Using Employee Assessment Tests For Effective Conflict Resolution

by | Apr 8, 2014

Business lives in language. Getting it right will help motivate another person (or not). The role of a leader is to smooth the road so others on the team are motivated to produce their best work. How is this possible with a diverse workforce? Employee assessment tests can help provide insights into how people engage with one another and how to account for different personality types.

Workplaces are a fertile ground for conflict. You have diversity in people, personalities, culture, and beliefs. When responsibility for timelines and schedules is mixed with interoffice politics, performance pressure, and deadline stress, it can seem overwhelming at times.

According to CPP, Inc., which publishes both the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict and the Myers-Briggs programs, employees spend 2.8 hours each week dealing with conflict. This adds up to 385 million working days spent every year and billions of dollars in lost productivity. Conflict isn’t really the problem; the issue is that most of us are not trained to handle it effectively. DiSC can be an invaluable tool for managers and leaders who could use those 2.8 hours back.

Consider DiSC Styles in Action

Have you heard the phrase, “Got a minute?” If so, you know that it probably means, “Do you have an hour and a half?” This talker is about to step into your space. They love to explain everything in living color, discuss the weather and the details of their weekend, and avoid the real point.

When the talker approaches a coworker from this perspective, asking for help with a project, the talker will be shut down. The coworker wants to get on with business, and perhaps she is direct and a bit curt in her style. Discussing weekend adventures does not interest her and only wants to know the bottom line.

The talker is hurt. He feels rebuffed and wonders if maybe this coworker doesn’t like him or doesn’t want to help with his project. He wonders if she’s a High-D personality. High Ds tend to be goal-oriented, determined, decisive and no-nonsense; High-Ds are driven to succeed. High-D personalities are forces to be reckoned with, whether their workplace is a sports field or an office.

Maybe she’s driven and motivated and doesn’t want to waste time on niceties. Maybe she doesn’t understand that her talkative High-I coworker has a vastly different communications style and different needs. High-Is can be what some people refer to as “back-slappers.” They are “on” when they have an audience. They’re cheerleaders, supporters, party-throwers, and energetic. High-I’s can be tremendous assets to the team.

When we add more stress to the mix, it can put a High-D personality over the top, resulting in a vigorous reaction and snap decisions that do not function well with a High-I coworker. Alienated, the High-I type will take it personally. When a High-I individual is stressed, they keep talking and not listening, and expectations could become unrealistic. This further exacerbates the High-D’s impatience.

Clashes like this happen repeatedly in workplaces, and hurt feelings can lead to outright conflict. It often stems, though, from not fully understanding and appreciating one another. Employee assessment tests like DiSC facilitate improved understanding among teams.

For example, I am currently coaching a leader of two individuals who, while not outwardly nasty, tend to take potshots at each other. This habit has become disruptive within the organization and adds a layer of unnecessary stress. To address this situation, we are using DiSC as a tool to open communications and help this pair understand each other better. They have now become aware of the value that the other brings to the table, discovered each others hot buttons, and learned how to avoid pushing them.

The benefits of using employee assessment tests such as DiSC in conflict management situations include:

  • Understanding your personality and strengths as well as the personalities of those with whom you are working and, more importantly, how this affects your behavior
  • Discovering what drives yourself and others
  • Recognizing your ordinary style and how, when under stress, your style shifts and the effect this has on others
  • Understanding how conflict starts and developing ways to deal with it constructively
  • Learning and implementing strategies for improved communication with team members

The goal of using DiSC as a conflict resolution tool is to work through personal issues in constructive ways by understanding the personalities and styles of those with whom we work. DiSC can also be an invaluable tool for hiring the right people which can save valuable resource and time. Communication is key, and DiSC is a powerful tool that helps provide the insights we need to discover those conversations and create more collaborative teams.


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