The Power of DISC Language

Improving Communication During High-stress Situations and Making Performance Evaluations More Meaningful

Debbie Cronin is an administrative manager responsible for directing a busy 30-person department at St. Peter’s Health, where she works with a diverse team of professionals from a variety of practices. When Debbie is on the floor, she wears many hats, acting as is the admin of the day, the house supervisor, the wound and ostomy nurse manager, and the float department manager. Not only is she accountable for the floor, but she also has to contend with a multitude of personalities, work behaviors and communications styles throughout her day. All of this, coupled with a non-stop stressful work environment, can be a challenge to say the least. 

One leadership tool that has helped make the process smoother is the DISC Assessment. Debbie and her colleagues took the assessment, with eye-opening results. 

“I appreciate the DISC defining people’s behaviors more eloquently. DISC has been helpful in teambuilding. It helped me understand the differences in people, and understand why you see what you see. Versus other assessments, where you get told this is what you are, with DISC there is more to the story. It helps you understand what it all means,” she said.

Understanding her own DISC profile, and that of her coworkers, gave Debbie greater insight into the reasons behind their behaviors and their communication styles. It allowed her to more deeply appreciate the way her staff worked, and even to understand their preferences for receiving feedback. Not only that, but Debbie found that she could even identify a person‘s DISC type based on behavioral signs she learned from the DISC debrief.

Using her increased insight, she even adjusted the way she conducts performance reviews, adding language and measurement that ties to employees’ DISC profiles.

Debbie’s executive coach, Lori McNeill, said, “It was wonderful to see Debbie and the entire department take lessons from DISC and apply them to their work together. Using DISC has allowed her to be more effective in a multitude of ways, one of which is performance management, speaking a language that resonates with their styles and how they want to be communicated with.

“She works in a high-paced environment and with many staff members from various departments. Given the work environment, she wants to be as effective in the moment as possible, so she doesn’t have to correct communication mishaps later, and she has been able to achieve that using DISC. 

Lori continued: “The other remarkable thing was Debbie taking the DISC language into her performance evaluations. The magic of using DISC during an evaluation is that it dramatically opens up communication. If you communicate with someone the wrong way, you can actually shut them down without even meaning to do it, and you miss an opportunity to review work the person has done and to align on future goals. After that, it can be difficult to get your footing again. DISC can help in the preset moment, and it can also have an impact on the future."