Team Building Exercises with DISC

Team Building Exercises with DISC

Building strong teams is one of the keys to successful projects and organizations. From a coaching perspective, I choose my approach using the Tuckman's stages of group development: the “Form, Storm, Norm, Perform” model which stands for:

  • Form: A group of individuals comes together to address a common goal, enthusiasm is high.
  • Storm: The individuals express their opinions and personalities, creating tension but building mutual trust as disagreements are resolved.
  • Norm: With clashes behind them, members share a stronger spirit of co-operation and commitment to team goals.
  • Perform: The team is more autonomous and able to make decisions with little oversight, leading to a higher level of success.

Team-building activities have different goals at different stages. Ideally, I use them in the “Form” stage, when enthusiasm is still high. My goal has been to prepare the foundation for a productive “Storm” stage when things can get a little tense. This is also a perfect time to use the PeopleKeys 4D DISC, T.E.A.M.S, Values, and BAI report to strengthen connections within the team. You may use the following exercises in conjunction with this detailed personality report.

Team Connections Beyond the Workplace

For this exercise, focus on the Behavioral Attitudes Index results since these are usually not as obvious as the DISC styles. Sometimes, you will notice people with interesting Behavioral Attitudes that may not be an obvious continuation of their personality style and this is what makes this exercise so interesting. You can also use any of the 4D report sections (TEAMS style, Values style, PowerDISC style) depending on your focus.

Have each person pick one of their top 3 strongest BAI styles and answer one of these questions:

  • What is your first memory of this characteristic manifesting itself?
  • Tell us something related to one of your top 3 BAI styles that no one here knows?
  • What childhood toy/game/gift most represents this style?

For a more interactive twist on this, have each person write down his or her answers on a post-it note. Put them all in a hat and have each person pick a note and try to guess who wrote which answer.

Reframing Negative Perceptions

As we know, each DISC style has a potential limitation which can take away from our effectiveness. Using some “reframing” techniques in conjunction with DISC styles helps lay the foundation for future tension-filled conversations. These also help move us forward when our own inner critic might dwell on our weaknesses:

  • What are the normal intentions behind my behavior?
  • Is this behavior getting me closer to my desired results? Or is it putting me further away? How?
  • In what context could this behavior be useful?
  • How does this behavior serve me? How does it serve others?
  • What assumptions am I making when I use this behavior?

With answers to these questions, write down a new way to think about your style. For example, for a “D” style, test out your new thinking by completing the following sentence: “Being demanding allows me to …” Sharing this in a group setting is a little vulnerable, but strengthens empathy among team members.

Fun and Fast Icebreaker

Finally, if you are short on time or just want a quick ice breaker, use one of the following:

  • If your strongest BAI style were an ice cream flavor (candy bar, pizza topping, etc), what would it be and why?
  • What is the connection between one of your favorite foods and your style?
  • If you could choose another personality style, which one would it be and why?
  • What’s your favorite thing about your style?

This last activity puts the participants in the least vulnerable position while still making positive connections on a personal level. Choose from these three exercises based on the culture and your desired outcome. As I opened with, ideally I like to use this in the “Form” stage, but even in the tough “Storm” stage, it can strengthen team cohesion in conjunction with the 4D reports – and it turns the report into your main training tool. The depth it adds to the team experience builds strength across the organization over time, making it easier for teams to form and perform quickly.

Learn more about DISC Certification and how it can enhance your training and coaching practice here.

Written by: Michael Dattilio

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