The Discus software introduces a new illustrative concept for representing behavioural traits - the Trait Grid. This article explains how to interpret the Grid display.
The Trait Grid maps a series of distinct personal traits, showing not only how strongly those traits are represented in an individual's behaviour, but also how they compare between a person's natural and work styles. To see the Trait Grid, open a set of DISC results in Discus and choose 'Traits'.
The Grid displays sixteen different factors within the candidate's behaviour, including all twelve sub-traits. Discus calculates values for all of these from the candidate's Internal Profile, and from their External Profile. The Trait Grid is the result of plotting these two values against each other.
Values from the External Profile are plotted across the Grid, so that higher trait values are shown further to the right. Similarly, values from the Internal Profile are plotted on the vertical axis, so that higher trait values from this Profile appear nearer the top of the Grid. By calculating these two values for a trait, we can plot it in the appropriate place on the Trait Grid chart.
Figure 1 illustrates a fairly typical result of this process. This is the kind of outcome we would expect to see where the DISC graph shapes on the Internal and External Profiles are relatively similar to one another. As a result, the traits form an orderly line across the Grid.
Because the underlying DISC profiles are similar, it's no surprise that the traits shown on the Grid have similar values. Some, like Independence and Self-motivation, are high on both the Internal and External Profiles, and appear towards the top right of the Grid. Others, like Patience and Cooperativeness, are low on both the profiles, and so they fall in the bottom left-hand part of the Grid.
The Grid is divided into four quadrants, and each of these relate to a different classification of traits. As we've observed, in the case of figure 1, the traits are confined almost exclusively to the top-right and bottom-left quadrants.
Permanent traits are those that appear in the top-right quadrant of the Grid. These are the traits that show strongly in both the Internal and External Profiles, meaning that they can be expected to form a regular part of the candidate's behaviour. They're referred to as 'Permanent' because they will tend to be seen in different situations, and can be expected to persist over time.
The opposite quadrant, to the bottom-left, is labelled Inactive, and contains those traits that have low values on both the Internal and External Profiles. This means that the traits will only rarely be seen in the candidate's behaviour, and the closer to the bottom-right corner the trait appears, the less likely it will be to emerge.
Traits that appear in the central part of the Grid are neither Permanent nor Inactive - that is, the candidate is perfectly capable of displaying them when a situation seems to require them, but they cannot be said to form a significant part of that candidate's behaviour.
Where DISC Profile Series shown greater divergence between the Internal and External Profiles, the orderly pattern seen in Figure 1 quickly breaks down. Figure 2 shows the more diverse pattern that appears when a Profile Series shows more emphatic Shifts between its profiles.
The variation between the underlying DISC profiles is mirrored in the variation in the traits shown, which are now broadly distributed around the Grid. In particular, the quadrants to the top-left and bottom-right, which were hardly used in the Grid shown in Figure 1, now each contain their own selection of traits.
Traits that appear to the bottom right of the Grid are Transient traits. These are traits that score highly when assessed on the External Profile, are have much less representative of the Internal Profile. In other words, they represent aspects of the candidate's behaviour that they're adopting as a response to their current environment. The fact that these traits aren't mirrored in the Internal Profile shows that they don't represent a significant element of the candidate's longer-term style, and they're therefore 'transient' in the sense that they will tend to be seen only as long as the candidate's situation remains as it is.
In the opposite, top right, quadrant are traits that score highly on the Internal Profile, but show a far lower value on the External. These are Potential traits, features of the behaviour that the candidate sees as important, but is not presently demonstrating in their behaviour, at least in their working life. These traits are potential in that they can be expected to emerge in different situations, for example where the candidate feels particularly at ease, or - conversely - where they are placed under pressure.
The traits shown on the Trait Grid are colour-coded according to the DISC factors that make them up. So, for example, the Dominance-based sub-traits (Efficiency, Self-motivation and Independence) are all shown in red.
With a little practice and experience, the Discus Trait Grid can become a powerful tool in understanding the dynamics of a candidate's behaviour.
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