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It’s All In The Mind

Ever wonder what your behaviour says about your leadership style? We speak to Human Resources Consultant John Hartigan on DISC profiling and psychometric testing in recruitment.

We’ve all done it. A few seemingly benign sliding scale questions, resulting in a full report on who we are, how we behave, what motivates us, what distracts us. But psychometric testing within recruitment is now a serious and booming business, and for good reason. Understanding who you are as a person, your motives, strengths and weaknesses can only help you become a more effective leader or team member. Understanding who your team are before they’ve even been hired is priceless.

Psychometric testing is a common tool used by recruiters to assess a candidate’s capabilities and behavioural tendencies. Candidates answer a series of questions and, depending on their answers, are designated a particular category distinguished by certain characteristics. One assessment tool used in this space is DISC.

Human Resources Consulting Business and Registered DISC Assessor John Hartigan says “People in general are interested in how the mind works, how people operate and in the plasticity of the brain. Employers and recruitment companies are now using these tools as part of their selection process, as poor recruitment choices have significant consequences for both employees and small businesses.”

What is DISC Profiling?

Often times when describing DISC, people will start with what DISC is not. It is not a measurement of emotional intelligence, personal intelligence, education and training. It’s also not a measurement of one’s experience, personal skills, or world view. What DISC does measure is HOW you do what you do. It is a measure of one’s observable behaviour. It’s also a neutral language, meaning there are no good or bad behaviour styles in the DISC method.

The DISC model of behaviour was first outlined by psychologist William Mouton Marston in his 1928 book, Emotions of Normal People. Marston’s theory stated that behavioural expression of emotions could be categorized into four types (Dominance, Inducement, Submission, Compliance), based on a person’s perceptions of self in relation to his or her environment. Marston believed that understanding your primary behavioural trait would help you understand and manage your experiences and relationships with others.

Today, the DISC assessment is most frequently used in business and government organisations to help teams work more effectively together. Respondents rate a series of behaviour-related statements (eg ‘Getting results is one of my top priorities’ or ‘I like to be involved in group projects’) based on how strongly they agree or disagree with each.

What are the benefits to DISC Profiling in recruitment and team building?

Like other personality or behaviour-assessment tools, DISC works by helping the individual become more self-aware or how to interact with people effectively. This helps recognise and acknowledge the strengths and shortcomings of not only the individual, but also the organisational team.

“Different jobs rely on different kinds of communications,” says John. “DISC profiling helps assist with lining up the right personalities with the right jobs.” In his human resources consultation with businesses, John Hartigan uses principles from the DISC assessment during both the recruitment selection process and also in strengthening team building for business efficacy.

“DISC is a system used to encourage non-judgemental discussion of people’s behavioural differences. Once a candidate has been hired, employees can then attend a workshop where they explore their own personality type and how it fits in with others.”

John points out that businesses strive for a blend of personalities and there is no ‘right’ personality. “Whilst employers may have a preference for a type, our goal is to hire for attitude and train for skills, so a great candidate with a different skillset to what we were looking for may still get the job.”

How is DISC Profiling different to other tests?

The origins of these two assessments are strikingly similar. They both come from shared roots which then branched out and were expanded on by modern day scientists. “While other psychometric tools, including Myer Briggs, tend to be a lot more detailed oriented,” says John. “DISC is the simplest. With only four quadrants, it is designed to be universal and easy to identify. For this reason, with its lack of complication, it’s best for human resource capabilities.

Can you change a person’s profile with training?

“It’s not at all desirable to change a person’s bent”, says John. “Although we are influenced by the job we do, the person needs to make that decision to change themselves. If an extroverted person is put into an introverted role, it is inevitable there will be challenges. Don’t try to artificially change a person. It is preferable to always favour your natural inclinations rather than change.”


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