I have two designers in different companies I own. Not surprisingly, their DISC profiles correspond to the Creative (very high on D and C, and low on I and S).

I find very difficult to give them feedback, or persuade them to implement change. They react very strongly to any feedback and tend to take it personally.

For example, even when a procedure is clearly messy and can be vastly improved, they resist to small changes I ask. They can develop many apparently coherent arguments, and discussions tend to focus on small things because of their strong verbal abilities.

I end up avoiding asking for changes and cross my fingers they do their best. They are very good in what they do, though.

However, there must be a way to provide feedback to these loved monsters of mine. And maybe being able to persuade them, without having to use my authority as their manager, and without falling in the trap of their complicated verbal arguments.

Thanks a lot for your inputs,




NickA's picture

Perhaps it would be more effective to talk to them about outcomes that you're looking for, rather than making recommendations about specifics?

As I think further about this issue, I'm starting to think "Some people are just difficult."

vittoriomessina's picture

 In the podcast about High C's downfall, Mike and Mark say that their biggest downfall is that they always try to suggest something better. I think this translate with the Creatvie profile (High C, High D, very low I and S) they tend to take any comment as a personal threat and tend to negate and justify quickly, acting very defensively.

Anyone who has dealt with artists and designers would agree..

They are very low on the I and S, so they are very low on the people and relationship. They are not tactrful, and are very cerebral. Their so called sensible has a lot more to do with rational than people side. 

In fact, they are hard to deal with (very dominant and highly cerebral, conscientouts), but there MUST be a way to provide feedback to them and persuade them.

Any imputs?




Slatham's picture

Speaking as a High D/C (7-1-1-6 creative profile) and as a Creative Manager at my workplace, maybe I can offer a few tips.

But please keep in mind that these observations/suggestions may not work in all cases. But if DISC is as accurate as I believe it to be, I think many of these observations/suggestions about high D/C's work and receive feedback may be helpful.



We love change, in many instances, status quo is irrelevant. But unless it's change we initiated or totally agree with, we can be slow to adopt it.

If we see that there is evidence that there are better processes that should be implemented, the organization and its people cannot ever implement it fast enough. So don't try to live up to our expectations

We can seem extremely cold and uncaring sometimes, while at the same time be harboring a great deal of passion and emotion. Often times we don't communicate this, or explain this in our motivations.

Somewhat against the "norm" of a high D, we love brainstorming, and can do so for days.

We feed upon information, soaking it up like a sponge, on whatever topic drives us. And if needs be, we can use this against anyone that may get in the way of our goal.

We earnestly believe that we work with the best interests of the company at heart, with reservoirs of passion driving that. And often this is the reason why we pushback when given certain types of negative feedback _______________________________________________________

How we accept Feedback:

On Negative Feedback:

Be blunt and quick to deliver, don't beat around the bush. But expect tons of honest pushback, so prep with lots of evidence supporting your feedback. If not, we tend to use our creativity to defend ourselves in lawyer-ish fashion. We're very good at creating logic puzzles to confuse the issue.

On Positive Feedback:

Many of us dislike hearing positive feedback, but without it we suffer. Positive feedback is similar to taking medicine when you were a child; tastes terrible and expect a fight to get it down, but its needed and for the greater good.

Focus on praising the work, not the person that did the work. We take it personally, so any positives we hear about the project we complete is ideal.

Anonymous feedback is the best kind. Example: During a recent conference event, my boss gave me positive feedback (which I largely ignored) on a multimedia piece shown that I had worked on. Later that evening during a conference dinner, I overheard several managers discussing the piece saying how they believed that it was a great addition to the conference. That feedback coming from people that didn't know me or that I was overhearing them, meant more than anything my boss (or anyone) could have said.


I really hope this helps. If you have additional questions, and if you'd like, feel free to send me a private message here on the forums.

Good luck.!

kima's picture
Training Badge

While I'm not familar with your situation in detail, it might be that you are confusing feedback with task assignments.  Feedback should be focused on behavior and follow the MT four steps.  So, if something didn't happen on time, your feedback would be along the lines of

1. Can I give you some feedback?

2. When you don't complete the storyboards on time...

3. ...we let our clients down and they threaten to take their business elsewhere.

4. What could you do differently the next time?

It doesn't need defending because behavior is a fact not an opinion. The storyboards were either on time or they were not.   In contrast, if a procedure is messy - fixing or improving it is a task assignment.  "The Storyboard process takes too long and your assignment is to improve it by x% by the end of the quarter." 

In both cases, you can hook the creative person because with the feedback you end step four by letting them think about what can be done differently.  In the case of the task, they can decide how to do the improvement.  If the "small changes" you are requesting are truly necessary (versus micromanaging) then those become requirements of the task.

And I find with my team, if I focus on behavior, they tend to take it less personally.



jhack's picture

Are you concerned about output or process? You mention procedures...creative folks often don't have neat and crisp process.

Is their work product good? What, from a company performance perspective, is the issue?


John Hack

diana_ch's picture

I'm a designer and also managing the creative department. I've observed as many different personalities in the past years, that there's no summing up what could work. I've experienced resistance to change, from both sides.

May be next time you'd want a procedure changed, have a little brainstorm session together with the designer(s) about how to improve it. If they are very skilled verbally, may be they'll propose good ideas that are easy for them to implement. Sometimes what management thinks is an easy fix adds quite a lot of time for designers. The fix has to be better for both sides in order to be understood and embraced. Also, the more involved they are, the better the result. It may seem like a lot large time investment for a little thing, but it might be worth it in the end.



afmoffa's picture

Vittorio writes:

"Anyone who has dealt with artists and designers would agree...

...In fact, they are hard to deal with (very dominant and highly cerebral, conscientouts), but there MUST be a way to provide feedback to them and persuade them."

Bottom line up front: I've found that mangers often assume their creative departments are unruly, and that assumption, founded or unfounded, leads to management techniques which beget unruly behavior among creative employees.

I acknowledge the irony when I say "I hate the way mangers tend to pigeonhole artists and designers." Please know that I take you at your word when you tell me how your designers react, and I hope you won't feel that I'm up on a soapbox, here.

I'm a graphic designer, which means I'm a professional artist. The word-order there is not accidental: I am a professional first, and an artist second. I'm a good designer for the same reason Jill from Accounting is a good bookkeeper: we have innate talents, we developed those talents in school, and we continually refine those talents in the workplace. When I chose the wrong typeface, it's no different than when Jill charges an item to the wrong budget: it's an error, not a sin. I make errors at my job. So does Jill. We listen, learn, and keep at it.

A lot of artists grow up hearing stuff like "you'll starve" or "art is a hobby, not a profession," and that's garbage, but some of us internalize that garbage. We start to believe we don't have a career, but rather a mystical "calling" that defines our identity. As a result, we sometimes neglect to develop a sense of professionalism. When our work gets criticized, we don't have a professional ethos to weather that criticism. We mistakenly feel that our identity is under attack. Managers and artists, in my experience, often unwittingly conspire to make this a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Creating a separate, "kid-glove" feedback mechanism for your mercurial "diva" designers is an accommodation, not a solution. A designer who takes it personally, who answers criticism by making excuses or trying to outfox you is acting unprofessionally. He worked hard on that newsletter, you don't feel it met the standards, and since a lot of design work is subjective, it's easy to fall into an impasse of "well, that's just your opinion, (and you don't like me)" You would never accept that from an accountant, right?

All of your critiques should appeal to his professionalism, same as with any employee. If his sense of professionalism is underdeveloped, you can do a lot as a manager to help him see himself as part of a larger team, someone others count on and respect. I've worked at big firms where the art department wasn't invited--was asked to keep working!-- during company-wide meetings. Do all you can (as I'm sure you do) to foster an inclusive atmosphere. Your designer may design brochures all day, but make sure that designer sees the bigger picture of how his brochures are part of a larger creation: he is creating a product for the team and creating a career for himself. When your designers have the proper mindset, they can take criticism in stride.

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

Sorry but this is way too simple. These folks aren't resisting because they are high d or high c. They are resisting because they are professionally immature. They don't hve the monopoly on resisting...lots of folks do this, across the entire spectrum of disc. I Know high I's who resist, and S's too. Its not their behavioral preference that is at issue, it'S their lack of willingness to be given guidance. And the only way out of that problem is through it. Continue with feedback about stuff you want them to change. Be polite, use the shot across the bow cast, and try to find small stuf to address. Stop letting them act as if they can choose not to be managed. If you want their behavior to change, It s reasonable for you to expect it. When they get defensive, walk away, if they do it a lot, give them feedback about them not taking responsibility for the changes you're reasonably expecting. You can do all this politely and slowly... And inexorably. Mark Sent from seat 6b, aa flight aa753, lga-DFW.