Many of you probably know the set piece generalism about basic D.I.S.C (psychometric) types that uses the open window and the draught story but for those who do not I will briefly reiterate it.
Imagine a room with an open window through which blows a cold draft and the room is full of people. Among those people are four whose personality types are a pure high Driver (D), a pure high Expressive (I), a pure high Amiable (S) and a pure high Analytic (C). They are rare but do exist.
The basic high D, being a doer and mover, will simply get up and close the window. A basic high I, being an influencer and persuader, will get someone else to close it for him. The basic high S, being concerned to maintain the status-quo but remain comfortable, will put on a coat, while the basic high C, being rule oriented, will invoke the rules for closing windows.
These perceptions are at once truisms and gross generalisations. They are also amusing and help to point out a very few of the major differences between basic personality types.
Now consider if you will the complexities that ensue when one accepts that most of us combine two or three of these basic behavioural characteristics in our makeup.
An inherent flaw lurks in anecdotal examples such as these that are potentially very damaging to you as an analyst and more importantly, your subjects.
Graphic simplifications cause us to stereotype people. Stereotyping is a natural function of the subjective human mind, so let us not begin to get any hang-ups about it. Instead, let us consciously try to avoid it when using psychometric management tools to analyse our staff or potential recruits.
An excellent example of this type of potential misunderstanding pops-up frequently in our consulting activities.
The classic perception of a Managing Director is that of a high D & I over a low S with, preferably, a rising C factor.
It has to be said that this is relatively common among directors and senior managers who are successful in running profitable enterprises, whether their own or some one else’s.
I know of a Managing Director of a very successful company in a highly competitive market who violates all of these perceived cannons of the ideal manager. Indeed, he is a high S & C over a low I & D and he is far from being from unique.
What many of us in our eagerness to display our expertise do, is fail to remember that Dominance is not the only driving force. So how do we guard against stereotyping?
Personality Survey provides, as we never cease to remind our customers, a window into another human beings mind and personality. What we as good analysts must do is to use that knowledge to open doors into that personality and so know the person well, really well.
Remember also that the S & C factors are quadrants and that different individuals react or respond in widely divergent ways. We need to be aware of this and how it affects the people, we analyse.
My atypical Managing Director’s motivation comes from several related areas. His need for security underpins a very in-depth expertise and these have combined to produce a determined effort to control his own destiny and by definition, to learn how to run a not inconsiderable company. This is further enhanced by his natural caring nature that operates to advantage both for his customers and for his staff.
What we must also keep in mind is that, within his own field of expertise, he is quite capable of being both flexible and innovative. It may take longer but the results are often far more enduring for it.
The key here is always investigation. Use the wealth of information about personality and potential that can be gleaned from Personality Survey to delve deeply and find what really is driving the person you are about to interview or assess or whatever.
You will occasionally get some surprising, but often very pleasing, insights. In future articles we will continue looking at various methods we can use to ascertain potential and specific training needs.
This article was originally published by Success Dynamics, our Personality Survey provider.