DiSC and stress: Activity for managers

DiSC and stress: Activity for managers

Managers have to be facilitators, mentors, nudgers, and more. They lead their teams by playing different roles at different times with different people. DiSC can help them recognize when individuals on their teams might need something different from what they themselves would want.

Can your managers anticipate what might stress out their team? Do they know how to respond to a member’s stress?

Activity for managers

Begin with a short group discussion about when stress can be good for a team or for individuals and when it can be destructive. Ask for examples of negative and positive stress (or eustress) they’ve experienced. For example, receiving a promotion or practicing new skills can be a positive source of stress. Holding someone accountable or being held accountable can be a necessary, but uncomfortable, type of stress. Negative stress such as job insecurity can shut down all productivity on a team and cause people to look for new opportunities.

Point out that what one person shares as stressful might not create that same amount of stress in someone else. This is where we can look to DiSC for help. For example, you can expect a D or an i to experience public recognition of their work as a positive stressor. For a C or an S, it might be a negative one if the C doesn’t think it was accurate or if the S thinks it unfairly excluded others.

Consider how motivation and stress can mirror each other. Stress can be seen as a demotivator. Review what participants know about motivation from their Everything DiSC Management profiles. Help them create a chart that looks something like the one below.

Motivators for each DiSC style

With this chart visible, ask participants to share what might stress out each style. If they are slow to begin encourage them to speak for their own style. You might end up with something like this:

Ask small groups to now work through one or two scenarios and what they could do as managers to reduce or increase stress for each style. Try to make these scenarios fit the organization you’re working with. For example, for the group that created the chart above, you might want to have the scenario be around another meeting without an agenda. Consider letting participants use a real life scenario of their own. Other examples:

  • You’ve all been asked to work from home for an unspecified amount of time.
  • It’s annual review time.
  • Sales are down and no one is coming up with ideas for improving them.
  • Your offices are being moved to the basement while your space is remodeled.
  • Your organization was just purchased by a larger organization.
  • A favorite team member just quit.
  • A challenging and disruptive team member was just fired.
  • Your team’s project or goal was just changed.
  • Employees on other teams are getting promoted, but no one from your team is being promoted.
  • A new project management system has just been introduced.
  • A team member has to take off for 3 months of medical treatments, or 12 months for a military deployment.
  • Budget cuts are announced, but not for your team yet.
  • Only one person gets public recognition for the team’s work.
  • Your team hasn’t been given a new project lately.
  • A regulator, your legal team, or another group has just added additional policies the team has to comply with, but sees as just red tape.

End the session by asking the managers to look again at page 17 or their report: Your Approach to Developing Others. In small groups ask them to reflect on what they reviewed today and what they read here. How do they want to work on their approach in the coming week? Is there a person on their team they should meet with? Is there a skill they want to develop? Is there an upcoming event they need to prepare their team for? Is there a self-care routine they need to begin?

Follow-up for managers

Consider sharing one or more of these articles with managers after this training.

And don’t forget, stress can lead to conflict, so offer an Everything DiSC Productive Conflict session.


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