The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing

Teaching Tips 

Self-Assessment and the DiSC

Karren Kowalski, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAAN

Abstract

Understanding yourself and working to increase effective communication is critical to effective teams and quality patient care. One role for staff development nurses is to help in the creation of effective teams and healthy work environments through supporting nurses to understand themselves and coworkers who have different work styles than themselves. [J Contin Educ Nurs. 2019;50(8):347–348.]

Abstract

Understanding yourself and working to increase effective communication is critical to effective teams and quality patient care. One role for staff development nurses is to help in the creation of effective teams and healthy work environments through supporting nurses to understand themselves and coworkers who have different work styles than themselves. [J Contin Educ Nurs. 2019;50(8):347–348.]

When professional development nurses work with clinical nurses, one of the most valuable learnings is to support them in discovering information about themselves and how they interact with others. Given that most health care work is accomplished in teams, strategies that support people to relate better to the other members of the team are beneficial. Multiple tools are available to reveal individual information. Many people have attended trainings that use The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), an assessment designed to help you better understand what makes you tick, how you relate to others, and how you can benefit from this knowledge in everyday life (mtbi, n.d.). The MBTI is a simple yet powerful tool that introduces a common language for referring to and discussing personality preferences that play an essential role in our everyday life and provide a framework for understanding yourself and appreciating differences in others. A downside of this tool is the number of factors (i.e., types) to be considered—16—and the difficulty many participants have in remembering their type on a long-term basis.

Another tool that is relatively simple to take and easier to remember is Wiley's DiSC®, an interesting communication tool. This tool can help nurses connect better to their team mates, as well as to patients and their families. For over 30 years, this tool has been used to help people understand a wealth of information about their workplace priorities and preferences and how to appreciate and connect to coworkers whose priorities and preferences differ from theirs. Five principles serve as the basis of this tool. First, all styles and priorities are equally valuable; no one style is better or more desirable than another, and each of us is a blend of the four basic styles. Next, each person's primary style is also influenced by additional factors such as life experience, education, and levels of maturity. In addition, understanding oneself is the first step in increasing your effectiveness when working with other team members. At the same time, learning about others' primary styles can support the nurse in understanding the differences in the approaches and priorities between themselves and other team members. Finally, the health care work environment can be improved by using this tool to build more effective relationships between team members. The tool measures preferences and tendencies but not skills and abilities. The DiSC is a tool for dialogue, not diagnosis (Scullard & Baum, 2018).

The four basic styles are D for dominance, I for influence, S for steadiness, and C for conscientiousness. Those nurses who primarily have D are usually direct in how they approach teammates. They are results oriented and firm in their communication style. They tend to be strong-willed and forceful in their approach to situations. They want to take action and want the goals to be challenging. They excel at initiating new projects and convincing others to join in the project. They become stressed when their authority is challenged, when control over aspects affecting goal achievement is lacking, when they are micromanaged with little or no independence in accomplishing goals, or when they must work with incompetent people. The nurses with a high I are influencers and enjoy meeting new people. They connect effectively with others and are enthusiastic about all types of activities. They develop warm relationships and enjoy being the center of attention. They plan the parties and perform most activities with friends. They are stressed by performing routine tasks and undertaking detailed analysis. They are also stressed by being isolated, working among unsocial people, or being in a dull setting.

Those nurses who have a strong S prefer an empathetic environment, one that is sincere and where coworkers share their feelings. They like the camaraderie of being part of a team and supporting other team members in their work. They tend to be family oriented and the security associated with strong family ties. They attempt to create a similar environment in the work setting. They like steady progression toward a goal and appreciate a stepwise process. They are stressed by having to give people negative feedback, and conflict makes them very disturbed. Being in a stressful or an aggressive work environment is extremely negative, and having to argue or speak up for their point of view is very difficult. They avoid risks and chaotic work environments at all costs. Nurses with a high S are very persistent and work until the job is done.

Nurses who have a strong C enjoy using logic in problem solving. They like being an expert and the sense of mastery it provides. They enjoy researching issues and collecting data for expert analysis. They especially enjoy finding errors or flaws and excel at establishing quality control and addressing quality issues. They especially like creating systems that accomplish goals. They are stressed by being wrong or incorrect or unprepared. They must have private time or they feel drained by excessive amounts of activity in the environment. They have a low threshold for associating with strangers and they appear to be unemotional. They have great difficulty making decisions without adequate time to conduct the appropriate analysis. They are very stressed by tight deadlines that fail to give them adequate preparation time or put them under pressure to produce.

It is easy to see how the differences can create conflict. The DiSC tool not only increases understanding of the individual taking the tool, it is easy to use the information about each basic style to understand other team members, patients, and families. The tool has a structured application that helps the nurse understand how to adapt his or her primary style to the different styles of their teammates and others. Strategies are suggested for how to adapt to the other basic styles. All these tools are based on Jungian theory, and these are two of the available tools.

References

  • mbti. (n.d.). How does the Myers-Briggs assessment work? The power of personality. Retrieved from https://www.mbtionline.com/AbouttheMbti
  • Scullard, M. & Baum, D. (2018). Everything DiSC manual. Minneapolis, MN: Wiley.
Authors

Dr. Kowalski is Professor, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, and President/CEO, Kowalski and Associates, Larkspur, Colorado.

The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

Address correspondence to Karren Kowalski, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAAN, CEO, 2172 Senecio Dr., Larkspur, CO 80118; e-mail: karren.kowalski@att.net.

10.3928/00220124-20190717-04

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