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Beyond DISC: Assessing Team Dynamics by Analyzing Interactions

Optimizing team performance hinges on effective team dynamics, and assessments can be instrumental in achieving this goal. Assessments like DISC can help unravel an individual's strengths and communication styles, but they also rely on static personality types that can inadvertently oversimplify the complex interplay of dynamics within a team. To truly understand team dynamics, a more holistic approach is needed; one that couples DISC with nuanced measurement of actual demonstrated interpersonal dynamics.

 

In this post, we’ll delve into an analysis of team “Theta,” a team that volunteered to share their assessment results anonymously. Pseudonyms have been used to maintain their anonymity.

 

The analysis uses Zoom transcript data to conduct time-series and cross-sectional analyses of Theta’s team dynamics. While analysis can be conducted on a single meeting, this particular study evaluates transcripts that were collected over a six-month period, with the objective of understanding changes in the team’s dynamics over time, and pinpointing opportunities for enhancing the team’s composition and performance.

 

We've chosen to illustrate four different aspects of team dynamics:

 

  1. Group Alignment and Cohesion: Examining the collective coherence and alignment within the team to determine the extent to which team members mutually embrace common goals and understanding.

  2. Diversity of Behavioral Style: Evaluating the spectrum of behavioral styles within the team to understand how they impact team dynamics.

  3. Compatibility of Team Members: Analyzing the compatibility among team members to understand how effectively individuals collaborate and complement each other's strengths.

  4. Propensity for Collaboration: Assessing the team's propensity and capability for collaboration to reveal patterns and behaviors that either support or impede the effectiveness of teamwork.

 

1. Group Alignment and Cohesion

 

Effective teamwork hinges on team alignment and cohesion, which boost communication, productivity, decision-making, and accountability. When teams are aligned and cohesive, they can collaborate efficiently, achieve their goals, and maintain a positive working environment.

 

The analysis uses a novel and extensively validated methodology to determine how well individuals and groups align: While it may sound simplistic, previous research has shown LSM to be predictive of both group cohesion and task performance. Teams that score highly on LSM are more cohesive and perform better than those with low LSM scores.


Figure 1: Team Theta’s LSM scores suggest that team Theta maintains consistently high levels of alignment and cohesion.

Figure 1: Team Theta’s LSM scores suggest that team Theta maintains consistently high levels of alignment and cohesion.

 

Figure 2:  Team Theta’s LSM scores in team-member pairs. All of the team-member pairs’ LSM scores are average or higher, which suggests that team Theta has effective peer-to-peer relationships.

Figure 2:  Team Theta’s LSM scores shown in team-member pairs. All team-member pairs show LSM scores that are average or higher, which suggests that team Theta has effective peer-to-peer relationships.

 

2. Diversity of Behavioral Style

 

A team of individuals with varying behavioral styles can foster a dynamic environment that allows for a range of perspectives and approaches to problem-solving. This diversity not only enriches the creative process but also contributes to improved decision-making by considering various viewpoints. Moreover, the presence of diverse styles serves as a preventive measure against groupthink, promoting an atmosphere that encourages healthy debate.

 

DISC: To evaluate how team members work and collaborate, we used Receptiviti’s language-based version of the DISC assessment. While conventional self-evaluation-based DISC assessments risk introducing self-report and social-desirability biases, language-based DISC assessment is ideally suited for the social nature of the workplace because it evaluates how a person is likely to be perceived by their peers, rather than how they perceive themselves.

 

Understanding how others perceive you is crucial for grasping interpersonal dynamics, as it provides valuable insights into the impact of your actions and communication on those around you. Rather than solely assessing your own perception, prioritizing the perception others have of you allows for a more accurate comprehension of your interpersonal influence. This external perspective is key to fostering effective relationships and communication within a social context like a team, and the workplace in general.

 

Receptiviti’s language-based DISC assessment uses the four DISC profile types:


  • D is characterized as dominant; D-type people tend to be ambitious, active, and bold leaders.

  • I is referred to as influence or inducement; I-type people lead through connections, creativity, and collaboration.

  • S is characterized as stable, submissive, steady, or supportive; S-type people tend to be faithful, modest, and methodical people who value relationship.

  • C is characterized as compliant, conscientious, or cautious; C-type people prefer to do their jobs accurately, unobtrusively, and impersonally.

 

Figure 3: DISC profiles demonstrate that Theta team members represent analytic, creative, assertive, and methodical behavioral styles.

Figure 3: DISC profiles demonstrate that Theta team members represent analytic, creative, assertive, and methodical behavioral styles.

 

Reserved vs. Bold and Task-Focused vs. People-Focused: In addition to the four DISC profile types described above, Receptiviti also assesses additional work-style dimensions observed and documented by DISC inventor, William Moulton Marston: Marston observed that individuals exhibit varying degrees of outgoingness or reservedness, as well as an inclination for either task-oriented or people-oriented approaches. Receptiviti measures these using two dichotomies: “Reserved vs. Bold” and “Task-Focused vs. People-Focused”.

 

“Reserved vs. Bold”: Individuals who score high on Reserved tend to be more methodical, while Bold individuals tend to be more assertive and decisive.

 

Task-Focused vs. People-Focused: Individuals who score high on Task-Focused tend to be more detail oriented and strategic, while highly People-Focused individuals tend to be more supportive and empathetic.


Figure 4: Assessment of how each Theta team member scores on Reserved vs. Bold and Task-Focused vs. People-Focused.

Figure 4: Assessment of how each Theta team member scores on Reserved vs. Bold and Task-Focused vs. People-Focused.

 

All Theta team members demonstrate a high level of task-focus, indicating that meetings are well structured and team members are likely achievement-oriented, but members have different behavioral styles. Ryan Garza and Kyle Weeks’ language reveal a more reserved and less people-focused demeanor as compared to Lara Ferguson, Marilyn Jackson, and Henry Snyder.

 

3. Compatibility of Team Members

 

Team compatibility is crucial as it fosters effective collaboration and helps team members achieve shared goals. When team members are compatible, they can communicate efficiently, collaborate seamlessly, and address conflicts constructively. This compatibility contributes to the development of a positive team culture, fostering trust and support among members. Consequently, this positive dynamic enhances job satisfaction, motivation, and overall performance. Ultimately, team compatibility plays a pivotal role in the success of any team by enabling members to work together harmoniously and accomplish their collective objectives.

 

While there are multiple ways to examine compatibility, in this study we used four key dimensions: Social engagement, affiliation drive, self-focus (how much one focuses on themselves), and other-focus (how much one focuses on other people). Analysis of team Theta shows strong affiliation and social engagement, and a highly other-people-focused group demeanor, all of which indicate a high degree of cooperation and social connectedness between group members.


Figure 5: Social signals are indicative of high group compatibility.

Figure 5: Social signals are indicative of high group compatibility.

 

4. Propensity for Collaboration

 

Effective group collaboration hinges on communication that values the opinions and ideas of all team members. Teams may encounter challenges in team-based strategic planning when dominated by individuals with overly critical or authoritative tendencies. Conversely, teams that adopt a positive, open, and group-oriented communication style tend to be considerably more effective in their endeavors.


Figure 6: The team shows above average levels of openness and curiosity.

Figure 6: The team shows above average levels of openness and curiosity.

 

The analysis shows that the team typically maintains above average levels of curiosity and open-mindedness, which likely results in strong collaboration and ultimately fosters innovation. Teams that score low on curiosity and open-mindedness are typically less open to new ideas, which is likely to impair how innovative they are.

 

A Comprehensive View of Team Dynamics

 

While assessments like DISC provide valuable insights into individual strengths and communication styles within a team, their reliance on static personality types may oversimplify the complexity of the interpersonal dynamics that exist within a team. To optimize team collaboration and performance, it is essential to adopt a more comprehensive approach. Doing so involves integrating tools like DISC with nuanced measurements of actual interpersonal dynamics that consider group psychology and real-time interactions.


Want to know more about using Receptiviti to understand and optimize team dynamics? Get in touch!

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