Similar styles may work well together, but that doesn’t necessarily build successful outcomes. To achieve performance improvement we must focus on recruiting to strengthen DISC development areas.
How Managers Are Hiring
Some years ago I was working with a consulting firm that utilizes our DISC assessments to help their clients with various training initiatives and strategy implementation. This particular client company had a very common problem that we frequently see in organizations in all kinds of industries. It seems that almost no one is immune to it. Their managers were cloning themselves.
They were hiring people that very closely mirrored who they are – people that seemed to have “that certain something”. They were bringing in new employees who made the hiring managers say: “You know, there was really something about that guy that made me feel very comfortable. He would fit very well in our team.”
Cloning Ourselves Initially Makes Sense
I can still vividly remember the conversation I had with one manager. He told me with a lot of enthusiasm and conviction: “I know exactly what I need to do. I need to clone myself. Then all of my worries will be gone!” He was a manager of about 45 account executives at a financial services organization. While his group was doing modestly well, no one attributed any of the credit to him. It was a classic case of doing well in despite of oneself.
Have you ever been in a situation when you had a hard time finding the right words to tell someone politely that they were dead wrong? I am pretty comfortable doing it now. Back then I was not so comfortable. I remember saying to myself: “Clone you! Why do you think I am here?”
My Hiring Practice Seems Logical
Since that moment, I have heard the same idea countless times. Actually, on the surface it makes a lot of sense. If I am successful as a manager, or at the very least think I am, why not duplicate myself and multiply the success. (By the way, I have not met many managers who said they were not good managers – have you? I think there must be few of them out there. At least many employees sometimes claim they are out there.) This plan sounds logical, simple and straightforward. Why not go for it?
And many do. They bring people into their team who in essence are mirror images. They act and think just like the boss. Conflicts happen less often, everyone gets along and life is smooth sailing.
Why We Don’t Identify DISC Development Areas Readily
Unfortunately, it is not all smooth sailing. Although typically a team with similar DISC-style employees tends to increase their strengths, they also amplify their weaknesses. What’s worse, they typically are completely oblivious to the latter. No one wants to face this fact. And the ones that do realize it often find it to be a lot more comfortable to be quiet. Who wants to rock the proverbial boat and to tell the boss they are doing it wrong?
The same happens in people’s personal lives. However, it seems that we are more aware of it then. We are more aware that when we are very much alike the amplification of strengths and weaknesses takes place. For example, take a couple of analytical people. They usually are aware that they have a hard time making decisions quickly and can even poke fun at themselves.
Integrating DISC for Better Hiring
But at work, it is different. The problem is ignored and no humor is found in the situation. What often compounds the problem is that certain kinds of careers, jobs and even organizations tend to attract similar styles of employees. For example, the engineering field attracts more analytical C-styles than sales careers that often pull in more people-oriented I-styles. Combine this with a manager who clones him/herself and you end up with a team of clones.
By the way, while individuals with similar DISC profiles enjoy each other’s company, there is an exception. D-styles typically do not get along with other D-styles for long. If you have many I-styles in a room, it is a fun party. Together S-styles proceed harmoniously at a steady pace. C-styles systematically work together to ensure correctness and quality. However, D-styles will fight for control and no one gives in. When several D-styles enter a room, not everyone exists unscathed.
The Best DISC Style for Recruitment
“Markku, what is the best behavioral style for a leader (or manager, salesperson, etc.)?” This is a question I get asked frequently – almost every day. My honest answer always is: “It depends on what you need. Do you know what you need?”
Because the truth is that there is no one best DISC-style. There really is not, although I at times think mine is pretty good. Then I take another honest look.
But there is a common denominator with all successful people. They know who they are and they are honest with themselves. They are not afraid to look into the mirror and face the truth about their strengths, weaknesses and challenges. What’s more, they capitalize on their strengths, and they recruit to their DISC development weakness. They actually surround themselves with people who are different from their own DISC-style.
Why would anyone want to do this? Aren’t they inviting disagreements, conflicts and misery?
Managers Use DISC Next to improve Performance
Onboarding diverse DISC styles brings in additional strengths, different viewpoints, and different talents to the team. Please understand, I am not advocating that every team should be equally balanced with 25 percent of each of the four DISC-styles. That is rarely, if ever, the best case. However, the most effective teams closely match the behavioral requirements that the mission of the team dictates. When the behavioral styles are closely aligned with the behavioral requirements, the team is more likely to succeed in strengthening the DISC development areas and achieve overall reward.
In sports everyone seems to understand this clearly. Many of us have our favorite players. We may have our favorite quarterback, pitcher, or center. But let me ask you this. Would you want your favorite sports team to be clones of that one player? Of course not! Your team would never have a chance to succeed even though someone cloned a superstar.
Next time you see a manager clone trying to clone him/herself, you may want to ask the same question. Do you really want to clone yourself or do you want to succeed?