Has your behaviour changed during lockdown?

By Paul Lillywhite

Cartoon Thought Bubbles People at Work

DISC theory has been around for nearly 100 years, it was created by an American psychologist William Moulton Marston back in 1928. His premise was based on how an individual views their working environment. Some will perceive it as hostile and antagonistic whilst others will perceive it as friendly and favourable. This creates a continuum between these two extremes, and everyone can identify with a point somewhere on this continuum, which is one of the reasons this is such a versatile assessment.  The individual then makes a decision to take an active style and do something about their environment whilst others will decide to take a more passive approach.


As you can see from the diagram above this gives you the 4 quadrant Model known as DISC, with the four quadrants being:

Dominance – Active behaviour to a hostile environment.

Influence – Active style in a favourable environment.

Steadiness – Passive behaviour in a friendly environment and finally.

Compliance – Passive behaviour towards a hostile environment.

There are many variations of this model now available in the marketplace, InterDISC is a relatively new player, it is an ipsative questionnaire consisting of 28 questions and takes approx. 8 minutes to complete.  The results are presented via 3 graphs showing preferred style, any modifications currently showing and behaviour under extreme pressure or instinctive style. The variations shown between these 3 graphs can be significantly important in understanding how the person is coping with the current environment.

I profiled someone last week where their profile was showing frustration, a lack of direction and an issue around having more than one boss. During the feedback it was obvious that these had been created purely because of the situation so many of us have found ourselves in over the past 2 years.  

When you receive your results, the report will highlight things such as your motivators and potential limitations, your preferred way of communicating with others and how you can contribute to a team.

However, the most important area for me when you complete an assessment is to understand yourself, however Self Awareness, a little bit like common sense is not as common as people think!

I gave feedback to a PA a few years ago and one (just one) of the words in her report caused her to believe the whole report (all 9 pages) was completely wrong? I asked her which word she was referring to and it was “stubborn”. I replied are you strong willed, persistent, firm, and independent? She said yes, I am all of those things but I am not stubborn!!


Above is an example of the output from an InterDISC assessment, you will see there is a centre line across all three graphs, any factor on or above this line is known as a working strength any below the line, a support factor. The intensity of the factor increases the further away you move from this line, and you read the most intense factors first when giving feedback. This profile is therefore known as a CS.

So back to the question at the start of the blog, as you now know your behaviours at work stem from how you perceive the working environment, which has changed significantly over the past 2 years for everyone, social distancing, wearing face coverings, furlough etc. If you had a profile similar to the one shown above (CS) and you are motivated by standard operating procedures, clear guidelines, security and the status quo – your world will have been turned upside down working from home.

I know many employers that equipped their people with a laptop and hooked them up with a zoom account. I know of people that had to work on their kitchen table with their partner and 2 kids surrounding them.

A “D” led profile will see this as a challenge and may be motivated for a while but equally they tend to get bored quickly if locked up for too long. An “I” will be devastated because they have lost their social interaction. All in all each and every profile shape will have struggled to some degree over this period, and the stats are quite clear in confirming this from people looking for new roles to the highest level of mental health related absenteeism ever recorded.

So what can we do about it? Both for yourself and if you manage or lead a team of people for them to.

Firstly, take some time to understand yourself, take an assessment or read up about behaviour, think about your environment what you like and don’t like, and how certain situations make you feel? Then realise that just because you like something done in a certain way that might not be the same for everyone:

by this I mean there is a rule that says treat people how you would like to be treated. A far better rule is treat people how they would prefer to be treated – definitely not the same!  

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