human resources professionals for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Self-improvement
  • Leadership training
  • Team building
  • Evaluating job applicants
  • Attracting and retaining talent

The American Psychological Association (APA), defines psychometrics as the study of psychological testing, measurement and analysis. This includes the design and improvement of tests, questionnaires and other measurement instruments.

The DISC assessment evaluates and categorizes an individual’s behavioral style into four main DISC styles (or types):

  • Dominance (D): Individuals with a strong D style tend to be good at seeing the entirety of a situation or problem and are confident, demanding and results oriented.
  • Influence (I): Individuals with strong I style value influencing and persuading others and are often eager, social and personable.
  • Steadiness (S): The S style individual values honesty and teamwork, and is often measured, patient and empathetic.
  • Conscientiousness (C): Individuals with a C style value precision, excellence and ability. They usually prefer to be independent and can often be detail oriented and rule focused.

DISC assessment scores usually combine two of the four styles together. The more prominent trait appears first and the secondary trait second. There are 16 “DISC types.” For a more detailed explanation of the DISC model, see our article on DISC assessments.

Recruiters using DISC for talent management

Is the DISC model better than other psychometric tests?

If you’re in the United States, you may be more familiar with another psychometric test––the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). The popularity of the MBTI is enormous. The test itself is the star of online videos and social media memes. Some people share their MBTI personality types in the same way they share their astrological signs.

Regardless, it’s still a widely used talent assessment tool in the corporate world. There are other psychometric tests as well. According to this New York Times article, personality testing is a $500 million industry, with many new tests coming onto the market. However, the two most used assessments are still DISC and MBTI.

One type of test isn’t better than the other, and the two work well as part of a combined corporate talent management strategy. To read a more in-depth analysis of the differences between DISC and MBTI, see our article on DISC versus MBTI.

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Ways to use the DISC model to improve your talent management strategy

In addition to making the DISC behavioral model part of your onboarding process, there are ways to leverage DISC assessments to improve your talent management strategy and maximize human capital. Understanding how each one of your employees thinks, communicates and approaches their work is invaluable. It can help you and your workforce in many ways, including:

  • Communicate better
  • Collaborate better
  • Resolve differences more effectively
  • Improve your corporate training initiatives

Therefore, assessment tools such as the DISC model help improve your employer brand. Plus, they can be useful recruiting and retention tools when used properly.

When everyone understands themselves and each other, including their differences, an organization can see how everyone’s strengths and unique attributes combine. As such, the DISC model can help you build on your diversity and inclusion efforts when used the way it’s designed to be used. However, the assessment tools can be misused, especially without proper knowledge and experience.

Does psychometric testing help or hinder company diversity and inclusion efforts?

Before moving on to how to incorporate coaching with the DISC model, let’s briefly examine whether companies should be concerned about the effect psychometric testing could have on diversity and inclusion efforts. There is some controversy over the use of psychometric testing as part of the hiring process. The controversy extends to decisions about promotions based on personality and behavior tests.

There have been studies, articles and documentaries on issues of discrimination, exclusion and bias related to the use of the MBTI and DISC model in the employee screening process. Disability communities are particularly concerned. There are ethical and legal concerns when these assessments are used to evaluate who is a worthy job candidate for a company or suitable for a particular role within the organization. Their use during hiring can even extend to deciding whether an employee is eligible for leadership positions and other types of promotion.

There is also evidence that untrained professionals tend to interpret psychometric test results with a subconscious bias toward people who are similar to themselves. Hiring managers might also exclude people who don’t match company leaders’ beliefs about which personality traits are more suited to a particular position. For example, a senior manager may believe that extroverts are better at sales than introverts, or that all C-level managers must be driven, aggressive, “Type A” personalities. Indeed, the MBTI has explicit ethical guidelines for how to use its test, including not using it for hiring purposes.

How can coaching using the DISC model influence talent management strategy?

For organizations that wish to incorporate the DISC model into their talent management strategy, corporate coaching is essential. A professional coach with certification and experience in using the DISC model can work through any issues related to diversity and inclusion.

Furthermore, coaching can help leaders, managers and HR teams identify their own internal biases. It can also help them learn to be more open and understanding of people who don’t look and act like they do.

Investing in face-to-face learning, distance training  and games in conjunction with DISC assessments and other types of corporate coaching is crucial. It will help your business build a more positive company culture that embraces unique traits and abilities and includes people from diverse backgrounds with varying experiences and points of view.

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