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Good leaders understand the importance of knowing everyone on their teams. They realize everyone comes to the table with unique personality styles. If you’ve used the DISC Profile System in your business, you’ve seen this in action.
The DISC is a personality assessment tool that companies can use to help their employees discover their personality and behavioral tendencies. For example, the profile shows some people love to talk. Others dig details. Some are blunt, while others hate to be rushed.
And they all respond differently to your leadership.
That’s especially true when giving them feedback. Knowing how to talk to your team members based on their personalities makes your leadership style more effective. Here are the four different personality types in the DISC system, and a few tips on leading them well:
D – Decisive
These are the hard chargers. They are confident and blunt, and when you offer them constructive criticism, you can be direct. Don’t beat around the bush, don’t go off on a tangent and don’t use a lot of fluff.
D’s don’t like being vulnerable. That means coaching them can be challenging at times. They won’t always like it, but they’ll listen to you.
I – Interactive
These team members love praise and affirmation. I’s like to talk, so go in with a game plan or you’ll get sidetracked. Go through the normal chat on the front end (family, weekend plans, hobbies, etc.), and then give them the feedback you have. They are afraid of disapproval, so make sure to validate them, too. Let them know you’re trying to change a behavior, not change them personally.
Also, I’s can be disorganized and can sometimes lack follow-through. Go over your point several times, and follow up in an email with the same information.
S – Stabilizing
These are your most loyal team members. They care about their fellow team members and like to work with others. They value your opinion, so be careful about how you offer feedback.
First, talk about the good things they’re doing, then point out the area that needs improvement. But don’t end the conversation there. Ask them for their thoughts with questions like, “What can we do?” or “How can we make . . . ?” Notice the word we. Using “we” instead of “you” helps an S feel like you’re working together.
If you flex your D personality too much, you could violate their trust. And that’s a hard thing to earn back.
C – Cautious
These people love details and data. When you talk to them, bring examples, reports, numbers and other information to support your feedback. They may be defensive at first, but they’ll listen to your coaching if you rely on facts.
Don’t play on emotions, because that will backfire. Give C’s time to formulate a plan for progress, and agree on a time to review. Be sure to affirm their logic and precision.
Give Feedback After
With all team members, no matter their personality styles, do one more thing. Most leaders forget—follow up! Set aside time in your calendar to circle back around within a week or so, and offer help if they’re struggling.
Remember, you hired your team because of their skills and excellence. But no matter how capable they are, they can always grow. As a leader, you want to help them improve, because when they do, your business grows and wins. And those results are worth the time and effort it takes to give feedback.
Leadership and small business expert Dave Ramsey is CEO of Ramsey Solutions. He has authored numerous best-selling books, including EntreLeadership. The Ramsey Show is heard by 18 million listeners each week on more than 600 radio stations and multiple digital platforms.