The Hidden Message in DISC Profile Patterns

22 July 2022, By Chris Schutte

disc graph and magnifying glass

About The Article

DISC tests tell us a lot about an individual’s behaviour in their profile type. However, unusual patterns can sometimes occur within the graphs of a DISC profile. These have become more frequent over the past few years with COVID. What do these irregular profiles tell us about the individual who completed them?

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

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

However, we can encounter irregularities in the patterns on any of these graphs.

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 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 - Why These Are Important?

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.

Learn More About DISC

Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for a webinar we will be conducting, taking a more detailed look at the irregular profile patterns which occur in DISC.