The Versatility of Behavioural Profiling

by Stephen Barton, Global OD Services

In the 35 years that I have worked in human resources I have been fortunate enough to use or at least be exposed to most personality and behavioural profiling tools. As a consultant working both here in Australia and internationally, DISC ADVANCED® has proved to be the most versatile and useful profiling tool I have come across. It is certainly my tool of choice and go-to instrument when clients need to understand behaviour at work and seek to improve communications and working relationships.

My journey with DISC began about six years ago when I was searching for a tool that was more easily understood by employees. Other tools that I had been using, whilst theoretically very sound, often had language and concepts that were difficult for employees to grasp and make part of their work culture.  DISC ADVANCED® is easy for employees.  They get it. They get the concepts and they quickly see results as they begin to use the model in their jobs.

A great example of how a company has benefitted by using profiling is WorldLink International, a freight forwarding firm operating out of Perth, Western Australia.  Their journey began four years ago when Glenn Galipo, Manager of Development and Training came to me looking for a tool that would help him understand how applicants would fit the workplace culture he was trying to build. During the selection process, profiling applicants enables Glenn to probe deeper to learn more about their natural style and how they would fit in with other members of the team. By aligning their profile with the job description, he avoided appointing the wrong person on a number of occasions and on others was able to take a chance with other people who have proved to be great appointments.

As WorldLink continues its journey, the way in which it uses behavioural profiles has become much more sophisticated. Whilst still using it as a recruitment tool, they now also use it to help employees understand their own behaviour and what drives others to behave differently. This has been an important tool in getting employees to change their thinking about how they communicate with others and relate to work colleagues. In an organisation dealing with freight that needs to be moved on very tight deadlines and which is driven by the schedules of airline and subsequent delays, stress and frustration are part and parcel of everyday life. When facing these challenges, getting people to understand the impact of their behaviour and how they can get better outcomes by adapting their communication style to people’s behavioural type has reduced the level of stress and anxiety.  When I visit the workplace it is great to hear positive feedback from employees. They tell me that they now understand how a simple change in their behaviour and the way they communicate with one another has far better results than the old aggressive ways of charging in ranting and raving.

WorldLink also use individual, work pair and team profiles for staff development. A recent restructure saw a number of employees change roles within the company. Glenn used their profiles to help them develop in their new roles.  This process begins with a conversation about the role they are now doing. The first step is to identify the key deliverables of that role and the results on which they will be measured. They then work through a process of identifying the behaviours that will help deliver those outcomes and the sort of behaviours which would prevent them from succeeding. For example for someone in a sales role, positive behaviours include the ability to quickly build relationships, make decisions and the ability to sell new ideas and the big picture. Negative behaviours might include perfectionism and the need to rely on precise instructions. Once the appropriate behaviours are identified, these can be matched with the person’s profile to see how their natural and adjusted style aligns with the job requirements. As with any profiling tool it is important to remember at this stage that the tool doesn’t tell an employee that certain behaviours are possible or impossible. It should never be used to tell people they can or can’t perform in any role. The tool merely tells us how the person’s strengths can help them and what behaviours need to be developed. It is about identifying what comes naturally and what requires the most energy to succeed. We know putting people in jobs that require huge amounts of energy to display the required behaviours leads to stress, burnout and disengagement.

The next step is to develop an action plan and by working with their manager or team leader to map out a targeted developmental plan to assist the employee to reach their goals. Getting the employee to self-identify the necessary behaviours and understand how their profile can help them, generates greater ownership and commitment to the development plan.

WorldLink will continue to use DISC ADVANCED® for recruitment but now understands that it is a rich resource which provides a huge amount of useful information to help employees develop and to be successful in their role.

As well as his work with individuals, Glenn has also uses profiling as an organisation wide tool to drive an improved culture and improve communication between teams. Working with all employees he has been able to build their understanding of their own behavioural style and how to identify the style of others. By learning to modify their approach when communicating with others, employees have learned how to get a better outcome. The consensus of staff is that this has helped to reduce the stress and aggression levels in an industry that operates to tight deadlines and constantly changing demands.

From starting its journey using behavioural profiling as recruitment tool, WorldLink now knows it has a simple tool that, when applied through an accredited practitioner, has a positive effect in four main areas;

  1. The organisation gets the right people in the right job
  2. It gets greater flexibility from staff as they can tap into strengths that were previously unknown
  3. People feel they have the opportunity to develop their role beyond the job description and reach their potential through aligning behavioural strengths, job roles and behavioural profile
  4. The level of employee engagement and the work culture improves

It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to work with Glenn and the staff at WorldLink and see the impact profiling has had on the workplace. I hope that together we continue to develop their understanding of behaviour and that their efforts to build a great place to work continue to reap rewards.