MTa + DISC: Workshop ideas and activities

The DISC Assessment is a behavioural assessment tool based on the theories of William Moulton Marston. It helps individuals to understand their behaviour and is popular with organisations keen to build effective teams and improve workplace dynamics.

In this article we’ll share DISC facilitation tips, with a focus on developing the insights it reveals to deliver lasting learning and behavioural change. We’ll also share DISC activities for small groups to develop team building, communication, conflict resolution, and more.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • What is DISC
  • Bringing DISC to life with experiential learning
  • MTa + DISC: team building activities
  • MTa + DISC: assessment activities
  • MTa + DISC: workshop ideas and activities
  • DISC facilitation tips

Click here to skip straight to the activities.

What is DISC

The DISC Assessment is a behavioural self-assessment tool based around the DISC emotional and behavioural theory, published by William Moulton Marston in 1928.

Each letter in DISC stands for a behavioural trait, with Marston suggesting that these four traits are most useful in understanding emotional expression and behaviour: 

  • Dominance (D)
  • Influence (I)
  • Steadiness (S)
  • Conscientiousness (C)

Why DISC is popular

The DISC Assessment is popular with facilitators due to its simplicity and practicality, and the actionable insights it provides. Proponents claim that the insights are easy to understand, offering value to individuals at all levels. 

The tool provides a common language which facilitators can use to quickly explain concepts and their implications, and which individuals can use to discuss, explore, and develop their behaviour. 

Limitations of DISC

There are limitations associated with the DISC Assessment, too:

  • While it grants a useful high-level overview of personality traits, these are often considered to be oversimplified and lacking in their overall utility
  • The output is a static position on the quadrant of traits, and while an individual’s position can change, the model is limited in accommodating adaptability
  • There is a strong emphasis on categorisation which may lead individuals to align their behaviours with the category, rather than trying to develop preferred behaviours
  • The DISC Assessment has good reliability but very low validity, meaning that while participants often get the same result on repeated attempts, the results bear little to no relevance to real-world situations

Bringing DISC to life with experiential learning

For facilitators looking to move beyond these limitations, pairing the DISC Assessment with experiential learning activities is the way forward. Let’s look at how experiential learning addresses each of the issues above.

Oversimplified results

Completing the DISC Assessment leads to top-level insights about personality which, on their own, provide little to no onward value. Our experiential learning kits put the theoretical knowledge into practice, letting individuals contextualise insights with reference to specific behaviours, and to review their impact and outcomes.

The result is a refined understanding of their personality traits and preferred behaviours, and of opportunities for development, all with reference to their newly acquired common language.

Static outcome

For facilitators especially, the emphasis should always be on development and change – bringing into question the suitability of a tool that gives a static position on a quadrant. 

Humans are not static, and experiential learning activities accommodate this by giving individuals agency in the direction their learning takes. Each of our kits allows facilitators to tailor their sessions to meet specific challenges or objectives, encouraging movement and growth.

Emphasis on categorisation

Perceiving yourself as a member of a particular category can be empowering, but it can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy if individuals behave in a way they may not have otherwise just because it aligns with their understanding of what the category expects.

Effective facilitation gives individuals the tools to identify and develop the behaviours that are best suited to a particular situation, without limiting them to a predetermined selection. Experiential learning activities enable this type of facilitation in a way that the  DISC Assessment on its own cannot.

Low validity

Critics claim that results of the DISC Assessment hold little bearing in real-world scenarios. Experiential learning activities simulate such scenarios, giving participants the chance to use and evaluate the impact of different behaviours in an environment that mimics the real world.

By encouraging participants to explore specific behaviours and review their impact, facilitators can create learning that lasts beyond the confines of the activity and is carried forward into and used in real-world settings.

MTa + DISC: team building activities

In this section we recommend experiential learning activities that are particularly effective at leveraging DISC insights to achieve stronger team dynamics.

Rectangle, from the MTa Team Kit

What it is: an engaging activity where many team roles are encouraged and individual characteristics are likely to be accentuated.

Key learning opportunities: 

  • Listening
  • Establishing clearly understood objectives
  • Planning before acting
  • Working together to achieve the objective
  • Revising plans as new information is received
  • Offering ideas in an acceptable way and at the appropriate time

Why it works so well with DISC: because Rectangle makes space for many team roles, different behaviours are likely to shine through. This gives lots of material for review, where individual and team behaviours can be discussed with reference to DISC traits. Participants can then identify and practise different behaviours that may have been more suitable, leading to meaningful change.

Other team building activities to use with DISC

  • MTa New Dimensions: a standalone kit that breaks down silos and fosters effective communication between people and within teams.
  • The Tower, from MTa Team Kit: this activity is great for showing how behaviours contribute to the bigger picture as well as to team performance.
  • Over the Bridge, from MTa Team Kit: this activity is long enough for different individual behaviours to shine through, giving lots of material for discussion and review.

MTa + DISC: assessment activities

The DISC Assessment is popular for assessment centres. This section recommends experiential learning activities you can use to overcome its limitations and make useful, informed hiring decisions.

MTa Select: Practical Assessment Centre Activities

What it is: our specialist assessment centre kit, designed to assess from entry-level through to middle management, and to be used in conjunction with psychometric assessment tools like DISC.

Key observation opportunities: 

  • Teamworking
  • Business acumen
  • Creativity
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Leadership
  • Reliance
  • And many more – see here

Why it works so well with DISC:

The DISC Assessment is popular in assessment centres because it gives insight into a candidate’s personality, but as we’ve seen these insights are of limited utility in isolation. MTa Select is built from the ground up to help you run better assessment centres by putting insights into practice and observing a candidate’s real behaviour in simulated workplace scenarios. 

MTa Select is a standalone kit. We’ve written more about running better assessment centres on our blog, too: check it out here.

MTa + DISC: workshop ideas and activities

Here are some fun DISC activities for a range of contexts.

DISC icebreaker: MTa Helium Stick

What it is: a quick, energising activity that breaks the ice and introduces the fundamentals of effective teamwork.

Key learning opportunities: 

  • Awareness of others
  • Communication
  • Working in harmony

Why it works so well with DISC:

MTa Helium Stick invites participants to write three words or phrases about how their team performed: a great opportunity to use the common language granted by DISC to describe and evaluate individual and team performance.

The kit is a perfect icebreaker, ideal for use at the beginning of a longer session.

Check out MTa Helium Stick here.

DISC conflict resolution exercise: Back to Basics, from MTa Select

What it is: a deceptively simple activity that requires participants to pack away components used in a previous activity, creating a situation where conflict can arise and, in effective teams, be resolved.

Key observation opportunities: 

  • Planning and organisation
  • Accuracy and attention to detail
  • Agreement to, and implementation of, quality standards
  • Recognising and managing differing perspectives: conflict resolution 

Why it works so well with DISC: individuals with different DISC scores may come into conflict, and this activity is particularly good at creating conditions where this may occur. Facilitators and participants can observe the precursors to the conflict, review how their behaviour contributed to the conflict or its resolution, and discuss different paths forward.

Back to Basics is part of MTa Select, our specialist assessment centre kit.

DISC facilitation tips

Here are some DISC facilitator tips that will help you gain more value from the assessment. 

  • Use experiential activities to build on the insights revealed by DISC, and to enshrine these as lasting behavioural change
  • Select activities that give different team dynamics and DISC traits the chance to shine through
  • Rather than stopping undesirable behaviours related to DISC traits, let them unfold and use targeted DISC discussion questions to interrogate and explore them
  • Tailor your training sessions to organisational challenges and objectives, using activities that place DISC insights into relevant contexts

Facilitating DISC with experiential learning: let us help you 

The DISC Assessment is a popular tool, but several limitations impact its overall utility. Experiential learning activities give you the tools to put the top-level theoretical knowledge provided by DISC into practice, letting individuals understand and develop their behaviour with reference to the common language of DISC.

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen team skills, run more effective assessment centres, or achieve other organisational objectives, whether alongside the DISC Assessment or otherwise, take a look at our experiential learning kits or book a call with Jamie to discuss your needs.