What’s the new ‘normal’ as your offices are reopening?
Are you sad to be putting away your home office loungewear? Are you trying on your work clothes; albeit a little tighter? It’s that time.
Companies are transitioning their employees back to the office. Unlike last year’s abrupt switch to remote work, there’s more time reopening the offices.
Upon opening, you can assume office interactions will change. Teams may work in hybrid settings. You may have employees, who were remotely hired and have never had a face-to-face interaction with their team. Some team members may return to the office and others may continue to work remote.
There’s still a lot of uncertainty happening and more changes to come. How can you help, and possibly even enhance, productivity and connectivity during these times? DISC helps you recognize the different transition needs of your employees. How are they likely to respond to changing environments? How can you facilitate change in ways your employees respond better?
Constant change is now normal
Communication and interactions will change. The new office setting may likely be a combination of office workers, remote workers, and hybrid workers. Virtual meetings and office messaging may be as standard as break room chats.
DISC helps you understand how different styles react to change since it’s not the same for everyone. The thought of going back to the office may be thrilling and energizing for some people and for others they may dread the face-to-face interactions. Some miss the hustle and bustle of the office and the ability to get things done quickly in person. Others miss the daily chit chats and opportunities for many interactions. Still, others may need things to slow down and need to be given a clearly laid out plan.
Let’s look at styles and change to understand the differences.
D-styles: things don’t progress without change
D-styles approach change as good and necessary, ‘things don’t progress without change.’ Your D-styles are more likely to embrace change; simply for change’s sake. They may see themselves as a pioneer looking for new opportunities and new ways of doing things. Their competitiveness drives them to be on the forefront of change.
As long as it serves your D-styles in accomplishing their tasks, they will be a ‘yay’ in returning to the workplace. The ability to network and achieve faster resolutions are motivating factors. They may have enjoyed the independence of working from home; however, ensure they still have opportunities to to make their own decisions and they will be happy. Help them manage the challenges of multi-tasking that works for the whole team. D-styles may need to challenge themselves to adjust their pace of change to support their team’s productivity.
I-styles: this is going to be fun!
I-styles will likely be an excited ‘yay’ in returning to the office, since they tend to view change positively, ‘this is going to fun!’ They’ll be excited to be back at work and have the chance for many spontaneous interactions with their team. They may see it as an opportunity to have more attention focused on themselves.
I-styles can find reasons for motivating their team members behind change and help set the tone for the team. Build in flexibility. Ensure your I-styles have opportunities to network and bring the team together in a fun and positive way. Don’t let them get too distracted by all the changes or they may overlook the details and tasks.
S-styles: it’s working fine now, why change?
S-styles may feel like they just settled in to the remote work routine; it took a while. They may feel anxious about the change process and may even resist it. They may be the ‘ugh’ in returning to the office because they have established a remote work routine.
Remember to provide as much planning and direction as possible. Give them time to transition and check in with them to see how they’re doing. They may not speak up if something is bothering them. Give them time to bond and build rapport with their team and provide support and guidance one-on-one whenever possible. Their flexibility needs may lie in their work-life balance; do they have clearly delineated flexibility to manage home-school kids or pets?
C-styles: why do we need to change?
Your C-styles will want to understand why the change is needed at this time. They want information and facts. C-styles, in the face of change, will move cautiously and systematically. They may even want to test the initial effects of the change before proceeding further.
Address their questions carefully. For example, clearly lay out the post-pandemic safety policy; even better if you send it in writing. Provide a schedule and time to transition. Provide clear reasons why returning to work at this time is logical. For example, they have a dedicated space to focus and technology and data may be easier to access.
Supporting office interactions and dynamics
For some it feels like starting over and that can be a great thing or it can feel uncomfortable. Recognizing that each person on your team does not approach change and transition the same way is the important first step. Next, is recognizing what alleviates stress in change situations, and then take the steps necessary to do it.
Ultimately, be kind to yourself. This transition is a step closer to your new normal.
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In my 20 years of experience as a facilitator and instructional designer, the most difficult part of the job is: how to get participants to apply what they’ve learned. Do you agree?
The good news is, at Extended DISC, our two main goals are to support you and help you to help your clients. You wear many hats, in your role as facilitators, coaches, instructional designers. The last thing you need to is spend too much time on one ‘more thing’.
Have you ever felt you’re recreating the wheel over and over again? Were there ever times you needed to apply DISC to leadership training or team development? Did you need to adapt to deliver DISC training virtually? The 4 Steps to Effective Interactions are designed to provide you with a template for all things DISC.
Don’t stop at awareness.
Think about the 4 steps like an antibiotic. You are always told to complete the full prescription; don’t stop taking it. Well, don’t short change your participants and try paring down the steps. (I know it happens because I’ve worked at an organization who would skip any aspects of application practice to save time). The full application is the opportunity for your participants to practice and learn. This is where “a-ha” moments occur.
The power of DISC is consistent application. Simplicity of the tool and positive results aids application; often resulting in learned behaviors. Providing ample time to practice in the DISC session creates a jump start to your return on investment. After all, aren’t your employees worth the investment?
You can’t run until you’ve learned how to walk
There is an intentional methodology to the 4 steps to effective interactions. As a child, you didn’t learn to run before you learned to walk, did you? No, first you learned to crawl, then cruise, then walk, then run. You were building your muscles to give yourself confidence and strength in your abilities.
The 4 steps to effective interactions are built with that same thought process. They are designed to give you confidence and strength in understanding and applying DISC. These are the building blocks to your workshops being effective and your participants leaving and having more effective interactions.
So…what are the 4 steps?
Step 1 is learning how people are similar and different. You use the 4 quadrant DISC model to help you explain the similarities and differences between the styles. Next, Step 2 is understanding your own individual DISC style and how others may perceive that style. Step 3 is identifying the style of others to better understand them and also to know how best to navigate to step 4. Finally, Step 4 is making temporary, brief adjustments to your style to help you improve the interaction with another person and to ultimately, help you achieve your goals and success.
Sounds easy, right? You already know DISC is easy to use and understand. The difficulty is consistency. Life happens. Your participants leave your workshop and return to their daily jobs. Stress, pressure, and fatigue may enter the picture. These strong emotions drain your energy; making it difficult to remember and apply what you learned in training. That’s why practical application, from the start ,is so important.
How can I practice?
You have a plethora of resources available at Extended DISC. Many exercises can be applied during various steps within a workshop or with specific types of workshops; i.e leadership or team development training.
However, two of my favorite exercises incorporate all 4 steps and are universal; meaning they can be used in any type of workshop. The exercises are called: How Do I Relate? and My Communication Strategy. The exercises are designed to walk participants through all 4 steps of the process in an easy to do manner. They show the simplicity of the tool and the small amount of time it takes to apply.
The more opportunities you can provide to your participants in applying DISC theory into their real world lives and jobs; the more effective they will be when leaving your workshop. Remember, consistent application is the power of the tool.
Reach out to us to learn more ways you can incorporate DISC into real world application.
Clients leave your session motivated and ready to put their learning into practice. But, how?
In an ideal world, you have intensive one-on-one follow-ups with learners. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have this option. How then, can you ensure your learners benefit from DISC application?
DISC gives you a head start
A comprehensive DISC training puts the DISC session squarely at the starting point. The end point of a successful training is the transfer of learning into the job role and life.
You’re off to a great start because DISC itself, is a reinforcement tool. Its strength is that it’s easy to learn and put into practice. It reminds you to make adjustment that better your interactions. People easily see DISC’s value; how it supports your ability to interact well with others.
Unfortunately, ‘life’ has a tendency to get in the way. You are pulled in different directions daily and your best intentions to develop yourself go astray and opportunities are missed.
Tips for bridging learning and application
Reinforcement of learning works best when it transitions easily into your client’s real life. Different and flexible post-session options enable your learners to access multiple paths to success.
Training success is determined by how well the transfer of learning is to the participant’s real world. Practical and familiar post-session reinforcement is more likely to motivate participants to practice self-awareness and behavioral adjustments.
Here are some ways to provide a more comprehensive, flexible, and meaningful training. Try what works best for you and your learners.
Things to consider when building comprehensive learning
- Clearly state purpose of DISC training; what is valuable and rewarding if your participants practice DISC?
- Know your unique learners. What tends to motivate them to learn and engage in the session?
- Keep learning simple and actionable. Use relatable, realistic examples so participants can easily incorporate and transfer to their jobs.
- What support will you provide post-training? Do you need a follow-up session?
- Have clear post-session goals. What learning and activities will support personal accountability?
You’re closing out a great session and you’ve built the bridge connecting the learning to their real world. Before the session ends is the time to start the post-session reinforcement!
Know your clients when following-up
If you have the opportunity to follow-up one-on-one or in smaller groups, consider their DISC styles. What would be more motivating for them to continue practicing what they learned?
Follow-up emails are practical, but can be more effective if you adjust your emails to your client’s style. For example, if your client is an I-style, then could your email get a better response if you picked up the phone for a quick chat first? Would your D-style better engage if the email was brief, action-oriented and clearly states their potential benefits. Get the idea?
Start reinforcement before participants leave DISC training
Starting their homework in session increases the likelihood of continuing it; especially when the effort generates success in practice. Different ideas include journaling their first day’s learning and successes, setting a reminder check-in on their phone, or matching up learners for a ‘phone a friend daily check-in’. The important thing is to commit to something before they leave your session.
We know that creating a simple and concise behavioral action plan is a highly effective way to improve performance. Even if learners don’t refer back to their plans, they are more consciously aware of adjustments they considered making.
The My Personal Action Plan in the back of their Individual Assessments; it couldn’t be easier! It is a quick way to identify adjustments using a ‘start, stop, and continue’ approach. First, write down behaviors you could ‘start’ doing because they can help you to be more effective. Next, write down the behaviors that you should ‘stop’ doing because they impede your success. Finally, write down what behaviors have worked well for you and you should ‘continue’ doing them.
Give action-oriented homework
Consider the type of homework would continue the learning and application process and maintain accountability. Keep homework practical and easy to submit. Use examples that relate to their job roles.
I-styles and S-styles may prefer a phone a friend check-in. Your D-styles may want a checklist that publicly displays their accomplishments or giving themselves a score for an effective interaction. C-styles may prefer a daily self-check.
Also, keep in mind the present environment may include remote work, pandemic, etc. Would it be better to assign homework in smaller doses over an extended period of time?
Examples of homework:
- The Communication Strategy Worksheet is an action plan targeting someone the participant wants to improve interactions with. It is available for download from the VIP Client Resource Site.
- Check-in by reviewing 2 key adjustments learners identified in the session. Ask them questions, ‘did they practice it?’ ‘how did it work?’ and ‘do you have any re-adjustments to make?’
- Keep a journal of the adjustments they did well and adding and editing their behavioral action plan.
- Use a daily check-in; whether it’s a self-check or checking on someone else. They can rate themselves from 1 – 10 based on how effective their interactions were, based on how well they adjusted.
Your social learners may respond well to a chat group. Others may find it fun to do an online quiz; prizes can make it more motivating!
Learners can set up reminders and alerts in their phones or laptops with a daily affirmation. They could ask themselves what they did well today or what they will try adjusting next time. The affirmation can be as simple as ‘take a breath’; the breath is the action of a pause and reminds you to reset and adjust between interactions.
People recognize the value of DISC even more when their managers and leadership do. Managers can reinforce it daily by using the language of DISC. It may be as simple as asking their employees, ‘what was the DISC style of their client?’ or ‘what adjustments did you consciously make with your client? They can review DISC styles in a team meeting or build DISC style identification into their CRM.
You can provide reinforcement activities for managers to use. Even if the manager simply models DISC awareness and practices conscious adjustments, they are already effective.
Repeat, revisit and reflect
Have learners redo or revisit worksheets, DISC report, and journals to reflect and make additional observations and adjustments. Repetition and practice lead to successful habits.
If you have the opportunity, follow up on their practicing of application. For example, ask them to describe a situation where they adjusted effective or what they would try next time. Discuss any additional key adjustments.
Use customized reinforcement workbooks and resources
Extended DISC has a variety of resources including handouts, guides, activities, and Reinforcement Workbooks. The Client Resource Site is available to all active users of Extended DISC® Assessments.
The Reinforcement Reports are personalized, brief, standalone workbooks. Reports are topic specific and include handling stress, time management, and maximizing strengths. They are based on the learner’s existing DISC Profile results so the report format and information are familiar. Key development questions are built into the reports to support practice and further development. You have the flexibility of using one, a few, or all.
Doing all the above tips does not equal reinforcement success. Choose the ones that works for you and your learners.
Awareness and personal responsibility are key to long term success. Learners need impactful information about themselves, knowing others better, and how to adjust effectively. Help them find ways to practice DISC and build it into their everyday interactions and situations. The good news is the successes reinforce the practice; until they become a habit.
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