How many times have you experienced the anxiety of a change in the workplace? This could come from a promotion, a transfer, starting a new job, or even getting a new boss. It’s an uncomfortable, but generally unavoidable part of taking on new career opportunities. Part of that innate worry stems from a place of “I hope I’m good at this”, but a lot of it can come from a place of, “I hope these people get me.” The worry is valid—being misunderstood is a major concern for most people, in all facets of life. Ted Hockey, CEO of TD Ameritrade, set out to proactively ensure his new employees (over 7,000 of them) had a clear, accurate understanding of him before his first day.
In his Fast Company article, “I wrote a users’ guide to myself, and you should, too” Hockey tells the story of how he did exactly what the title implies. He created a users’ guide on himself and distributed it to his new TD Ameritrade employees…and found the whole experiment to be a big success. “I tried to imagine everything I ever wanted to know—both the personal and the professional—about the bosses I’ve had in my career and articulate those things about myself,” Hockey says. “It took an entire weekend fueled by lots of caffeine. By Sunday, I had 4,702 words that I hoped would remove any mystery from me.”
Hockey included a lot of different information in his guide. From his personal background (family, education, etc.) to personality test info, to his preferences and pet peeves for working with others, he lays it all out, in black and white, to lift the veil of mystique that seems to inevitably form around new CEOs. After first sharing his document with his wife and children to gauge its authenticity, it was sent out to everyone at TD Ameritrade. According to Hockey, the users’ guide was met with some surprise, but was largely received with gratitude. He believes the document had not only a positive effect on his starting as new CEO, but on the overall company and meeting culture.
“If in some small way I eased just some of the apprehension about the new guy, it was more than worth it,” Hockey writes.
Leveraging Communication with DiSC®
The method of the users’ guide is certainly unconventional, but should it be? We as human beings are creatures that long to be understood and accepted—why not use some peripherals to make that challenge easier on us, especially in the workplace?
A tool like Everything DiSC Workplace® can serve as one such peripheral. The assessment does a thorough job of asking the participant adaptive questions about their personhood (if they consider themselves to be a cheerful person, how much they value results and winning, etc.) and generates a highly-detailed, personalized profile based on their answers. It covers the participant’s DiSC® style, their common stressors and motivators…but it also goes over other DiSC styles, how the user might perceive others with these styles, and vice versa. In the hands of the participant, the profile is a tool that deepens self-awareness and illuminates understanding. In the hands of the participant’s peers or managers, it’s a comprehensive users’ guide.
Below, you can see a couple examples of a Workplace DiSC map. The dot location describes a participant’s DiSC style (an acronym for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness) while the shading brings to life that participant’s unique behavioral priorities and tendencies (the primary areas where people focus their energy), such as Support or Action.
Set Your (Self-Knowledge) Up for Success
There’s value in self-knowledge, and not just for CEOs. Hockey’s idea of a user’s guide is scalable; it could range from something as extensive as his 4,000-word document to one as simple as displaying a DiSC map at your cubicle. What are some benefits of better understanding oneself, specifically through Everything DiSC? Here are just a few:
- You illuminate your own behavioral priorities and tendencies. Your DiSC profile can make you aware of certain behaviors that you just didn’t think much of before, including those that might inadvertently affect others, for better or for worse.
- You better understand your personal motivators. DiSC can help you identify why you’re drawn to certain projects or experiences more than others, and give you a deeper understanding of why you find them particularly appealing. You can read this blog post to learn more about utilizing your DiSC style to get and stay motivated.
- You’re able to understand what stresses you out—and why. Knowing your specific stressors can help you be mindful of things that might trigger you. These stressors, unique to each DiSC participant, help you build awareness in your own behavior and allow you to better handle or prepare for stress-inducing situations.
- You come to recognize and appreciate differences in people. Reviewing your personalized insights enables you to think about the people you work with in a different way. Now, you can discern (sorry, we had to) the complex sets of behavioral priorities that steer their workdays. The profile demonstrates how the different behaviors and tendencies of others are just as strong and true as your own. This helps you to not only empathize better, but appreciate differences in workstyle—and recognize that there is value in each and every style.
Hockey explains that we all have “blind spots” about ourselves that our best mirrors can point out. DiSC becomes a mirror for many participants, and is just one step, a first step, on the path to becoming acquainted with one’s own behavioral preferences and tendencies. From there, we can figure out what’s important to understand about other people’s behaviors. Sharing a users’ guide with your colleagues or employees can go pretty far, but don’t feel like you have to create your own personal manifesto when renowned, research-validated solutions are so readily available. A tool like Everything DiSC Workplace might be all you need to get the self-knowledge ball rolling.
Everything DiSC®, with its award-winning Authorized Partner Laura A. Davis, is a global leader in delivering personalized, soft skills learning experiences that have an immediate and lasting impact on the performance of people and cultures of organizations.
To learn more about how Everything DiSC can engage every individual in building more effective relationships at work, explore the Everything DiSC Workplace® application and connect with Laura A. Davis. email@example.com