I have gained a great deal of value out of the DiSC model as presented. One of the strengths of that model is that it takes a very active and positive approach to dealing with people who's natural tendancies are different from our own. But at times, that positive outlook fails us because it assumes that each person in each style is trying to do good work and get the job done. And at those times the model can fail us, because let's face it not all people approach life positively.
I work with one such person, a techincal resource. To be specific, he's our senior DBA in the IT group. At first thought, and on each thought through about 20, I thought of him as a high C. Always looking for order and rules, examining every situation to death at times, quiet, soft spoken, monitone voice, very inactive socially, the works. But the more I interact with him (and the more I realize that he gets on EVERYONE'S nerves and not just those with opposite tendancies) the more I realize that he's not really a high C at all. He's a high Negative-D.
He's quick to interrupt any discussion to tell you why your ideas will not work. If you give him a concept, he immediately rebuts with 10 reasons why it's impractical in reality. In his area of control he's the lord high master of his domain, and he will ruthlessly apply his ideas of control and process to anyone and every system he comes in to contact with, whether his ideas conform to the corporate ideals or not. But he rarely if ever takes action to improve a situation: he's simply very agressive in attempting to prevent things from getting worse. And did I mention that the situation is always near tragic in his world?
This guy is a human version of Eeyore, from the Winnie-The-Pooh books. And I'm not totally joking here. He actually shares many vocal traits with Eeyore as portrayed in the Disney movies and the Milne books. And hearing him say, "Don't think we should do that. Might lead to disaster, or we could all lose our tails again" is something I keep waiting to have happen. He even has the same plodding walk with the head hung low. I will confess to having been sitting there in meetings (with my head about to explode listening to all of his negative comments) wishing I had a pink felt tail, a carpet tack and a framing hammer to go after this guy with.
I've learned to let the guy discourse in his monotone about how wrong everything is, then ask him for his suggestions on how to do things "right" and make changes, not just plug another leak in the dike. This has been successful to a point, but man oh man does he take forever. (I'm a high I with a LOT of high D in me as well, could you guess?)
At first I thought it took him so long to come up with positive contributions because he was considering every option to the Nth degree in good "high C" fashion. Now I believe that he's simply so conditioned to figure out why things won't work that he actually doesn't know HOW to think about making things work better instead. This man has to work and think and struggle to create a positive thought. He's a Dark D: quick with an answer on how to perform our jobs, but the answer is always negative. Furthermore, it's an authoritarian answer that is expected to be the end of the discussion as soon as it's spoken. And this guy has no trouble thinking that if he's gotten all he wants from a meeting asking to be excused so he "doesn't have to waste any more valuable work-time." This guy is a Dark D.
I could go on, but you get the point I'm sure.
Don't get me wrong: his technical skills in this area are as good as any I've seen in 22 years of IT work. But channeling those skills in to productive work is one hell of a challenge. I won't go in to how I've tried to do this here (well, not yet) but I am intersted to hear if any of the rest of you have worked with Eeyore and what you did/do about it to get real, advancing work done?
Mark and Mike, could this be a podcast? I think it could be. What do each of the types look like when coming from a "glass is half empty" person.