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The Power of DISC During Change

Change is an important and necessary part of organisational functioning and subsequent success. Changes can be small, such as re-working daily processes and procedures for one team. Conversely, change can be more transformative and driven by innovation, growth, restructuring and mergers, compliance/regulations and more.

Typically, when employees and stakeholders hear about a new change effort, they will resist. It’s a natural human response. In fact, one of the reasons that change efforts fail and do not realise the return on investment is because leaders do not take into account the human side of the transformation.

One way to reduce the complexity of the human side of organisational change is to understand human behaviour as well as preferences across a variety of org change factors. Applying what we know about the behavioural model, DISC, is a great way to support leaders, stakeholders and recipients of change.

Why Explore DISC?

If you’re not familiar with DISC, it is an acronym for: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. DISC is a behavioural model and assessment tool that helps us understand some of the ways we respond to challenges (D), people (I), pace (S) and procedure (C) along a spectrum from low to high.

This tool can be applied during periods of organisational change to support a number of activities: Change leadership, Decision making, Stakeholder engagement and relationships, Communications, Managing resistance to change.

Using DISC as a tool during organisational change can help to locate and highlight our strengths to lead, support and enable business change. DISC can also help us to recognise and manage our potential limitations during periods of change.

It’s important to know that one’s DISC style does not dictate whether or not they are capable of change; rather, it is an indication of how they respond to the challenges, people, pace and procedures that come into play with organisational change.

This article highlights some of the general characteristics of the low and high ends of the spectrum for each factor, as well as how to use DISC to support decision making during change.

DISC General Characteristics in Response to Organisational Change

When you know someone’s DISC profile, you can identify the defining characteristics that make up how they respond to organisational change. Every style of person adds value to the organisational change process. Similarly, it’s important to understand that each style has strengths and potential limitations during periods of change as well.

DISC General Characteristics in Response to Organisational Change

How to Support Decision Making

Many Change Programs have an Executive Sponsor, who takes on the role of owning or being responsible for the result of the program. An Executive Sponsor is an active and visible organisational leader, who champions the proposed changes through support, action and communication. Consequently, the sponsor plays a critical role in the success of the change.

Based on your Executive Sponsor’s primary style, the following points indicate how to use DISC to support decision making.

D: Give them a sense of control of the process by providing options with different change activities or interventions. Identify the options’ costs and expected results and return.

I: Support their personal ideas, opinions and intuitions about rolling out change. Focus on the big picture of how people we respond to and provide feedback on the changes.

S: Draw out their opinion. Support their interests in reinforcing relationships and loyalty with customers. Identity clearly what will remain the same in and amongst the changes.

C: Provide them with data and analysis (and allow them to investigate your work). Provide quality change frameworks with proven methods for getting results.

DISC is a powerful tool that provides a neutral language for discussing our unique contributions during periods of change - whether a planned program or unplanned transition period. For more information about DISC or applying it in your business, you are welcome to get in touch with us.

Temre Green, PhD

Temre Green, PhD

Head of Consulting Services, Australia & New Zealand. Temre has designed, planned and delivered business strategy and transformation programs that were driven by a range of factors, such as innovation, growth, compliance, regulations, restructures and economic downturns. As an Industrial-Organisational Psychologist, Temre has spent her career dedicated to organisational behaviour and the work environment. She is currently focused on the future of work and multiple areas of organisational development that support organisational growth and health.

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