Different Personalities Make the World (or at Least the Office) Go ‘Round

By Nicole Ehnle, Business Development Associate

Each year, the Keystone leadership team assigns an exploratory assignment to everyone in the office, which is completed individually and then discussed as a group. In 2016 we all read the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, and each team member presented on a chapter from the book. The following year each team member chose a Harvard Case Study and presented on what they learned and how they would have handled the situation.

This year we did something different. The leadership team asked each of us to take a personality test: the DiSC Assessment for work behavior. Each person gave a presentation on their results, and then we discussed how each personality type interacts with, relates to and confronts other personality types.

What We Learned

The DiSC assessment classifies people by assigning a letter or combination of letters based on the results of a personality test. Here is what each letter represents:

  • D – Dominance (assertive, results-oriented)
  • i – Influence (social, optimistic)
  • S – Steadiness (reliable, dislikes confrontation)
  • C – Conscientiousness (reserved, analytical)

Some people fall solidly in one category, and are assigned one letter. Others have a primary style (first letter) and a secondary style (second letter). No one style is better than any other; they are just different approaches.

Within our team, we discovered that we have the following DiSC styles:

Job Title DiSC Style
Chief Executive Officer D
President i
Chief Operating Officer CD
Chief Medical Officer S
Director of Hospital Medicine Si
Regional Medical Director Si
Director of Advanced Practice Providers Si
Nurse Liaison iS
Director of Recruitment C
Recruiter Si
Recruiter i
Payroll and Accounts Receivable Manager SC
Screening and Enrollment Manager Si
Screening and Enrollment Assistant SC
Billing Enrollment Coordinator and Administrative Assistant i
Medical Records Coordinator C
Vice President of Medical Documentation Education DC
Assistant Vice President of Medical Documentation Education S
Documentation Education Coordinator CS
Office Administrator and Executive Assistant CD
Assistant Vice President D
Senior Scheduling Coordinator C
Scheduling Coordinator iS
Scheduling Coordinator Si
Program Coordinator C

As you can see, our overall culture is dominated by Steadiness. That means that most of us are reliable peacekeepers—and everyone gets along quite well. However, the few people with different DiSC styles may sometimes struggle to communicate and understand the overarching culture. Someone with a D style may feel frustrated that the majority of coworkers is more focused on keeping the peace and getting along than on getting results. A C personality, with her independent mindset and focus on accuracy, may dislike others placing more importance on social harmony than on accuracy. Knowing these differences has helped us to understand how to communicate with each other more effectively.

A Disclaimer

While most people favor one or two of the DiSC styles, none of the traits are exclusive; every individual has a little bit of each style with one or two dominant traits.

For example, as a C, I rely on analytical thinking over emotions. But that does not mean I don’t have any feelings. It simply means that when looking for solutions to a problem, I use tools like logic and reasoning over my emotions. When it comes to making decisions, you can usually count on me to make a pro-con list or spend several minutes in my own head (ignore the vacant expression). While I may feel happy, sad, angry or hungry at times, I don’t usually allow those emotions to factor into my decision-making process (okay, except when I’m hungry).

There is so much more to it—there is what seems like an infinite number of ways to describe interactions between people—how a D might interact with a C, or how an S interacts with another S, for example. Taking the test and reviewing it as a team has helped us to better understand each other, how we communicate and how we function as a unit (or several units).

Curious about your DiSC style? You can learn more about the DiSC Workplace assessment here.