All teams can face challenges, especially when you have diverse personality types within the same group. The good news? As a leader, there are tools available to help you identify and address the root causes behind these common team problems and thus increase the effectiveness of your team.
One such tool is the DISC assessment, an acronym for Drive, Influence, Support, and Clarity. The DISC profile gives leaders insight into the behavioral patterns, motivations and communication styles of each team member. It's a great way to understand why certain problems are happening so you can take steps to create harmony and improve performance within the team.
Today we’re looking at six common team problems and how you can solve them with DISC.
1. Poor communication
Effective communication is key to the success of any team – an astonishing number of workplace misunderstandings stem from poor communication. When team members are not speaking the same language, they end up feeling like their opinions are not valued or they don’t understand what’s expected of them.
Luckily, the DISC assessment can help. Depending on someone’s DISC style, they might feel more comfortable emailing their ideas directly to a manager rather than sharing them during a brainstorming session. Or, they might prefer to have everything written down for clarity before going into a discussion. Knowing what communication style works best for each team member can help you foster a safe and welcoming space where communication can flow easily.
Tips for success:
- When dealing with a Drive type, make sure you communicate in a straightforward manner. Drive types may lose respect for those who beat around the bush.
- Influence personalities can be a valuable asset to motivate your team and keep everyone focused on the end goal. Have them lead group discussions and brainstorming sessions to get everyone’s creative juices flowing.
- If you have a Support type in your team, consider having them as a moderator. Their listening and conflict-management skills can come in handy when dealing with diverse personalities.
- Explain your plans in detail to the Clarity types in your team. People with a Clarity style ask a lot of "why" questions, so come prepared to back up your reasons.
2. Lack of trust
There’s no team without trust. In fact, when the people on your team don’t trust each other, or you as a leader, it directly impacts the quality of their work. This lack of trust can also manifest as low motivation and create a tense workplace environment.
A general tip to overcome trust issues in the workplace is to lead by example. Your team will take cues from you and your actions, so try to be consistent in the way you behave and the values you represent.
With DISC, however, it’s possible to take trust-building a step further. Knowing the behavior and work style of each person on your team helps you craft individualized messages that speak directly to their needs. This can be especially useful when dealing with skepticism and misunderstandings, as it allows you to express your concerns in a way that is most likely to be received positively.
Tips for success:
- Drive personalities expect you to set an example and put your money where your mouth is. Model the behavior you expect and then back away – Drive types dislike micromanagement.
- Influence personalities thrive on praise and recognition so make sure you take the time to thank them for their efforts and encourage them to open up if they are struggling.
- Show compassion and seek the counseling skills of the Support people on your team. They can be invaluable in helping you increase cooperation and mutual respect within the team.
- Clarity types need structure and clear instructions to be able to trust you, trust their peers and trust themselves. Be transparent about your intentions and explain your thought process to Clarity types.
3. Conflict avoidance
It’s easy to overlook potential issues and sweep them under the rug when everyone is getting along, but this strategy can only get you so far. When the team avoids conflict as a rule, it creates an environment where only ‘safe’ topics can be discussed and people don’t feel comfortable raising uncomfortable issues. It can also lead to resentment and passive-aggression, which can be more difficult to address in the long run.
The DISC assessment can help you identify potential sources of conflict and create strategies for addressing them before they become a problem. Nipping unproductive disagreements in the bud quickly, while leaving space to work through productive disagreements, is essential for building team cohesion in the long run.
Tips for success:
- Drive types can often be the loudest voices in the room. Make sure you’re opening the conversation to the rest of the team and creating a space where everyone's opinions can be heard.
- Discourage gossip. Influence types tend to do this and it can create tension among other team members.
- When providing feedback to a Support type, focus on what’s going well first. This will help them feel comfortable and more open to constructive criticism.
- Clarity types will appreciate an honest and direct approach when addressing disagreements. Focus on facts over feelings and encourage the often-reticent Clarity person to voice their concerns.
4. Unclear goals
Different personality styles have different priorities and needs. For Clarity personalities, details are important, and they deliver their best work when there are clearly defined goals. Drive types tend to prioritize objectives over line items on the to-do list, while Support personalities usually do better when working on one task at a time. When it comes to Influence types, they can play a role in celebrating, and recognizing when goals are met.
Bottom line? No matter the DISC style, it’s important that everyone on your team knows what’s expected of them and to whom they can report questions.
Tips for success:
- Explain to Drive personalities on your team what results they should be aiming for. These types are good at taking the initiative and using their time effectively, as long as they know what you want them to achieve.
- For Influence types, be sure to set very clear parameters and milestones. These types struggle to stay focused on one task for an extended period, so break larger projects into smaller goals to help them stay on course.
- Consider implementing collaborative project management software. This will allow the Support types on your team to track their progress and know what's expected of them.
- Be thorough when detailing information about an upcoming project to a Clarity type. They need clear and precise instructions to get going, so make sure you give them all the facts they need.
5. Low engagement
If you start noticing that certain members of your team are apathetic or missing deadlines, it might be time to investigate what’s happening. Do you have an Influencer who is not meeting people, building relationships or rallying people around a goal? Maybe someone is dealing with a personal issue that’s affecting their work?
Whatever it is, get to the heart of the issue. A general rule of thumb to stir up team engagement is to promote a culture of recognition so that everyone can feel valued for their work. The DISC assessment can help you uncover what each team member needs to feel recognized, valued and fulfilled.
Tips for success:
- Drive personalities will appreciate tangible rewards such as a bonus or promotion. They also feel more valued if you are receptive to their ideas and willingly accept feedback from the Drive types on your team.
- Influence personalities will respond well to words of gratitude and praise from their peers and supervisors. Take time to engage in water cooler conversation with Influence types so you can pepper in recognition when they do something impressive.
- Support personalities need to feel they are making a contribution. Let Support types know that their work is appreciated and valued by the rest of the team.
- Clarity types need to be shown that their hard work is noticed and appreciated. Reward them with opportunities for development or additional responsibility.
According to Psychology Today, groupthink happens when “a group of well-intentioned people makes irrational or non-optimal decisions spurred by the urge to conform or the belief that dissent is impossible.” While having everyone on your team reach a mutual consensus may look ideal, the phenomenon of groupthink eliminates any chance of hearing other equally valuable viewpoints for cohesiveness’s sake.
To avoid groupthink, it is important to not rush the decision-making process and to guarantee that every perspective is heard and risks are evaluated. By using DISC assessment, you can also adapt your approach to the needs of each of your team members. Drive types expect to be included in the decision-making process, for example, while Support folks may need more time to process and make a decision.
Tips for success:
- Explain to Drive personalities why their input is necessary and how it can benefit the team – even if the matter seems trivial to them. At the same time, look out for Drive-type dominance. Encourage the more vocal Drive personalities to listen to other opinions.
- Influence types may brainstorm a lot of underdeveloped ideas – avoid discarding them immediately as they may turn out to be useful. Be curious before being critical.
- Quieter Support personalities need to be given the right atmosphere and support to share their thoughts. Encourage them in a non-intimidating way.
- Clarity types have a keen eye for the downside. Ask them what they think are the pitfalls of the preferred choice, and what they would do to improve it.
As a leader, understanding these six common team problems and addressing them early on is crucial for running a successful team. DISC assessment is an excellent tool for recognizing and understanding the different needs of each team member, allowing you to better leverage their strengths and bring out their best work.