This blog is a continuation of my October 2017 discussion of employee communication tactics.
Last month I discussed the importance of assessing the efficacy of an organization’s internal communication. I believe that every professional communicator should possess the skills and tools necessary to conduct these types of analyses, and to make appropriate recommendations for improvement. This requires an understanding of the broad-scale research methods I presented in last month’s blog, as well as knowledge of individual assessment instruments that can foster more effective interpersonal communication. Below I share three of the most frequently used assessments in our practice; we have found that these specific individual assessments greatly enhance the manager-employee relationship.
DiSC The DiSC assessment provides an informative look at an employee’s personal work style preferences. The assessment focuses on four behavioral preferences: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. Each of these categories reflects an individual’s primary internal driver – for example, those who score highest in the area of Conscientiousness often hold “correctness” as a strong value. Those who favor Influence are frequently driven by a desire for relationships, engagement, and interaction with others. How a leader communicates with these different work styles will have a significant impact on relationship management, message acceptance, and performance. With regard to DiSC preferences, it’s essential that these be acknowledged and accommodated whenever possible, lest employees begin to feel misunderstood or, worse, disrespected.
If you’d like to complete a free online DiSC assessment, you can do so here.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). From my view, the MBTI is the quintessential “style” assessment – it provides exceptionally valuable information about individual personality types and preferences. Using a 16-item scale, the MBTI delivers powerful insights into such personality factors as Introversion-Extraversion, Sensing-Intuition, Thinking-Feeling, and Judging-Perceiving. Here is an example of how the MBTI can improve interpersonal communication:
Sally, the company accountant, has tested high on the Sensing scale. This means she likely has a preference for factual information, including data and other metrics. Sally also may prefer the opportunity to review reports, graphs, charts, and other analytical materials. Sally might dislike engaging in more intuitive activities, such as brainstorming, war rooms, and open-ended discussions.
A manager with this knowledge of Sally’s preferences can establish a productive and cooperative working relationship and communication pattern that benefits both of them.
Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Created by Dr. Richard Bandler John Grinder in the 1970s, NLP is "a model of interpersonal communication chiefly concerned with the relationship between successful patterns of behaviour and the subjective experiences (esp. patterns of thought) underlying them and a system of alternative therapy based on this which seeks to educate people in self-awareness and effective communication, and to change their patterns of mental and emotional behavior” (Bandler, n.d.).
Simplified, NLP identifies an individual’s “representational style,” that being either visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. How a person “relates” to the world (visual images, sounds, or feelings/tactile experiences) is typically reflected in their language and nonverbal cues. For example, a person with an auditory representational style might use language such as:
“I hear you.”
“That rings a bell.”
“That’s music to my ears.”
“Sounds like a good idea to me.”
If you’re not an auditory person, these statements may not “resonate” with you – and this the phenomenon that NLP quite deftly addresses. Learning how to mirror others’ representational styles creates a foundation for mutual understanding and synchronistic communication.
If you’re interested in learning more about NLP and its use as an effective workplace communication tool, I highly recommend the book, Instant Rapport, by Michael Brooks. You can also take a free (informal) NLP assessment here (a more complete assessment is provided in Brooks’ book).
By gleaning an understanding of dominant preferences, personality, and other individual differences, communicators can make significant contributions to an organization’s culture, climate, and performance.
Debra Davenport Ph.D. is a member of the online faculty of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.
*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.