Using DiSC in performance reviews

Using DiSC in performance reviews

Struggling with conducting a performance review? Not sure how to say what you need to?

Review your DiSC® profiles

Knowing your own style as the reviewer will help you to prepare. If you’re a D, you might want to reflect on how to avoid sounding confrontational or abrupt. If you’re an i, you might want to try to be more direct. Often how information is presented is as important as what is presented.

If you want a review to be motivational, then knowing the style of the person being reviewed is crucial. You won’t motivate an S by asking her to lead a change management committee. You won’t motivate a C by giving him a generalized positive feedback.

Review the profile

You might only know your employee’s style and that gives you a good place to start. You’ll have a good idea about what that person’s priorities are, what motivates him, and what stresses him out. You might know if he is of a similar of different style to others he works with. This provides a bit of context for how you’ll conduct the review.

You might also ask your employee if she is comfortable with bringing in her profile to review together. The pages at the end of the Workplace profile give suggestions for increasing one’s workplace effectiveness. Reviewing these can be a comfortable place to start if she’s recently gone through a DiSC training.

Using the Comparison Reports

Everything DiSC Comparison Rerpot, page 3, SpanishReviewing the comparison reports for you and your direct reports together will give you more than an hour’s worth of productive conversation. Most importantly, it can be used to open communication about how to better work with each other. You can respond to what a report says about your differences in temperament or pace, for examples. If you don’t share the same traits, the report gives you a way to speak about them abstractly before you introduce concrete examples.


Reviewer’s priorities = action, enthusiasm, results

Reviewed person’s priorities = accuracy, stability, challenge

How accurately does the feedback describe the differences in your approach to risk-taking?

How do your differences affect your relationship or your ability to work together effectively, and what could you do to make improvements?

Are your differences being capitalized upon or are they causing problems? A challenge for this reviewer might be to consider the values of tenacity and questioning new ideas. Are these valuable to the organization? Are challenges to the reviewer’s spontaneous actions being viewed as insubordination or as honest and constructive questioning? Did you list different accomplishments than the review subject did because of your differing values and expectations? Do future goals, objectives or projects listed reflect a desire to stay within a comfort zone related to behavior, or to skill or training? Are you wanting to give a better appraisal than merited because of the “like me” factor?

If you look at a sample DiSC Comparison Report, you’ll see that there are sections where the person profiled can personalize the report and describe how she or he can apply the information from the profile. You could discuss these questions during the performance review.

Even if you don’t choose to look at your profiles together, you can receive helpful tips for conducting the employee’s review. For example, the report might tell you to avoid dominating discussions and encourage the candid sharing of opinions. Or provide more information about how a newly assigned project will work and what you will see as success.

Reviewing a team

If you have the challenge of reviewing a team that is in conflict, then the comparison reports of the individuals involved can be consulted before the formal review. You will be able to use their differences in preferred behaviors as one filter through which to view the conflict.

Even if a team is working together well, the comparison reports or group culture report can reveal the people who might not be as comfortable or as productive as they could be because their DiSC profile differs from that of the group. The group culture report is designed to be used with the entire group, but can also be a useful tool to use with someone whose potential in the group might not be fully realized.

A newer tool that incorporates DiSC with Patrick Lenicioni’s writing about teams is The Five Behaviors Team Development. It focuses on the issues of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results. If you have more hours to devote to team development, then this product can have a huge impact.


I suspect that we all want to believe that we review people objectively; that we use only objective measures to review accomplishments. But the truth is that our emotions and personality will play a role, so it’s important to know what our biases are. And to work on communicating clearly beyond those biases. No one wants to see this on their review form: “Your weaknesses are just overuse of your strengths. You need to work on ‘modulation.’ But a comment like “I want to see you increase your personal contact with clients. Is this a value and goal we share? How will we measure it? What assistance will you need to meeting this goal?”

Your experience

How has knowing your DiSC profile style helped you better communicate with your peers and direct reports? Has it helped you to “manage up”? How have you used Comparison Reports?


by Kristeen Bullwinkle and the team



  1. […] how you’ve used the training. For example, are you going to use the Comparison Reports to prepare for performance reviews? Have you initiated a discussion with your direct reports about what motivates […]

  2. […] an example of one: “Her focus on swift results may help resolve problems more quickly.” A manager might find those comments very helpful. I’m hoping I remember to return to them whenever I feel frustrated or irritated by a […]

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