top of page

Using DISC Behavioral Styles to Motivate Employees

There are many effective ways to engage employees (see our E-Reader- Motivating Others: 8 Tips to Engage Your Team) including:

  • Get to Know, Develop, and Empower your People

  • Set Clear Expectations

  • Notice What Gets Done

  • Provide Meaningful Work

  • Create Coachable Moments

  • Act on Employee Feedback

All of these approaches are effective, but as a leader, you can have the greatest impact on Employee Engagement if you customize your approach to the individual. As we all know, not every employee is motivated and engaged the same way. While one person might be energized by a challenging, risky project, another person would find that same project stressful and it would actually decrease their motivation to do the job.

One way to get insight into your employee’s preferences and motivators is to conduct a Behavioral Style Assessment. There are many great assessments, and among the most common is the DISC.  The DISC is a tool used to gain insight into both an individual’s work and personal style. More specifically:

  • How the person responds to conflict

  • What causes them stress

  • How they organize their work

  • How they solve problems

  • What motivates them

Some uses for these insights are: to improve working relationships, minimize stress, increase effectiveness, improve communication, and increase motivation and engagement. There are four primary DISC styles.

The "D" stands for Dominance

. It indicates how you approach problems and deal with challenges.  A person with a high “D” style tends to be direct and wants to take charge of the situation in order to succeed or win. They are also very decisive and focus on moving action forward. They take risks in pursuit of excellence. Their main drive is achievement or success.

The "I" stands for Influence:

It indicates how you interact with and attempt to influence others. An employee with a high “I” style tends to be outgoing and wants to influence others and inspire them to participate. They are also very optimistic. They want everyone to enjoy an experience and will look for the best in people and situations. Their main drive is collaboration.

The "S" stands for Steadiness:

It indicates how you respond to change and the pace of the environment. An employee with a high “S” style tends to be sympathetic and compassionate. They always consider what will be the best for others.  They are accommodating and want to be of help to others. Their main drive is stability.

The "C" stands for Conscientiousness:

It indicates how you respond to rules and procedures. An employee with a high “C” style tends to be precise, wants to do things right and takes pride in the quality of his or her work. They are also reflective and somewhat reserved, always thinking before speaking. They want to pay attention to only the relevant issues and are often very observant of the details. They like to maintain privacy and avoid drawing too much attention to themselves. Their main drive is perfection.

Let’s consider one of the most critical concerns to a leader, motivation:

  • A high "D" would be motivated by the opportunity to work on new and cutting-edge projects that might not get off the ground.

  • A high "I" would be motivated by team projects that are highly collaborative and involve a lot of interaction with others.

  • A high "S" would be motivated by a project that is reasonably paced, steady and involves consistent processes.

  • A high "C" would be motivated by a complex project needing in depth analysis and a long timeline to allow for perfection.


The DISC is a valuable tool for leaders looking to develop their teams on a variety of areas. In order to be an effective leader, you must be willing to adapt your style to meet the needs of others. Learning about the DISC can have a tremendous impact on the success of your team! This is the first article of our series on the DISC, and we will be launching a new article at the end of each month.

If you are interested in learning more about the DISC, we have created a brief PowerPoint presentation on the DISC, that you could use in your organization. If you are interested in taking a free DISC Assessment to learn about your own style, please click the above link to be connected to one of our consultants.

40 views0 comments


bottom of page