New Ideas for Longtime Leaders

Some managers had been at an insurance company for 30 years.  Others had a mere decade or so under their belts.  Regardless of their tenure, however, most of them believed that their years working together had forged the management team into a smoothly running machine that operated at peak efficiency. 

The company’s goal was to improve the mangers’ communication skills.  All the potential participants in the training were sent a questionnaire to collect background information and opinions.  In addition, several mangers were interviewed for in-depth data gathering.  The surveys and interview revealed myriad issues. 

The more obvious problems included the high rate of employee turnover, which was in direct contrast to the longevity of the managers, and the large number of employee complaints about heavy stress.  There were even deeper issues like poor execution of plans, an inability to implement innovation, and a high percentage of non-engaged employees. 

Multiple problems usually have multiple underlying causes, and this was no exception.  It was believed that a chief reason for all the difficulties was the lack of knowledge that the managers had about their own behavioral styles.  They knew even less about their colleagues’ styles, and they had made no real effort to get to know one another.  The lack of team balance and clear goals also complicated the working situation, as did the staff’s collective fear of change. 

However, the biggest root causes involved poorly defined assignments, responsibilities, and deadlines.  The company simply had not undertaken an honest assessment of team effectiveness.

There were no regular interactions among the managers, other than quick status updates.  They had different behavioral roles and even different agendas. 

To design an effective solution they would have to have a program that was nonthreatening yet still loaded with insights.  It was decided that the best way to reach the participants was to develop a flexible and interactive program.  This meant designing each session only after the completion of the previous round. 

As pre-work to the formal training, the participant took the DiSC PPSS (DiSC General Characteristics Report) .  Then the results were transferred to the Online DiSC Classic 2.0 Profile, which allowed the discussion of both instruments with the managers in the first session. 

After the DiSC model was introduced to the participants, a conversation was led about the importance of behavioral styles.  The participants talked about their individual differences, and were open to a unique assignment given to them to complete before the next session.

The participants were told to identify someone in the training they wanted to improve their relationship with.  Then they were to go to lunch with this person and discuss their respective DiSC General Characteristics Reports.  This was to help them see what they needed from each other to work more effectively. 

Another project that was assigned to the mangers was to complete the Team Dimensions Profile.  At the following session, the participants went over the profile, were taught the about the Z-Process, and discussed the importance of role differences.

The participants were divided into smaller groups and pulled out the questionnaire results from the needs analysis.  The managers were asked to use the Z-Process to develop action plans to address the issues that the survey had revealed.  The participants dove into the project, which both reinforced their new sills and created potential solutions to problems that had been vexing the organization.

For the final session the DiSC model and the Z-Process were reviewed one more time.  This was to verify that the participants took the insights to heart, but also to ensure that they did not view the instruments as contradictory.

The participants also identified their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the behavioral preferences of their colleagues.  As a result, communication among the management team increased. 

Another positive development was the participants’ enthusiasm for the Z-Process.  The managers also became less hesitant to adapt to an unfamiliar role on occasion and made sincere efforts to balance their teams.

DiSC Case Study from Inscape Publishing