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The Work Expectations Profile Takes Team From Awful to Awesome

There is such a thing as bad customer service.  And then there is appalling customer service.  The representatives of a medical-equipment manufacturer fell into this later category.

A nurse once called this company and said, “We have a patient cut open on the table right now, and your equipment isn’t working.  What do we do?”  The customer service rep’s answer was, “That’s not my job.”

Naturally, the company had a terrible customer-satisfaction rating.  So the organization’s leaders needed training to help improve the communication skills of the workers in their technical assistance center.  The workers in that unit were responsible for fielding calls about the company’s equipment, which meant customer questions could be about everything from simple maintenance to life-and-death emergencies.

After observing the issues that plagued the center, it would soon discover that the problems were vast.  People hated their jobs.  If you were assigned to this division, it meant that you were one step closer to the exit door.

Indeed, turnover was enormous at the center.  Arguments among the staff erupted frequently, and it was clear that the workers had no respect for each other.  They also refused to cooperate or put forward even a mediocre effort.

There would be 10 calls on hold, and workers were standing around gabbing or taking a cigarette break.   They would ask, “What’s in it for me?”

In such an obvious atmosphere of distrust, you didn’t have to look far to discover the underlying causes of the problems.  The employees’ needs received little consideration and the workers had no connection to the company’s values or mission.  Furthermore, the workers had adopted selfish attitudes or pessimistic mindsets, with many looking at themselves as victims.

As is too often the case, the managerial environment only aggravated the situation.  The leaders’ ideas were implemented in haphazard ways, and motivation was nonexistent.  The few hardworking employees received no attention for their efforts, while the slackers were allowed to get away with lackluster results.  However, despite these clear managerial deficiencies, many leaders simply ignored their responsibility for nurturing the negative atmosphere.

It didn’t help that it was like ‘management of the week’ sometimes.  And when employee dissatisfaction was pointed out, some managers would say, “Well, that’s their problem.”

A program was set up that would help managers and employees understand each other better.  The goals included getting participants to identify their priorities and teaching employees the importance of their roles.  Of course, a vital concept was to emphasize that the effective leaders manage the environment, not people. 

If managers don’t do that, they may have a spike of greatness, but it won’t last and then they’ll go back down to the valley.

To avoid such a depressing scenario, the organization’s managers went through a series of training that incorporated various learning assessments from Inscape Publishing.  Also a separate Customer Service Optimization program was created for the workers that was conducted concurrently with the managers’ program.
One of the methods used was distributive learning, where the managers distributed and taught their employees specific Inscape Publishing Profiles. The Work Expectations Profile was a crucial component of both programs.

The Work Expectations Profile is the best kept secret of all the profiles.  It allows us to ask, if your division could be the best it could be, what would that look like?

The Work Expectations Profile offers a nonthreatening, easy way to discuss priorities.  Because the Work Expectations Profile has good face validity with those who take it, the results inspire participants to think about their goals and needs.

After discussing the profile’s insights with the managers, they were told to administer the Work Expectations Profile to their employees, talk about the results, and define what the workers’ expectations were.  This process resulted in many surprises.

The managers said, “I always thought it was just about compensation with them.”  So the managers had to answer the question of what they expected the environment to be like, aside from pay.

With the Work Expectations Profile established as an integral part of the process, the importance of a positive attitude and good customer service was emphasized.  In both training programs, the focus was on the participants’ strengths, always keeping an eye on the objective of creating an environment where people want to apply what they’ve learned.

To that end, the participants were introduced to the Platinum Rule, which advises to treat people the way that they want to be treated.  Once the participants understood this concept, it became clear to them that people may have different priorities and yet still be valuable contributors. 

Previously, they seemed to think that if recognition or autonomy were important to them they must be important to others as well.  But they learned that using the same approach with everyone could result in very different reactions.

Further applying the lessons of the Work Expectations Profile, the managers opened a dialogue with employees over what needs could or could not be met.  If possible, the managers and workers reprioritized goals to make everyone happier.  But in situations where expectations could not be met, the managers offered a clear explanation.

At least then, people knew why.  So the employees had the choice to either let it go or let it eat them up.  That got rid of a lot of victims. 

Perhaps the subtlest of the insights that the training provided was on an interpersonal level.  The managers discovered that employees are more productive and stay longer if they‘re encouraged to use their skills.  The employees, in turn, discovered that managers have expectations of their own. 

More concrete measurements of success were soon evident, such as the fact that the customer-satisfaction rate soared from a pathetic 38% to an incredible 99%.  Before long, the CEO of the organization was hailing the formerly troubled department as one of the new shining stars of the company.  And the division that had once been a dumping ground eventually morphed into a popular destination for the organization’s best workers.

There is now a waiting list to join the department.

Credit for this transformation can be given to the insights gained by both the managers and the employees from the Work Expectations Profile and mainly to the people who wanted to make a difference.  Patience was also important.  It was stressed that the dramatic transformation took time.  The company’s ROI is monumental, and the workers have regained their sense of purpose.

People forgot that when the phone rang, it was someone on the other end who might be trying to save a life.  They remember that now.


Inscape Publishing Case Study