Posted by & filed under Communicating To Manage Performance, DISC Personality Styles, increasing personal effectiveness, Personal Effectiveness.

DiSC assessment explainedAt Employee Development Systems, Inc., many of our training and development solutions begin with the DiSC assessment. The DiSC is, at its most simple, a personality test geared toward workplace dynamics. Like many other personality tests, it’s meant to help people understand how they interact with others and how they’re likely to respond to different situations involving stress or conflict. Self-knowledge is especially important in much of the work that our clients do with us, from leadership to personal effectiveness. It’s difficult to make lasting change without understanding our deeper drives and motivation. Once you see the DiSC assessment explained, you’ll be able to use this tool to achieve that goal.

The DiSC Assessment Explained…

What is the DiSC Assessment anyway?

The DiSC asks a series of questions that determine the presence of four personality traits: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. The interplay of traits is key to determining more specific elements of a person’s personality.

The DiSC isn’t the only personality assessment out there, but we feel that it’s one of the best. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, for example, provides 16 personality types but doesn’t allow for a spectrum of interpretation–you’re either an Introvert or an Extrovert.

The DiSC assessment measures how dominant each of its four traits are compared to the others. For example, someone might be an S personality type, but also display high levels of Influence or Compliance. These slight variations can indicate some significant differences in leadership styles, ways the person might choose to respond to problems, and methods that will work best in communicating.

Thus, while the DiSC offers many different “recipes” for personality types, the presence of only four “ingredients” makes it innately easier to understand than other options. But, again, it helps to have the DiSC Assessment explained in depth before getting started.

How Important Is the DiSC to My Team?

It’s important to remember that while the DiSC forms a solid foundation for a lot of employee development models, it’s primarily as a self-discovery tool. There is no such thing as a “bad” personality or the “wrong” personality for a job. Instead, the DiSC allows team members to better understand their responses and their behaviors without judgment. Each participant receives a detailed report, opportunity to participate in experiential learning opportunities, and video resources. It explains what factors each specific personality type may prioritize in relationships, what motivates and challenges them, and what types of events or stimuli are likely to make each person more or less productive. This information is presented in a way that is easy to understand. Ultimately, the DiSC serves as the foundation for other programs that approach communication skills, personal effectiveness, and effective leadership.

Is the DiSC Right for My Company’s Specific Needs?

Employee Development Systems, Inc. uses a variety of DiSC approaches for different company profiles. These range from DiSC Classic, a more general approach for many different levels at an organization, to more tailored versions geared specifically for sales teams, management, leadership, and more. Combined with our flagship programs like Increasing Personal Effectiveness and Communicating to Manage Performance, the DiSC is a wonderful resource to help businesses, their leaders, and their employees develop better working relationships.

Now that you’ve had DiSC Assessment explained, we hope that you’re interested in learning more about how this tool can improve employee engagement and productivity in the workplace.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.

Posted by & filed under Change Management, Leadership, Personal Effectiveness.

maintain momentumAs anyone who has undergone a substantial transition knows, true adaptation is a marathon and not a sprint. If you’re facing a significant change within your organization, there will be good days and bad days. Some weeks will seem as if nothing is accomplished, and other weeks will follow where demands on your team’s energy will be at a fever pitch. The question becomes, how do you maintain momentum when change is gradual? How can you keep your team focused, motivated, and committed to the ultimate goal when the day-to-day seems overwhelming or just plain uninspiring?

How to Maintain Momentum

Kotter’s Eight Steps to Change model places tremendous emphasis on making efforts to maintain momentum by setting attainable benchmarks. Waiting until the entire change process is complete to celebrate or recognize accomplishments may leave only the leaders left believing in the original vision. Instead, creating “short-term wins” allows contributors at all levels to celebrate progress being made—even if that progress is made stepwise. All members of the team are able to see tangible progress and know that their contributions are having a significant impact.

Here’s why setting benchmarks can help fuel progress and maintain momentum:

It allows for self-reflection. Celebrating benchmarks allows the busy-ness of workplace activity to cease and team members to come together from different departments to acknowledge successes. Taking even a bit of time away from strategic planning or logistical disagreements or debates to look at what’s already been accomplished can have a tremendously positive effect on business morale, effectiveness, and productivity.

It maintains accountability. Knowing that short-term goals will be followed up on may make team members less likely to let them fall through the cracks. Deadlines and followups assigned to manageable tasks will help to keep changes from being too overwhelming, will make tasks easier to delegate, and will allow for more opportunities to make sure that everything is moving according to schedule.

It resets and rewards positivity. Short-term wins are the achievements of short-term winners. People who contribute to the change’s success deserve to be recognized for their contributions, and they can be hugely influential in motivating other team members to buy in to the change. Naysayers are less likely to be skeptical of the change when they see it working and paying off both for the team and for the individuals involved. Whether it’s an acknowledgement over e-mail or an award given at a staff meeting, a gesture of appreciation is an important part of creating short-term wins.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


Photo by JefferyTurner via Flickr

Posted by & filed under Actively Engaged Workers, Change Management, Leadership.

We’re currently in the midst of our Adapting to Change blog series. Last week, we discussed recognizing the need for change and  inspiring team members to get on board. This week: building momentum and maintaining it. 

Creating a vision is a key step in inspiring your team to want to be a part of a change. But believing in the vision as an abstract concept is very different from working actively toward it every day. How can we translate external aspirations into internal inspiration? How can we empower employees to act?

Check out our helpful tips to motivate your team:

Handle Naysayers

At nearly every stage in a major workplace shift, there will be those who resent change. It’s not that these people don’t want to buy into the vision the team has created or that they are willingly rooting for failure; more often than not, it’s that they’re afraid. Fear is a tremendously powerful emotion, and it can create anxiety and doubt in even the most positive employee.

You can address the fear of change in your team in several ways. First, listen to their concerns and do your best to address them. Don’t leave questions unanswered, as these can fester and turn into points of contention. The second is to understand that change can be very overwhelming from a workload standpoint. Learning new systems and hierarchies can make even regular tasks take longer, and for those employees who will take on additional work it’s easy to end up in the weeds. Consider how you can motivate individual team members to meet goals, or how you might be able to reduce their stress levels by eliminating unnecessary tasks and building momentum for positive growth.

Eliminate Roadblocks to Innovation

Kotter’s Eight Steps to Change model describes this phase of the change process as “empowering others to act on the vision.” “Others,” in most cases, means employees. The beginning phases of change might be stressful, but they’re also exciting: the team is faced with the novelty of a new system, but they’re also at their most creative and engaged as they brainstorm potential solutions.

Building momentum is key here — seize on this excitement! Now is the time for leadership to be at its most flexible. Consider how you might help to eliminate obstacles to change. Encourage risk-taking behaviors or change corporate policies that undermine the vision or limit the ability of team members to contribute. (Put into action, this method might involve approving a conference trip for a junior-level employee with great ideas so that she can continue to develop a new initiative she’s been working on. Or it might look like temporarily increasing flex time options or compensation structures, if these are impediments to growth and success. Or it might involve some unorthodox workday activities, like brainstorming sessions or staff retreats.)

Empowerment doesn’t always translate into just more privileges, either; those privileges are often paired with ownership of responsibility. Invest resources and privileges in the team members who seem enthusiastic and ready to take on challenges, and their success will motivate others to step up and take risks as well.

The most important element to remember is that in times of huge flux, your staff is your greatest asset. Leverage their enthusiasm and talents to fuel the initial fires of the change that you plan to make.

Building Momentum and Keeping It

Next time, we’ll focus on some tried-and-true methods to keep that momentum going (even when progress seems slow).

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


Posted by & filed under Employee Development, innovation, Leadership.

inspiring employeesOnce you’ve decided a change needs to be made, it’s time for the hard work to begin. Whether the change is a shift in leadership structure or a new policy or something else, sustainably inspiring employees doesn’t happen overnight. Work itself represents stability: knowing what actions and behaviors will produce the expected results. Upset that delicate balance and employees can become, understandably, distrustful and resentful.

The first step, then, is convincing your team that there is a need for change. If you’ve identified a problem, enacting change by decree is not only likely to upset your employees, but is also certainly missing an opportunity to solicit good ideas, garner support and enthusiasm for a new initiative, and establish trust as a strong leader.

Involving your team as soon as possible in times of flux might seem a bit risky or overly ambitious. What if there’s a backlash to the changing environment? Will team members panic if clear plans aren’t established right away? But in reality, transparency is a touchstone of healthy, confident leadership. Use these first meetings or presentations as an opportunity to explain the factors motivating the change, even if it’s not possible to see what the long term change will be. Help employees to see the urgency of the situation, and solicit solutions from all levels. Involving your team as much as possible helps empower them as important contributors to your company and cultivates a culture of mutual respect rather than closed-door meetings and potentially harmful gossip.

While transparency is key, it’s also important to present a united front from leadership: one that identifies what values and goals are important for the company as change occurs. After getting people on board, you’ll want to establish a clear vision for the future. Identify key leaders who can work together to synthesize ideas and target goals for the change. Make sure leadership is well educated on FAQs that might come from team members, and create a working system to address the concerns and anxieties that will likely arise.

And once you’ve identified a series of steps and a timeline for their deployment, communicate this information far and wide throughout the organization. Every team member should be informed of the vision and its goals; communicating these will drum up enthusiasm for the change while investing in members at all levels, allowing you to contribute toward inspiring employees sustainably.

Let’s look at how this approach might work in practice. Consider a nonprofit organization kicking off a capital campaign for expansion into a larger space. Informing their employees of the plan to move while it’s still in very early stages, as well as presenting them with the same PowerPoint made available to potential donors, makes them feel valued. While the campaign is going on, team members at every level have been briefed. They are available to answer questions from the public and the organization’s donors, and they appear knowledgeable and excited about the prospect of moving into a new building. When the next step arrives, no one will be surprised. Instead, most will be ready to celebrate the organization’s success.

When employees are part of the mission, their investment in the process has the potential to reach more clients and result in greater success for that organization — whether or not the business is in the midst of change.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


Photo by Matt Ryall via Flickr

Posted by & filed under Active Listening, Conflict, Corporate Culture, Leadership.

adapting to changeIt’s a new month nearing the end of the year: a perfect time to take stock. What’s working and what might need to change within your business as you start to think about 2017?

We’re kicking off a three-week blog series on adapting to change. We’ll cover: how to identify when change is needed, how to make successful transitions, and how to perpetuate new initiatives for the long haul. First, why do we need to change in business? And how do we accept (or get others to accept) that there’s a problem that needs to be fixed?

Why We Resist Change

Resistance to change is natural: when something changes, it often introduces risk and requires effort. If it were easy, every gym would be just as full at the end of December as it was the previous January. Whether in a small business or a large corporation, change can be difficult. Altering a process involves a lot of education, inspiration, and reinforcement. Resistance to change, then, is a form of self-preservation. If we’ve managed to stay alive in the status quo, why would we want to do anything to potentially upset the balance we’ve achieved?

When Change Is Inevitable

Problems are bound to arise whether you like it or not, from outside your company or within. External forces might be putting pressure on your current business model. Perhaps you’ve experienced so much growth that it’s time to scale your production or your staff. Maybe a competitive new product or service in your niche is impacting your sales, or perhaps new government regulations will make it harder to continue operating as usual. Forces inspiring change can also be internal. New leadership, conflicts between employees or departments, and/or budgetary constraints can present challenges that need to be addressed. These sorts of problems aren’t the exception — they’re a fundamental feature of running a business. Acknowledging their existence is important to head off potential pitfalls down the road.

Accepting Change Means Being Honest

The truth is that when problems arise, it’s all too easy for company leadership to put off taking action. Action is change, and change is risky. Will your business have enough resources to commit to the problem? Would addressing this issue create new problems in other areas? Will productivity, sales, or company culture deteriorate, potentially putting the entire business at risk? In the end, adaptability is not a reckless quality: it’s necessary. Successful businesses are those who are brave enough to identify problems and honest enough to admit when a problem needs to be addressed efficiently in order to avoid failure.

How to do this? First, listen to employees who are in a position to identify potential problems up front. Calling a problem to management’s attention is not a risk-free decision. Employees who feel the need to raise issues with supervisors do so because they feel invested in the company’s success; they see an issue as particularly threatening to that overall mission. Listen for urgency and an attempt to convince you that something needs to be done. Next, beware of dismissing problems out of hand. Just because it’s the first time the problem is brought to your attention doesn’t mean it’s not significant. And not having a solution to a problem isn’t a good enough reason to continue the status quo: putting off any discussions will only make it harder to solve.

Next, we’ll discuss how to begin to address problems and steps to finding real solutions.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


Photo by geralt (Pixabay)

Posted by & filed under Communicating To Manage Performance, Conflict, DISC Personality Styles, Leadership, Performance Management.

stage photoAt first glance, extroverts can seem like ideal employees. They’re affable, personable, and love being at the forefront of any issue to be discussed or problem to be solved. But at times, extroverts can come across as domineering or reckless, jumping into situations or conversations and possibly intimidating more introverted clients and colleagues. What are the best steps for managing extroverts and allowing them to thrive in a workplace environment? Read on to find out.

Understanding extroverts.

At their core, extroverts are people who find energy and inspiration in interacting with other people. Where introverts might get overwhelmed by too much social interaction and seek a quiet place to recharge, extroverts tend to find solitary situations boring and unfruitful, preferring instead to engage with others. Extroverts tend to “talk out” their problems, using the input (and attention) of others as collaborative inspiration. Often, extroverts have little self-awareness of how their vocal behaviors might influence the team; they don’t mean to sound preachy or bossy, but they’re just naturally energetic and outgoing.

Managing extroverts as team members.

Where introverts like to observe during meetings and social situations, extroverts prefer to be active participants. This can have a negative effect on quieter team members because they feel like they don’t have an opportunity to have their voices heard. Encouraging mindfulness as an awareness of oneself as part of a larger organization or context might be helpful here. Acknowledge the positive attributes of extroverts publicly, but remind them privately of the overwhelming impact they might have in these meetings. Try recruiting them as facilitators to encourage input from other less-vocal team members. Communicating the perspectives of others (while still allowing the extrovert to contribute his or her own) is a sign of competent leadership.

Allowing space for extroverts to be themselves.

Extroverts are people who tend to prefer an open office floor plan, but the distractions of frequent conversation can be troublesome for others. Keeping extroverts close together might help; they can discuss issues among themselves and leave others to work independently. If the office is too small for this to be effective, or if you have a closed floor plan, try creating a brainstorming space in an unused conference room or the office kitchen, and encourage extroverts to work closer together. Their best ideas come from these collaborative environments, and they should be fostered as much as possible.

The ability to manage different personalities is a hallmark of a strong leader. Interested in the best approaches to communicating effectively with different types of behaviors? Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


Photo by rawartistsmedia via Flickr

Posted by & filed under Communicating To Manage Performance, Communication, Conflict, Conflict Resolution, DISC Personality Styles, Leadership, Performance Management.

reading photoLast week, we touched on the impact that introverts and extrovert can have in leadership. (Recap: it’s not as important as you might think, but it does require mindfulness and different leadership techniques.) But whether you or your managers are introverts or extroverts, it’s fairly safe to say that your team will most likely be made up of both personality types. In this series, we’ll discuss ways to foster growth and promote better performance in the introverts and extroverts on your team. First up: how to help introverts succeed.

Recognize introversion as a neutral quality, not a negative one.

Especially in business, where so much day-to-day work involves interfacing with colleagues, clients, or others, extroversion is often valued as an asset for team members. But natural tendencies toward being an introvert or extrovert aren’t strengths or weaknesses in themselves — they’re neutral attributes, like eye color or height. Viewing introversion as a weakness (and revealing this attitude in your management style) can feel like a personal affront to an introvert’s identity.

Understand introversion from the inside out.

It’s helpful to truly seek to understand what introversion is and how introverts are often motivated. Introverts are not automatically antisocial or prone to avoiding the company of others; they just find that socializing takes a lot of energy and effort, and they prefer to recharge by being alone and away from the crowd. While introverts are often painted with a broad brush of avoiding social situations, they often have tremendous insight into social dynamics and their own strengths and weaknesses; they’re prone to keen observation and tend to practice mindfulness more often than extroverts do. The first step to help introverts succeed is to recognize that are often just as valuable as team members as extroverts.

Allow different personalities to flourish.

The best thing a manager can do to help introverts succeed is giving them freedom to find a workflow and a work style that will allow them to optimize their performance. Introverts find better focus in quiet spaces free from distractions, so an open office floor plan, for example, often doesn’t help them do good work. If they seem reluctant to spend hours in planning meetings or other collaborative situations, see if they might be more amenable to doing some of that work virtually in project management software. Another approach would be having them report back at regular intervals on their individual progress. Assigning tasks based on extrovert and introvert personalities might also be a good step: extroverts tend to be more “big-picture” focused and enjoy executing plans, while introverts often prefer the planning and details leading up to a launch.

The ability to manage different personalities is a hallmark of a strong leader. Interested in the best approaches to communicating effectively with different types of behaviors? Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


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Posted by & filed under Communication, Corporate Culture, Professional Presence in a Casual World.

email photoEmail ranks high on lists of top stressors at the office. Designed to make businesses operative more effectively and productively, email now creates hours spent trying to sort and archive (or find) old messages and find the elusive “inbox zero.”

Using email correctly is an important part of professional etiquette. Habits that you might use in an attempt to make things more efficient for yourself or others could end up making life miserable for your colleagues (or worse, your managers or supervisors). Think you’re free and clear from bad email habits? See if you do any of these on a regular basis.

Replying to all or CC’ing coworkers on every e-mail. If you’re sent a group email, you might think that everyone on the original thread should see your response. Not true. When you reply to all (or CC an email to your colleagues or supervisors), it sends the message that you feel your message is important enough to require them to stop and read it. It’s best to limit your responses to the original sender unless the email directly impacts everyone else. A request to solve a problem (settling on a meeting date, deliberating on how to handle a mistake, etc.) requires all voices to communicate. A simple request for information probably doesn’t.

Replying instantaneously. Of course it’s more professional to reply to an email promptly than wait days or weeks to get around to it. But in an attempt to appear prompt and organized, you might be taking on bad email habits by answering
emails too soon. When you’re constantly checking and replying to email, you send the message that you’re always available. Then, in the event that you’re in a meeting or working away from your computer or phone, colleagues or clients that you’ve “spoiled” to expect an instant reply might get the sense that you’re taking too long to respond — even if you’re not. Create a culture of reasonable expectations so that you’re not shooting yourself in the foot later on.

Expecting replies right away. On the flip side of the equation are people who feel that they must call or drop in on email recipients who don’t immediately respond. Email is asynchronous communication; it doesn’t always happen in real time. Use a messaging app or pick up the phone if you need an answer on something right away, but emailing and then calling or following up right away comes across as pestering. Save your emails for questions or requests that aren’t direly urgent.

Overusing email for projects. Email is a wonderful tool for communication, but inboxes easily get bogged down when this tool is used for managing projects. Sending proofs back and forth, for example, or keeping up with changing deadlines or details might benefit from another tool. There are all sorts of project management tools and apps out there, from Slack to Asana to Basecamp. Research how these tools might actually improve communication and follow-through with your team instead of relying on old technology to solve new problems.

Has your team adopted any office policies to counteract bad email habits? Do you think those policies make your workplace more productive?

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


Photo by AJC1 via Flickr

Posted by & filed under Communication, DISC Personality Styles, Leadership.

extrovert photoEvery so often we’ll see blogs featuring the Myers-Briggs personalities of famous CEOs. This well-known personality inventory evaluates personality types on the basis of four main variables: Introversion (I) versus Extroversion (E); Intuition (N) versus Sensing (S); Thinking (T) versus Feeling (F); and Perceiving (P) versus Judging (J). This begs the question: does being an introvert or extrovert matter when it comes to good leadership?

First let us review what makes a great leader:

  • Listening to your employees, including subordinate managers
  • Addressing employee complaints, suggestions, concerns, and personal issues at work
  • Coaching people when necessary to raise them to a higher standard
  • Trusting your employees to do the work
  • Not giving orders or mandating the visions, goals and objectives of your business, but instead soliciting this from your employees so that everyone is fully involved
  • Providing direction, when needed, to ensure that everyone is on the same page (the one they devised). A good leader communicates the vision that was set by all. If it is a vision of little interest, then another one must be found.

Back to our original question: does it matter whether a leader is an introvert or extrovert? Nowhere do we find the requirement, or even the suggestion, that leaders must only be extroverted individuals. Being an introvert does not preclude anyone from being a leader. In fact, it merely challenges them to drive their behavior in areas that might be a bit easier for extroverts. Each trait or characteristic of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator merely highlights where a leader may need heightened insight into his or her effective leadership style.

An excerpt from Personality Types in Leaders: What Works makes this point:

The question usually arises, what type makes the best leader? All types can be effective as well as ineffective. Studies of thousands of leaders and managers world-wide have shown some profile types to be more predominant, however. This is not to imply that these types make better managers, only that they are more predominant in leadership positions.

In one study of 26,477 persons in a Leadership Development Program at the Center for Creative Leadership, the following percentage frequencies were reported:

  1. ISTJ: 18.2%

  2. ESTJ: 16.0%

  3. ENTJ: 13.1%

  4. INTJ: 10.5%

 The results of this study indicate that the “thinking” and “judging” aspects of personality—being able to make rational decisions—might be far more indicative of leadership than the “I” or “E” category. Introversion and extroversion, then, do not appear to impede or influence people in leadership. The most important and lasting legacy that leaders leave is developing, strengthening, and serving other people as they lead – and both introverts and extroverts can be very proficient at doing that.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.

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Posted by & filed under Communicating To Manage Performance, innovation, Leadership.

innovation photoWhen we think of leadership credibility, the first qualities that often come to mind are trust, honesty, and respect. And with good reason: these qualities are the bedrock of any strong relationship between a leader and his or her team.

But another important characteristic of credible leadership is the ability to anticipate and adapt to change. Innovation is what keeps businesses successful in a changing market, and good leaders adopt innovative thinking and agility into everyday practice. Transformational leaders are always looking forward, finding new ways to reach long-term goals. If the only constant is change, then these leaders need to be able to adapt.

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your leadership credibility beyond trust, innovation can be a very good place to start. Begin by listening to the needs of your employees. What patterns do you find coming up in feedback? What problems have team members and managers identified that require innovative solutions? Willingness to address issues early on demonstrates forward thinking and agility. It’s only by acknowledging areas of potential improvement that a company will thrive in the face of evolving market pressures.

But identifying areas of improvement isn’t the only step to innovation. Strong leaders encourage problem-solving solutions from their teams, but they offer more than banal platitudes about creativity. What parameters (budgetary constraints, infrastructure, staffing) must the team work within? What benchmarks does the business need to meet in the process of developing new initiatives? Freedom within limits will offer teams a much-needed foundation so they can stay on task and develop real solutions. Ultimately, innovative leaders strive to balance the inspiration of the vision with the needs of day-to-day operation.

Like many other goals of a company, leadership credibility is a long-term process. Being willing to acknowledge internal and external changes, to explore potential solutions, and to provide involved guidance during the innovative process can only help to strengthen a leader’s credibility. These actions demonstrate that leaders are a vested party in the company’s success.

Leaders with the most impact are those who can build and successfully manage great teams. Every day, we help our clients and colleagues achieve their highest levels of professional presence and personal effectiveness. That includes everyone on the ladder, from company presidents to project managers to staff members. Contact us at 800-282-3374 to find out how we can help you impact your own productivity and the productivity of your entire organization.

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


Photo by Kay Kim(김기웅) via Flickr