As a small-to-medium sized company grows, it becomes harder to effectively communicate across the organization. Whether within or between departments communications must be optimized for organizations to execute at their peak. The key is to recognize each employee's preferred style of information exchange.
Modern personality assessment models are very good indicators of a person's preferred communication style. When managers don't recognize those inherent differences, misunderstandings often ensue and lead to project delays or worse, conflict. Acknowledging those differences, and working within their parameters, significantly improves the communication flow.
The most respected assessment tool is the DISC Behavioral Model. DISC is an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Stability, and Conscientiousness, the four core personality styles the tool identifies. Recognizing a person's predominant style provides exceptional insight into his/her communication preferences. Here are the key characteristics of each category:
Employees with personalities that fit into the Dominance category tend to be driven, demanding, aggressive, innovative, and competitive. These people are typically goal-oriented and relish personal challenges. When communicating to a person with a Dominance style, observe the following:
- Speak directly and be brief
- Focus on the task and stay on topic
- Approach the issue logically and discuss the desired results
- Identify opportunities, challenges, and obstacles
- Describe win/win situations
- Maintain space between yourself and the employee
Those who fit the Dominance category can facilitate communications by improving their listening skills, becoming more patient, and elaborating with more details.
A common job title for those who rate high in Influence are sales and customer service representatives. These employees are charismatic, inspiring, optimistic, and personable. These are very social people who have a need to verbalize. When communicating to this category, one should:
- Allow initial time for casual conversation
- Have fun and lower the intensity level
- Ask the person to express feelings and opinions
- Seek their creative ideas
Influence personalities may have poor attention to detail and can appear superficial. They have poor follow-through and will often talk "around" a subject. Expect to exercise patience with these employees. Influencers can improve the communication process by becoming more organized and specific in direction and praise.
This style will most likely be found among the company's trainers, marketing staff, and administrative assistants. Their indicators are: adaptable, systematic, patient, predictable, and consistent. They are needs driven - both theirs and those of the people they help. When communicating with a person with high Stability, one will want to:
- Be patient
- Draw out the employee's opinion
- Discuss facts logically
- Be relaxed and schedule sufficient time for discussion
- Indicate how the employee will benefit from the solution
Communications from this style may be non-emotional, indecisive, and lack assertiveness. They will often provide too many details. Those people who indicate Stability should work on their assertiveness and embrace change to improve communication.
People with a core style that is Conscientious are often working as accountants or engineers. They follow rules and are very meticulous and quality-conscious, often to the point of being perfectionists. When communicating with the Conscientious style, it is necessary to:
- Cite data and facts
- Examine every option
- Stay on topic and minimize casual conversation
- Focus on quality
- Avoid "new" solutions in favor of proven ideas
- Respect the employee's personal space
Expect excessive communications from someone high in Conscientiousness. Be patient as they must process all information and will be slow to proceed. Conscientious people should consider improving their patience, building rapport, and becoming more accepting of differences.
By keeping these four styles in mind, managers will be able to offer information that the employee can more readily absorb, thus making communications more effective and productive.