Sunday, August 30, 2009

New Take on an Old Standard

This week I had my team together for a working session/meeting. There are four of us and since we all work in different places, we only get together in person about 5-6 times a year. Our focus has been on instructional design and course development in past years, but due to some changes in our department our primary responsibility is now leadership and management development. Since that is the case, I thought it would be beneficial for us to explore style assessment tools that we could incorporate into the management training programs we offer. I wanted to find something that would provide rich, practical feedback for our managers, was cost effective, and easy to administer.

I asked my team to research some products and we decided to test drive a tool called Everything DiSC. DiSC has been around for many years. It is a simple tool that offers information to help people understand why they act the way they do - and to some extent - why others do too. It maps behaviors into four basic styles: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S) and Conscientiousness (C). The idea is that we all use a blend of these four styles, but most of us strongly gravitate toward one or two of the styles (My profile is CS). We purchased the "starter kit" for the management version. For a reasonable price, we were able to outfit ourselves with everything we need to administer this tool, and some pretty good follow up training to provide managers on how to apply it in work situations.

The package we purchased included a thumb drive with everything we need to run a DiSC workshop including a leader's guide, printable handouts, and a Powerpoint slide deck with embedded video clips. The slide deck is overkill at 122 slides, but it is easily configurable. The embedded videos are short and to the point. They provide good examples of the styles, with just enough ambiguity to make the behaviors portrayed credible. The profiles are taken online. Participants get their results immediately, with a back up notification going to an in-house administrator (in our case, one of my staff members). The reports are easy to read. They provide feedback on the styles. Since we purchased the management version, they also provide feedback on the impact DiSC styles have on how managers delegate work, develop others, and on the motivational climate they create. My only criticism so far is that instead of direct pricing for profiles, you have to purchase "credits." The number of credits needed to purchase a profile varies based on volume. This is a minor annoyance, but the tool seems great. Our plan is to have a few of our training colleagues take the online profile to give my team a chance to practice debriefing it. We will then incorporate it into a few of our upcoming classes. Check back for updates.

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