American Psychologist, Abraham Maslow wrote in 1966, "I remember
seeing an elaborate and complicated automatic washing machine for
automobiles that did a beautiful job of washing them. But it could do
only that, and everything else that got into its clutches was treated as
if it were an automobile to be washed. I suppose it
is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail."
Maslow is referring to the 'law of the instrument', a cognitive bias that involves an over-reliance on a familiar tool.
And the familiar tool that trainers and consultants everywhere over rely on is the communication style profile - the DISC assessment, a tool that's produced by thousands of companies all over the world and used by millions for numerous purposes. From wanting to know more about an individual's behavior style to finding the right fit for a particular job, and everything in between, DISC is an important and vital tool.
But as Maslow noted, any tool that's as popular and widespread as this can be overused, and common mistakes and misconceptions arise. I want to share with you the 10 most common DISC Assessment mistakes and myths, and provide solutions and truth for each. Download a PDF of these 10 Mistakes and Myths, Here.
Mistake/Myth #1: DISC is a complete personality profile.
While DISC is commonly perceived as a type of personality test (because it's often incorrectly marketed this way), it's actually a behavioral assessment. Understanding this difference is vital. DISC explores four traits within our personality, but the term "personality" is an all-encompassing word that goes far beyond the scope of four DISC behavioral traits.
Personality is much more than behavior and includes things like values, beliefs, sense of humor, character, ethics, temperament, emotional maturity, thought process and communication style. DISC is not a complete measure of who we are, but simply one aspect of what makes us unique. It describes the "how" we prefer to act and communicate.
Mistake/Myth #2: All DISC suppliers are offering the same product.
The DISC theory originally created by William Marston has evolved into many different versions sold around the world; each using different terminology, questionnaires, training methods, and of course, levels of accuracy. Many of the major sellers of DISC around the world only offer one product - DISC. As shared in Mistake #1, this approach is limiting.
It's critical to examine multiple angles and dimensions of human performance including behaviors, motivation, competencies, acumen and emotional intelligence. This provides individuals with better understanding of others and a broader method to be more effective in the workplaces.
Mistake/Myth #3: DISC tells you who will be a superstar or dud performer.
Probably the most common error made in using the DISC model occurs when someone assumes that a DISC profile will explain whether or not a person will succeed or fail in a job. DISC only measures common behavioral tendencies — not skills. DISC does not predict job success. A person with any type of DISC profile can succeed in any type of profession. It's important to remember DISC is only one part of the total picture and there are many other elements that affect job performance.
Mistake/Myth #4: Making general assumptions based solely on primary behavioral style.
Behavioral style is just one of many indicators of a person's potential behavior, but it is only one factor. For example, some sales people believe it is important for people in their trade to have a high influence score, commonly known in DISC language as a "high I." The logic is straightforward enough: people with a high influence score like interacting with people; sales/leading is all about interacting with people. Therefore, high l's are built for selling and/or leading.
Many high l's are good at dealing with people — they can be friendly, sociable, warm and enthusiastic — but others aren't. Some high l's can be selfish, shallow, disruptive, unruly, impulsive and noisy. Therefore, not all people with a high influence score behave the same way. The difference may be found in a what in a person values, their sales/leadership skills and experience, and how they think and make decisions.
It's clear that we have a bit of a theme going
here - measure more than DISC style to get an accurate picture of how a person will perform.
Mistake/Myth #5: There isn't proof that assessments are accurate.
Mistake/Myth #6: The results can be manipulated.
Mistake/Myth #7: Taking an assessment is time consuming.
Mistake/Myth #8: Assessments can be discriminatory.
Mistake/Myth #9: Assessment results don't change.
Mistake/Myth #10: Assessments are too expensive.