(3-minute insight)

A few years ago, typing ‘DISC vs Myers-Briggs’ into the trusty Google search bar would have returned around 70,000 results. Now that figure has increased to over 1 million. This shows that the question is still out there; which one is better?

I will always advocate the benefits of DISC for team hiring and people-development, however the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is also a respected and recognised tool within organisations around the world. Both DISC and the MBTI have been used by millions for gaining insights into personality, temperament and to improve communication since their inception.

DISC MEASURES: 
(D)ominance – How a person is likely to solve problems and respond to challenges. 
(I)nfluence – How a person attempts to persuade and influence others. (S)teadiness – The pace at which a person responds to change.
(C)ompliance – How a person is likely to respond to the rules and regulations set by others.

THE MBTI MEASURES: 

Introversion or Extroversion (I/E) – How a person focuses their attention. 
Sensing or iNtuition (S/N) – How a person processes information. 
Thinking or Feeling (T/F) – How a person makes decisions.
 Judging or Perceiving (J/P) – How a person interacts with the world.

Whilst there is only one official MBTI model, DISC, though still based on the work of William Moulton Marston, has a few modifications which vary amongst organisation providers. For the purposes of the following, I will be comparing the MBTI with my favoured DISC Evaluation model which I use with my clients. The MBTI was the standard in psychometric evaluations for several years. However, the popularity of DISC has grown, particularly within the business sector for the purposes of hiring, leadership and people-development. Here are a few reasons why:

1) Where the MBTI has a focus on personality (who a person is), DISC focuses on measuring behaviour (what a person does and how). The latter is far more useful when it comes to measuring and improving performance.

2) The majority of people’s DISC styles consist of two letters of its acronym. It is easier for people to remember and apply their primary and secondary styles, than it is to remember their MBTI’s acronymic combination of four over time.

3) An online DISC evaluation produces a comprehensive report, yet it is still easy to read and understand your personal styles and behaviours. A typical MBTI report is a little more complex to digest, especially if you are new to profiling models!

4) Understanding your DISC style allows for more wiggle-room when communicating with others due to the model understanding that behavioural tendencies can adjust over time. The styles of others are easier to predict than with the MBTI which, in turn, allows a person to adjust their communication styles with the people around them.

It is important to acknowledge here that the MBTI was designed for personal development, not recruitment. In fact, on their website, myersbriggs.org, they reference their ethics with regard to their Indicator being used for hiring:

It is unethical and in many cases illegal to require job applicants to take the Indicator if the results will be used to screen out applicants.

myersbriggs.org

It is not ethical to use the MBTI instrument for hiring or for deciding job assignments. However, knowledge of type theory may help people recognize why they may be satisfied or dissatisfied with their jobs, and knowledge of type almost always helps teams and co-workers communicate better.

myersbriggs.org

To answer the first question I proposed, within their own right, neither evaluation is better than the other. It is entirely dependent on what value you are looking to gain. As I mentioned previously, I am an advocate of DISC when it comes to hiring and people-development, however, the two are not mutually exclusive, each has its merits. The questions to ask yourself are:

  1. What are our goals for using these evaluations?
  2. What value can they offer me, my organisation and my employees?
  3. What characteristics are we trying to measure amongst our people?
  4. How much time do our people have to take the evaluations and go through the results?
  5. Do our people prefer something complex or something easier to understand?

To help a little further, here is a table summary of what DISC and the MBTI offer:

As always, it is down to your own discernment and preference when it comes to using any personality evaluation model for your employees and organisation.