Using DISC to Empower a Culture of Healthy Conflict Management
Conflict in the workplace is inevitable, and a strong indicator of diversity in thinking and active employee engagement. Many employees spend more hours with their colleagues while on the clock than they do with their own families! Disagreements are bound to arise, especially during times of budget constraints, increased production, and tight deadlines. Sometimes, differences can get out of hand and turn into unhealthy conflict. While some organizational cultures shy away from dealing with conflict directly, leaders find unique ways to approach it head-on. Unfortunately, not all employees have an equal ability to manage or resolve conflict. People in positions of authority are generally responsible for managing or resolving conflict amongst peers and subordinates. Without the knowledge of individual and team DISC styles, conflict is likely to go unresolved, leading to an environment of distrust and dissension amongst teammates.
Equip your team to handle conflict
As a leader, here are three steps you can take to utilize DISC to equip your teams to resolve conflict before it becomes unmanageable:
- Request all personnel to take a DISC assessment, with special emphasis on the workplace environment. Ask employees to showcase their style where others can view it. Encourage displays that allow individualization and creativity. The open display of one's personality creates a foundation of honesty and transparency by acknowledging and embracing individual and team strengths and differences.
- Host a team-building session to review DISC assessments and facilitate discussions that highlight different characteristics of the four primary DISC styles. During the discussion, identify how each personality is most likely to experience conflict and develop a few conflict mitigation and resolution strategies the team can refer to in the future. Post them in common areas and distribute them to all members for individual reference, hence establishing shared knowledge and a common language that also serves as an accountability tool.
- Incorporate DISC style reviews into team meetings, employee feedback sessions, and performance reviews. While not a measure of the performance itself, it can offer valuable insights, identify blind spots, and eliminate barriers to higher performance or success.
Anticipate how each DISC style may react
You will also likely have to manage the initial conflict experienced before the assessment is even administered! Take your DISC assessment first. You will be better equipped to respond to the diverse personalities that exist in the workplace.
To prepare yourself for implementation, here are some style-specific responses you can expect from your DISC-diverse employees:
- The high "D" personality style: Conflict doesn’t bother me; people need to stop being so sensitive. I’ll have my results for you by the end of the day.
- The high "I" personality style: If we can all talk about what bothers us, we can figure it out together! I can’t wait to see everyone’s personality results!
- The high "S" personality style: Do we have to share our results with everyone? I would feel more comfortable if we could do this with a partner; maybe we can work in smaller groups? Can we choose our own partners?
- The high "C" personality style: How long do we have to complete this assessment? Will this take priority over my current task list? Do you want my results printed or sent to you in an e-mail?
As you may have noticed, some will be resistant to the idea; others will embrace it; however, everyone will learn something about themselves and others, which will help your team. When conflict arises, observe how the newly acquired knowledge is applied at the lowest level, before you ever need to get involved. With DISC, you can equip and empower your organization to transform from a mindset of conflict avoidance, into a culture of healthy conflict management and resolution.