Behavior Analysis

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The following article originally appeared in the May 1996 issue of
Newsletter of the Printing and Imaging Association - Mountain States.

by Bill Ferguson, President of The Performance Group

In an earlier article I said, "every organizational accomplishment is dependent on human behavior. Therefore, the one thing managers should know the most about, is behavior". In reality, very few managers understand behavior, yet understanding behavior is a key to performance management.

Have you ever wondered why some people behave the way they do? I know I have. A few years ago I discovered a tool that helps explain behavior. It's called the DISC Profile System.

In 1928 William Marston published The Emotions of Normal People. He described four categories of human behavior. From his pioneering work, others built on it and developed the DISC Behavioral Profile System that helps understand behavior.

The premise of the DISC System is that all people demonstrate some behavior in the four dimensions theorized by Marston. The four dimensions fall into the following categories:

DOMINANCE - CHALLENGE
How you approach and respond to problems and challenges and exercise power.

INFLUENCE - CONTACTS
How you interact with and attempt to influence other to your point of view.

STEADINESS - CONSISTENCY
How you respond to change, variation and pace of your environment.

COMPLIANCE - CONSTRAINTS
How you respond to rules and procedures set by others and to authority.

The DISC measurement system analyzes all of these factors and reveals one's strengths and weaknesses, one's actual behavior, and tendencies toward certain behavior.

Warren Bennis has suggested self-knowledge is a starting point for all great leaders. Behavior research also indicates the most effective people are those who understand themselves and others. The more one understands personal strengths and weaknesses coupled with the ability to identify and understand the strengths and weaknesses of others, the better one will be able to develop strategies to meet the demands of the organization.

There are several things the DISC Profile System is not:

...it's not a measure of INTELLIGENCE
...it's not an indicator of VALUES
...it's not a measure of SKILL or EXPERIENCE
...It's not a measure of EDUCATION or TRAINING

DISC analyzes behavior style; that is, a person's manner of doing things. Since behavior is at times an outward sign of attitude, it's a nice to have an instrument that provides a glimpse of that dimension.

I've primarily used the DISC to help coach performance improvement. A DISC Profile report is first run based on an employee's answer to a 24 word group comparison input form. Then a Supervisor or Manager and the employee use the "Action Plan" section of the DISC report as a focal point for their discussion of performance. The DISC provides an objective perspective and takes some of the employee's denial out of the discussion.

There is also potential to use the DISC Profile to help place people in the right job using a different format report that includes the Supervisor's input on what behavior is required.

There are other diagnostics available including Predictive Index, PDP, and Myers-Briggs, but the DISC Profile Systems provide one of the most easily understood approaches.

If you're not using diagnostics now, you may want to consider them in the future. Remember, organizational performance is the sum of individual performance. To increase individual performance you must change behavior.

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