For years, DiSC has enjoyed almost unbridled growth in its popularity. According to DiSCprofiles.com,
“DiSC® is the leading personal assessment tool used by more than 40 million people to improve work productivity, teamwork and communication. It is non-judgmental and helps people discuss their behavioral differences. While DiSC measures your personality and behavioral style, it does not measure intelligence, aptitude, mental health or values. The profiles describe human behavior in various situations, for example how you respond to challenges, how you influence others, your preferred pace and how you respond to rules and procedures.”
The DiSC model discusses four reference points:
Dominance – direct, strong-willed and forceful
Influence – sociable, talkative and lively
Steadiness – gentle, accommodating and soft-hearted
Conscientiousness – private, analytical and logical
But here’s the thing with DiSC. While all of the validity and reliability studies have proven it does what it purports to do and it produces results that can be replicated time and time again, it fails to explain how much of a trait you have in relation to others and in relation to what your job requires. It gives you no context to your traits.
While DiSC is exceptionally popular, there is another trait based assessment that has been around since 1955 which does provide you with a context to your traits. It is called Predictive Index or PI for short. The PI survey has also been proven to be both reliable and valid, just as DiSC has been. PI measures four personality traits – an individual’s need for dominance, whether he or she is extroverted or introverted, the individual’s level of patience and his or her need for control – just as the DiSC survey does. But here is where PI trumps DiSC significantly.
- PI provides the user with a measure of how his or her results compare to others who have taken the PI survey over time. By using the standard deviation measure (or bell curve), PI shows the user if he or she possess a trait at a “normal” level or at an “exceptional” level. Here is why this information is critical for the success of the individual. People who exhibit an exceptionally high or low level of one of the measured traits will show the world their exception in most interactions. For example, individuals who possess a level of dominance that is in the third standard deviation will show their need to drive relationships and situations in most encounters. Conversely, if an individual possess a lack of patience in the third standard deviation he or she will show the world an activity level that could almost be described as manic. The inclusion of measuring an individual’s level of each trait against the statistical norm provides both the individual and the interpreter with a context for understanding how the person shows the trait to the world.
- PI provides the user with an understanding of not just how they perceive themselves in terms of the traits, but how they perceive what level of each trait is required in their current position. This is exceptionally important because it helps an individual see if they “fit” into a specific role. This measure helps individuals plan their career based on their natural traits rather than on external forces such as money or acceptance into an organization. It also shows, if an individual is in a role that is not a natural fit, how he or she should try to manage his or her traits to perform the job more effectively.
- PI provides organizations with the opportunity to develop a profile (or PRO) based on what level of each trait is ideal to perform a specific job. For example, an accountant should probably posses a higher level of patience and a higher need for control to ensure their work is flawless. By building a PRO, an organization can utilize the PI survey as a pre-employment tool to help increase the success rate of hiring individuals who are closer to a natural fit to a specific position.
So should organizations abandon the DiSC tool? It depends on what you are looking to gleam from using the tool. The PI provides much more information than DiSC, but that also means it is more difficult to interpret for the untrained user. The DiSC is easy to understand, but that means it is doesn’t go as deep as PI. Determine where you will be using the trait based assessment. Then make an informed decision as to which trait based assessment addresses your need most fully. Don’t just blindly choose an assessment based on popularity.