Linking Generational Strengths in the Workplace with DISC Behavioural Styles

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Using the basis of the DISC behavioural styles, it can be a very interesting process to examine how DISC plays out in the realm of a multi-generational team. Let’s have a look at each of the generations from this perspective:

  • Builders are similar to “S” and “C” styles, typically more introvert by nature. They tend to focus on laying one brick at a time and lay each brick perfectly well (all in good time) before moving on to the next brick. Their DISC strengths can be summarized as: cooperative, respectful, orderly, generous, loyal, team player and sincere.
  • Boomers tend to often be a combination of the “D” and “C” styles, with a high focus around hard work and sticking to the rules. Their DISC strengths can be summarized as: Results-driven, assertive, disciplined, task driven, persistent, logical, accountable, analytical and factual.
  • Gen X’s generally lean towards the “C” style as they strive towards working efficiently and smarter. Their DISC strengths can be summarized as: Cooperative, logical, objective, analytical and diplomatic.
  • Gen Y’s frequently come across as “I” style with some “D” where are aspire to be enterprising while having fun along the way. Their DISC strengths can be summarized as: Optimistic, fun, sociable, popular, innovative, goal focused and energetic.

The interesting part comes when we start to look at the dynamic between the generational styles.

Let’s examine the scenario whereby there is a boomer managing a Gen Y. A typical conflict that sometimes arises here is when the boomer manager is expecting a very hard work ethic and the Gen Y is constantly looking for ways to make their job interesting and fun.  The boomer can get frustrated as they expect hard work and results with certain disciplinary behaviour which tends to be rule-bound. Whilst in one respect this seems perfectly justified from the boomer, the Gen Y feels constrained and this is when things can start to get out of hand.

One approach that considers both perspectives could be: “How can we achieve the results in a fun way?” Ultimately, the boomer manager is looking for results, so they may be best to support the Gen Y worker by linking their natural talents and strengths to an improved business outcome.

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