I’ve worked remotely with teams and individuals for years and good communication is always a top driver of what makes my work with them successful. I’m often joining an already established team and it can be hard to get aligned with how the team works. This can be true for any new member of a virtual or hybrid team.
Communication requires flexibility—not every client or teammate wants to use the same tools or receive the same level of detail, or work at the same pace. One way I was able to accelerate my learning about communication and other preferences with the Discprofile.com team has been through the use of the Everything DiSC® Comparison Report.
This report provides specific information about how each of you compares to another person based on your Everything DiSC profiles. It presents at least six pairs of traits, such as calm versus energetic or tactful versus frank, and offers suggestions on how to apply this knowledge.
My first experience with the Comparison Report
When I began working with Discprofile.com, I took an Everything DiSC Workplace® assessment. Our team learned each other’s DiSC® styles and chatted about them, but before we started a new project we wanted to take a deeper dive into our reports to make sure we communicated well, achieved results, and had a good experience together. So we printed out and shared our Comparison Reports. Our discussion around this report helped us take actions right away to reduce the likelihood of the project being delayed (or rushed). It helped us craft our communication in more effective ways.
As the only off-site team member, this report was especially helpful for me when I considered what information I should share about the work I was doing and how often. It also helped me form a connection to each team member.
We first looked at all the scales or continua of traits where we had results at opposing ends of the scale. These showed areas where it could be easy to fall into conflict. We discussed ways we could take steps to avoid problems and capitalize on our differences. For example, I shared that I’m likely to pay more attention to advice when it’s in written form and very specific.
Later we looked at our similarities. For example, two of us shared a high value for accuracy and worked with more sustained focus. We discussed how this could set up a natural alignment between us during conflicts. We also talked about how we could be judgmental of the more action-oriented, quick-moving team member.
We had a high level of trust in our team so that helped our discussion be bold and positive. We were able to have the discussion without a facilitator. I can see how if we had waited to look at these reports until after we experienced conflict, a facilitator would have been a welcome addition. The report could be used to provide a path toward working better together if relationships are broken.
What I learned
“If I’m not excited then work isn’t fun.” Those aren’t my words, but a coworker’s. It’s something I try to remember when producing reports for her. Since we prefer different paces of work, it’s also a helpful reminder for when I want to slow her down or focus. I recognized that it is sometimes more productive to try to meet her pace at times, even if I’m feeling rushed. And responding to a comment in chat with an animated GIF isn’t wasted time.
I’m a patient person and I am hesitant to ask for something a second time. So during our Comparison Report discussion, I asked if I ever come off as a nag and how I could be more active about reminders. I learned what my teammates’ thresholds for nagging were. They weren’t each the same, but their limits were higher than mine. That’s really helpful to know. I worry about sounding abrasive or impatient in any email asking for an update or reminding the recipient about something they’d promised but not delivered. Now I had permission to send such emails.
We also discussed what motivated us. While deadlines do not motivate me, they did motivate at least one of our team. So we agreed to set a few more of those and report on our progress during weekly Team meetings.
I highlighted the report’s note: “Make an effort to engage in small talk from time to time, so she feels that you’re approachable.” I’m not a fan of small talk and now make an effort to be more sociable not just with this colleague, but with other clients, too. I’ve learned that sometimes I learn important information while we all shoot the breeze. It’s much harder to be seen as approachable when you can’t stop by someone’s desk, so I try to make an effort to share a bit more of myself virtually than I’m naturally inclined to do.
How our team used the report
The Comparison Report was a tool for opening up conversation and dialog. It brought up issues we really hadn’t thought about on our own or hadn’t thought important enough for a dedicated discussion.
The printed report asks you to check or cross out statements that apply or don’t apply to you. There were statements that just didn’t ring true for this team. For example, I asked if I was seen as having a hard time dealing with change. It was helpful to hear that teammates saw me as risk-averse but not change-averse. We focused our discussions just on where the reports’ lists of potential roadblocks felt accurate.
While we haven’t had any significant problems with three of us scoring high on being frank and strong-willed, it’s something to be aware of. The report alerted us to the fact that as a group (or in pairs) we might intimidate others. We hadn’t even thought about that possibility before reading the report. As the Discprofile.com team has grown, we’ve been alert to this issue as we’ve onboarded new employees and worked with other teams.
How I continue to use the report
When frustrated with a colleague
During this first use of the Comparison Report, we did not spend much time looking at all the positive statements the reports offer. Here’s an example of one: “Her focus on swift results may help resolve problems more quickly.” Now I try to return to these notes whenever I feel frustrated or irritated by a teammate’s behavior. I am reminded of the strengths they bring and what I can learn from them. I can also find tips for working better with them.
With other consultant teams
This report has been very helpful when working with consultants on large projects. Often, we just don’t take the time to learn the work styles of people we bring on a team because we focus instead on their expertise. Not every consultant is good about explaining their work style and preferences. They want to accommodate the client but can struggle to do so. Our team always asks our consultants to take Everything DiSC Workplace. By looking at our differing styles, we can find ways to work together right away and be aware of where we might have problems. We can strategize ways to deal with tension before it arises.
With new hires
For new hires or new team members, the Your colleagues section in the Everything DiSC on Catalyst platform has made the typically long period of getting to know how your teammates work move much more quickly. It helps the team onboard more smoothly. For example, we didn’t pester one new colleague for personal details because her profile showed her as being private. She could see right away that I can be strong-willed (or stubborn) and she’d need to be more assertive at times to get me to fully consider her ideas.
With other clients
While I don’t ask all my clients to take an Everything DiSC assessment, I do take what I’ve learned from my experiences with DiSC to “people read” them or test assumptions I’ve made about their styles. I also take what I’ve learned about myself to share my own communication style and priorities with new clients, letting them know that I am also able to adapt. The practice I’ve had on the Discprofile.com team has made me a better consultant for all my clients.