How DiSC profiles can help your MSP business

Richard Tubb

We often talk about people being seen as a “good fit” for one type of job of another.

Traditionally people with a friendly, outgoing nature seem to make great Customer Service or Client Account Managers. Likewise, people with a steady demeanor appear to gravitate towards professions like Accountancy. Although this is not always the case, it certainly seems that way.

However, sometimes what seems like a good fit can be a mismatch. In the MSP world, somebody who is outgoing and friendly might feel like a good fit for a Helpdesk – but if they aren’t fond of details or structure, they might be a total nightmare when it comes to delivering efficient service delivery through set processes and systems.

So how do you make sure that you’re hiring the right people for the right roles within your MSP business, or alternatively, are assigning the right responsibilities to your existing team?

What is DISC?

DiSC is a behavioral assessment model that can help classify an individual's behavior, both naturally (who they are) and adapted (how we are in our work environment).

DISC is an acronym for:-

  • D = Drive
  • i = Influence
  • S = Steadiness
  • C = Cautious

These four areas are grouped in a grid with D and i sharing the top row and representing extroverted aspects of the personality, and C and S below representing introverted aspects.

By answering a series of simple questions (typically word associated in nature) in an assessment, a DiSC profile is produced which helps determine what type of personality an individual is, their natural tendencies, and attributes that may not come naturally but need to be actively worked on.

Understanding DiSC Profiles

Some people have a mixture of the categories, but typically everyone will have one or two predominant attributes that gives indications to their personality type.

For instance, somebody who scores a high D score might be very focused on dealing with problems and challenges, and might be described as demanding and forceful. A well known high D might be Sir Alan Sugar, or just about any contestant from “The Apprentice”.

Someone who scores a high i tends to influence others through talking and activity, and tends to be emotional.

Somebody with a high S wants a steady pace and security, and does not like sudden change, while a high C likes to do quality work first time, and are careful and cautious.

Clearly, if you put a high D and a high S together then you’re going to hit challenges as the high D gets impatient and wants to forge on, whilst the high S wants to slow down and do things right.

None of the attributes are classified as “strengths” or “weaknesses” – that is, unless, as the old saying goes, you try to fit a square peg into a round hole.

A high S who is working as a Salesman would probably find it very, very challenging and stressful, while a D or an i might enjoy it. Likewise a D or an I working as a book-keeper would be tearing their hair out in no time at all!

Getting the most from DiSC profiles

From an MSP’s perspective, knowing the attributes of your team and helping them understand how to interact with each other is important. It can help teams blend together and minimize friction between different members – both towards the responsibilities they are assigned and their relationships with each other. For instance, a high S might make a good Project Manager, but not a good member of the Helpdesk – where challenges change by the day and sometimes by the minute.

When I was an MSP owner, we not only undertook DiSC profiles for our existing team, but also DiSC profiles for the shortlist of any potential new employee we interviewed. This helped us to make sure we had the right mixture of people within our business.

When I provide help for IT companies, helping MSP owners to understanding their own DiSC report is useful in highlighting which areas they may wish to look for external assistance with. If you are considering going into business with a new partner – through a merger or a buy-out – then, for the two new owners, understanding your DiSC profiles could you understand how you will work together.

DiSC Resources

You can find a whole host of DiSC assessment providers online. One of the most noted is Inscape Publishing which sells its tests via a network of coaches and consultants who work with clients to help them understand their DiSC profiles. While a standalone DiSC profile is easy enough to read, having the expert assistance of a coach who specializes in DiSC really helps you understand the report.

DiSC profiles certainly aren’t a cure all to the challenges of team building and employee harmony. But they can provide surprising insights into an individuals behavior, and by both the individual and organization being aware of their natural abilities and areas they may find more challenging – it’s much easier to adjust day-to-day routine and on-going development accordingly.