I learned a valuable lesson about the Golden Rule recently. My sister’s husband died suddenly and, upon hearing this news, several friends called to say they were on their way over to offer their support. They did what they hoped others would do for them after such a tragedy. But my sister asked her daughter to call these friends and beg them not to come. My sister was more comfortable with a note sent via Facebook or text. What my sister wanted was not the same thing as what some of her friends would have wanted. The Golden Rule just didn’t work here.
For another example, I look at my mother and her best friend, Julie. Julie is always calling Mom and suggesting that they go to a concert, luncheon or other event. Julie tells me that she worries that Mom doesn’t see enough people. Mom tells me that she’s not really interested in these events Julie takes her to, but she knows that they are important to Julie. Mom really enjoys the drive together and Julie enjoys the socializing at the event. Mom follows a modified rule in which she does what she knows the other person would like and finds a way to get her needs met, too.
The Golden Rule is often our first way of judging how we should respond to a situation, but it’s not always the best way. Consider your co-workers. You probably know one who would love to be singled out in front of a company event and praised for her work. You probably know another one who might call in sick if he knew he’d be recognized in that way and would prefer a simple hand-written note of thanks. Their manager might prefer to be recognized by being given additional training opportunities. If the manager considers only what he’d want and signs both workers up for a class, they might see themselves as being punished, not rewarded. What’s good for the goose, in this case, isn’t as good for the gander. It doesn’t have to do with gender, but with personality.
Everything DiSC reminds us that relying on the Golden Rule won’t always get the results we want. What motivates you might not motivate me. What stresses me out might not bother you in the least. Managers, leaders and team members can benefit from learning about the needs of others. While there are shared values such as respect, trust, or fairness, the priorities of people can vary significantly. It’s important to keep this in mind and not dismiss or ignore the needs of others just because you don’t share them.
Examples of differing needs and preferences as viewed through DiSC
Knowing a person’s style can give you insights into how they want to be treated. The following preferences and priorities can be used to help guide you. And remember that asking someone directly about how they want to be treated often works best.
How to motivate
Motivation is the desire to do things or the reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way. We like to feel motivated. Here are tips for thinking about motivating people with various DiSC styles. Since people are a blend of all four styles, don’t expect one tip to work for every person who shares a style.
- Provide logical processes and defined standards.
- Allow for independent work and time to process.
- Their work can be intrinsically motivating as long as they understand how it will be judged.
- Offer opportunities for collaboration and be clear about group goals.
- Provide structure, security, and encouragement.
- They like to know what’s expected of them and help everyone get to their desired destination.
- Make sure they have opportunities for self-expression and some time in the limelight.
- Reduce the amount of routine tasks.
- They need time to socialize and enjoy celebrating team achievements.
- Allow them some control over their environment.
- Encourage competition and independent work
- They need to understand the big picture and be able to look towards the finish line.
How to support and reward
We all enjoy some sort of recognition of our effort, service or achievement. It doesn’t always have to be a gift. And support doesn’t always have to mean direct assistance. Here are some tips on what people with different styles might value most.
- Provide opportunities for them to build expertise.
- Recognize the quality of their work.
- Compliment them privately.
- Keep them informed.
- Give them time and space in which to absorb new experiences.
- Make them feel like a vital part of the team.
- Offer sincere praise privately.
- Encourage them to challenge themselves.
- Show your confidence in their abilities.
- Offer to do something with them.
- Praise them publicly.
- Acknowledge their energy and enthusiasm.
- Give them opportunities to shine.
- Offer to take care of tasks requiring attention to detail or that are repetitive.
- Let them develop and lead a team activity.
- Give them more autonomy and responsibility.
- Give them credit for specific contributions.
- Let them take the reins and help them feel in control of a difficult situation.
- Encourage healthy competition.
- Provide new challenges.
Following the Golden Rule is a good start to improving interpersonal communication, but remembering individual DiSC styles and treating each person with customized attention turns the Golden Rule into something more empathetic. It shows that you value someone enough to consider their priorities, not just your own.
Get more ideas about motivating, delegating, developing and supporting employees in the Everything DiSC Management profile.
by Kristeen Bullwinkle and the DiSCProfile.com team