The Pitfalls of Labels

The more time you spend in management or HR, the more you will come in contact with tools like DiSC, Forte, Myers Briggs and Insights Discovery Profiles.  These communication style surveys are great tools for inspiring conversation around how different people work and communicate.  But be careful when you use them because they come with some unexpected risks.

We seek to understand the people we work with through labels and tendencies and patterns.  When we can put a name on a behavior pattern, we feel like we’ve accomplished something.  Like we’re halfway to a motivational strategy for that person because now we know who they are.  But does that quick survey with the cool charts and the helpful colors really tell you everything there is to know about a person?

When we label people we miss out on an opportunity to go a level deeper and connect with their true motivations.  No one is one-dimensional and when you take the time to look beyond the surface, you can see a more complete picture.  And when you take that time to look at yourself and to reflect on your own motivations, sometimes you find answers to questions you didn’t even know you needed to ask.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying these tools are bad or useless but make sure you remember there’s more to the story.  Use the results to start a conversation.  Ask each person what they think is accurate and where they think the survey might be off the mark.  Use the tools as a starting point and not the end or the goal and you’ll get a lot more out of them.

 

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