Each year our company hosts a full-day retreat for everyone in the agency, which typically includes a group team building or professional development activity. Our most recent retreat featured the Everything DiSC Workplace evaluation, facilitated by a team development consulting firm (RV Rhodes, Inc.). Each of us completed the DiSC assessment prior to the retreat, and then we were able to spend a few hours that day learning about ourselves and our coworkers.
What stood out to me the most during that day was how important it is to take the time to learn about yourself, but also to learn about those you work with daily. One of the consultants illustrated a point that stuck with me. She explained that we’re all taught to follow the golden rule of “treating other people the same way we want to be treated.” But if we think about it slightly differently, we really should be treating people how THEY want to be treated – the platinum rule. As we started to go through the assessments and learn about what it all meant, it was clear that there are very different ways others approach situations and receive information. This came as no surprise, but sometimes that perspective gets forgotten during the day-to-day activities we all are involved in.
Throughout the exercise, we were able to learn about the things that motivate and the things that stress ourselves and others depending on the specific DiSC personality type we align with (Dominance, Influence, Conscientiousness, or Steadiness). We took time to define these differences. Then, we took it a step further, discussing how these key drivers really impact the dynamics of different teams within our agency when it comes to getting things done, dealing with conflict, or even just connecting with each other. This exercise provided valuable insight into how we all approach our work and each other. Once we broke out into our different groups and started to have a little fun with our type, it was interesting to see where everyone fell on the scale – some surprising and some not!
At the end of the day, we identified how each personality type was important to the work we all do, and why each type adds its own unique value to the overall culture of our company.
The exercise was a good reminder for me to take a step back and to revisit ways to improve my daily interactions and the ways I approach different situations. It gave me a new perspective on how some of the things that are difficult for me come much more easily to others, and that if we are able to identify and play off of each other’s strengths, it can be far more powerful as we work together to accomplish our goals. It was also a personal reminder, as I start to have more of an influence on helping those around me to meet their own career goals, keeping a focus on connections, and the different approaches to how others prefer to connect, is important – especially in a time where many of the connections are digital rather than face-to-face.
My advice to other young professionals, and even to those well into their career, is to always keep learning about yourself, and take the time to learn about those around you. I’m lucky in that the company I work for values these types of experiences and encourages them regularly, but it’s something that can be done outside of the workplace too – whether it’s in volunteer organizations, community groups, or simply on the street in passing.
Take notice of those around you; take the extra minute to connect with them, and make the effort to understand them. Think about other approaches or perspectives when looking at the ways you personally connect with others. With care and attention to the uniqueness of each individual, you can add value to any situation, make strong connections, and foster an environment where people can thrive.