The Hidden Message in DISC Profile Patterns

Reading DISC Assessment Graphs and Styles

Updated 7 February 2024, By Chris Schutte

woman thinking, disc profile patterns

About the Article

DISC tests tell you a lot about an individual’s behaviour by their profile type and the patterns seen in their DISC graphs.

When read correctly, DISC profile patterns can indicate the types of jobs and tasks a person may be best suited to and how they will work and communicate with other team members.

disc graph and magnifying glass, disc assessment profile patterns

Unusual patterns can sometimes occur within the graphs of a DISC profile which also help employers to quickly identify potential issues with employees and their well-being. These have become more frequent over the past few years with COVID.

In this article we will give you a beginners introduction to the main DISC patterns and styles. We will then guide you through spotting irregular DISC profiles and identifying what they tell us about the individual who completed them.

Table of Contents

Reading the DISC Profile

As those familiar with DISC will know, this psychometric test measures an individual’s behaviour across 4 dimensions: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. The individual’s results are then plotted out over three graphs.

General - Graph III

This overall self-perception based graph gives an indication of an individual’s natural behaviour – their natural self.

Intuitive - Graph II

This graph gives an indication of how an individual’s behaviour is likely to change when placed under immense moments of pressure (this does not include day-to-day pressures).

Position Adjusted - Graph I

This graph gives an indication of how an individual feels they need to change their behaviour to be successful in the work environment.

disc profile types - 3 graphs

When combined, these results tell us a great deal about the behaviour of the individual, and how they will operate under various circumstances.

Next we will take a look at the 4 main DISC graph patterns or personality types.

Patterns in the DISC Profile Graphs - Personality Types

D (Dominance) DISC styles:

People with high D DISC styles are results-focused, self-motivated, driven and direct. They will generally like a job role which provides a variety of challenges and room to be independent. 

People with this trait can be dynamic and confident decision makers and can work well under pressure.

The graph to the right shows what a high D DISC profile pattern will look like.

high D (Dominance) DISC graph or profile pattern

I (Influence) DISC Styles:

People with high I DISC styles are naturally outgoing, friendly, energetic and people focused. They are quite persuasive and can get along with most people. The high I behaviour type are open to new opportunities and will prefer variety over routine work.

People with this trait are great motivators of other people and create fun working environments. 

The graph to the right shows what a high I DISC profile pattern will look like.

S (Steadiness) DISC Styles:

People with high S DISC styles are task-focused, methodical and thorough. They are naturally reserved and reflective, with a strong ability to listen to others. Feeling secure and valued is important to people with this behaviour type, as are opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge. 

People with this trait are often well suited to administrative roles requiring patience and routine, or offering support to others.

The graph to the right shows what a high S DISC profile pattern will look like.

high S (Steadiness) DISC graph or profile pattern
high C (Compliance) DISC graph or profile pattern

C (Compliance) DISC Styles:

People with high C DISC styles are focused on quality, standards and the achievement of perfection. They are naturally detail oriented, systematic and look at the facts. Working in a structured and conflict-free work environment is important to this behaviour type.

People with this trait perform well in quality control, or jobs requiring complex problem solving.

The graph to the right shows what a high C DISC profile pattern will look like.

Why DISC Profile Patterns Matter

Practical Applications of DISC Styles

DISC profile patterns can have a powerful impact on recruitment, team dynamics, and personal development.

  • Understanding DISC styles helps you to better understand yourself and to improve how you work with others.
  • Different DISC profiles have different strengths, and some are better suited to specific jobs and tasks than others. By aligning people with the right disc profile patters with the job you can improve the quality and effectiveness of your hiring process.
  • Learning to see other people’s DISC styles helps you to better understand what drives others and how they might communicate differently.
  • People with different DISC styles can be better aligned, enabling more balanced and diverse teams that work as one. 

Expand Your DISC Knowledge and Skills

Sign up for one of our refresher or accreditation courses and learn about DISC under the guidance of an experienced psychometric expert.

Irregularities in DISC Graph Patterns - Compressed Graph

A compressed graph occurs when all 4 factors, D, I, S and C fall closely around the center line. In the case shown below, the compressed graph appears in the general graph III.

disc profile types - compressed graphs

This tells us that this person may be feeling pressurised within the current job situation. The reason behind this could be one or more of the following:

  • They may have objectives that have not been clearly defined by their manager.
  • They may have responsibilities without authority.
  • They may have too many managers.
  • They may have a very aggressive manager, with whom they have difficulty relating.
  • They may not understand their objectives, regardless of how well the manager has communicated them.
  • They are frustrated and feel they can contribute more than they are being allowed.

Compressed Graph I/Graph II

This can be encountered in both the “intuitive” and “position adjusted” graphs as well.

In the case of a Compressed Graph I (Position Adjusted) we can tell:

  • The individual may not know what is required of them in the present job. They may have lost personal direction.

In the case of a Compressed Graph II (Intuitive) we can tell:

  • The person may not be working, or business may be difficult. The individual is likely to be feeling insecure.

Compressed DISC Graphs and Covid

It is interesting but of late and during COVID our data analyses indicated that there is a significant increase in compressed graphs. Especially when you compare a person’s DISC result pre-Covid and again post COVID.

Furthermore, we have started to notice during 2022 that this pattern of compressed graphs is increasing and has become more common than what it was pre-COVID. Now, depending on which of the 3 graphs are compressed or in which combination they are compressed, the profile tells us very specifically what the cause of it may be. For example, if the General Graph 3 is compressed it is a clear indication that such a person may be frustrated. This could have a serious impact on talent management, motivation and energy.

Conclusion

The DISC profile test is an incredibly powerful psychometric tool for measuring people’s behaviour, which helps managers and employers to better understand their people and make the right recruitment decisions.

However, without accounting for some of the more irregular DISC profile types and potential errors which occur, employers may not be getting the full picture—which can lead to poor recruitment decisions.

Irregularities in the DISC profile patterns also highlight areas for potential development, helping to ensure businesses know how to better retain their best talent.

As a result, we have recently improved our DISC reports to accommodate for these irregularities (along with many others which may occur). When any of these appear in the person’s profile, the report will now include detailed information on the issue, and why it likely occurred, while offering the employer an idea of how to potentially resolve the issue.

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chris schutte, managing director at interact global

Author of this Article

Chris Schutte

Chris has 30 years experience as senior manager and entrepreneur in the Human Capital consulting and management industry, using the DISC test in his practices. He has a wealth of experience in business development, Human Resources and Human Capital risk management and turn-around strategies. His leadership experience, runs across various industries including Manufacturing, Retail, HR, etc.