Good team building promotes productivity, collaboration, and efficient task management between teams. Each member has unique strengths that impact one another in different ways. That, in turn, influences how HR and management hire for teams and affects team leads’ decisions on how to structure teams, delegate work, and set responsibilities for each member.
To assemble strong teams, members must correlate with each other’s skills, work ethics, behaviors, and personalities. If you hire individuals with the same strengths, you’ll end up with an unbalanced team. As such, you want to complement rather than perfectly match how people work together.
DiSC assessments are one way to put together diverse and effective teams by mapping traits that define how people approach work. Keep reading to learn about this psychology-backed test and how it can produce cohesive, skill-rich teams for your organization.
DiSC traits and how they fit together
The DiSC personality assessment is a tool designed to identify individual strengths as well as developmental opportunities in team interactions. It aligns people based on one of four behavioral traits, allowing you to gauge approximately how they perform and work. The four traits are:
- Dominance – The “D” trait profiles people’s assertiveness, problem-solving skills, and self-control. Individuals with high D scores are decisive and direct go-getters who want results. As such, they can be domineering and demanding, especially with people who have lower D scores. They’re also task oriented, outgoing, and competitive, which is why they often end up in leadership roles. However, they might not be the best fit for strategy or people management.
- Influence – “I” measures how well people communicate, inspire and interact with others and drive interest — sometimes mistaken for impulsivity. Individuals with high “I” scores are people oriented and outgoing; they’re enthusiastic, optimistic, and almost always friendly. That makes them great communicators on a team, but they tend to lack task focus and direction.
- Steadiness – “S” details patience, persistence, and thoughtfulness, which reflects stability, supportiveness, and sincerity, although people with strong “S” scores can also be sensitive and slow-paced. Typically though, high “S” individuals are genuine, patient, and modest. They’re people oriented and reserved, which makes them good peacekeepers and able to remain on task during longer projects.
- Conscientiousness – The “C” trait looks at how carefully and thoughtfully people approach their work, although this is sometimes viewed as calculation and condescension. People who score high in the “C” category are task oriented and reserved, focusing on accuracy and contemplation before finishing tasks. Because of this, they usually excel at the strategy or planning element of a team.
Each of these is a generalization of broad factors, meaning it’s not exact. As such, you can’t rely on DiSC alone to decide if someone should or shouldn’t be in a certain role; you can only use the assessment to map potential strengths and weaknesses and predict how well that person will work with others.
How does DiSC define a “good” team?
An ideal team should feature each DiSC trait to varying degrees. Many people score highly on some or all of them while others on just one. It’s important to keep in mind that dominance and steadiness are opposites, as are influence and conscientiousness, meaning each needs the other to balance out.
General teams, for example, would benefit from at least one or two of each personality trait reflected as a high score. If you know there’s only one member with a high score in a specific trait, you can take steps to ensure the others know how to cooperate with them in a meaningful way. Depending on which trait or traits an employee leans toward, you can maximize their potential by honing in on their dominant “style”:
- C-Style – Are they working with the team rather than by themselves? Do they have tools to give feedback to team members in ways that don’t sound overly critical? Do their fellow members perceive them as critical?
- S-Style – Do they provide information and contribute during team meetings? Do they have the tools for critical assessment? Are they aware of change management strategies so they stay open to adjustments?
- D-Style – Do they give others room to talk and share? Are they aware of the value their team members deliver? Do they have the skills to communicate empathetically rather than bluntly? Do team members see them as domineering and rude?
- I-Style – Do they have the tools to focus on data and actionable goals rather than keeping their head in the clouds or trying to deliver too much? Do they understand processes and daily routines? Are they able to sit and listen to problems and process them critically? Do others see them as a people pleaser?
Even on a well-rounded team, personalities can clash. People can misunderstand each other, approach problems with differing viewpoints, and have different priorities. While harmonious interactions are impossible all the time, you can minimize friction by assembling teams with the right balance of DiSC traits.
Building teams for different purposes
Each team has a unique focus, drive, and goals that you must keep in mind when you put together new groups or hire new members with a specific purpose. However, you should also consider the types of personalities that would complement the team’s responsibilities. For example:
- C-style teams are slow-paced, methodical, and task-focused. They’re ideal for performing maintenance, crafting strategy, and managing quality assurance.
- D-style teams work quickly and are task-focused and self-driven. As such, they’re highly suited to innovation and creativity (e.g., a feature roadmap) or working in task-driven roles.
- S-style teams are conscientious and communicative, which makes them ideal for task-oriented roles where people rely on each other (such as paperwork), sticking to longer projects, and maximizing members’ skill sets.
- I-style teams are people-focused and inspirational. They excel at innovation, developing new ideas, promoting others’ creativity, and inspiring projects.
In most cases, you should avoid teams made up of people who only score well in one personality trait. However, keep in mind that some teams benefit from specific traits more than others, depending on their purpose:
- Maintenance teams – C- and I-style personalities excel, while D- and S-styles may get bored.
- Problem-solving/Innovation – D- and I-styles do well, although you may need high C scores for quality assurance.
- Cross-functional – Try to include a little of everything, as you’ll need peacekeepers and people who are strong in communication to maintain team productivity.
Define your ideal team’s strengths and weaknesses, then assemble your members based on the skills needed to succeed and complementary personalities.
DiSC can also help build virtual teams. For example, if you know D- and I-style individuals are likely to want face-to-face contact, try to put together virtual teams that are C- and S-style dominant. In the same vein, you don’t have to reject a potential hire if they fail to exhibit the communication competencies you want. Instead, give people with face-to-face communication preferences opportunities for video and office visits to accommodate their needs.
The DiSC personality framework allows you to map general behavioral strengths and weaknesses in employees and candidates. You can then use that to align team building with personalities and behaviors, as well as ensure teams with specific skills gaps have the tools to remediate or compensate for those weaknesses. In most cases, a team with balanced DiSC traits is the best option.
Pinpoint each individual’s strengths to find their best role fit. For example, D-style people are very self-driven and self-motivated, which makes them ideal for working from home. C-style individuals excel at detailing quality assurance checks. S-style employees keep your team on track and inspired to finish projects. Lastly, I-style members deliver inspiration, good communication, and empathy across the team.
Strong team building requires an understanding of the individuals who make up each team and the advantages their personalities and behaviors contribute, as well as how to ensure those behaviors complement the team. Let the DiSC assessment guide you through this process to find your most productive pairings.