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DiSCovering Best Practices at JH

DiSCovering Best Practices at JH

Over the past 2 years, JH's leadership team has almost tripled in size. This was a large movement for JH Specialty and its team. The leadership growth came from internal promotions of those stepping into a leadership role for the first time and external hires of those who created a foundation in the path of leadership. One thing that was for certain is that just implementing layers of leadership wouldn't be enough to keep JH at the forefront of one of the Greatest Companies to Work for.

In a previous blog post, you may have read about the Leadership Book Club that we created. These monthly reoccurring meetings involve reflection on leadership topics and how to incorporate our learnings within our teams. It has also evolved into a meeting where we come together and discuss our "big wins", "big rocks" and overall performance within our teams. Mixing learning and reflection with strategy has allowed us to stay in sync from the top, down.

Although our monthly meetings are impactful in the direct growth of our leaders, we wanted to incorporate best practices that not only the leaders could grow from, but also their teams. Last year, we analyzed creative ways to do this. We took a look at our engagement survey results, reviewed our previous leadership book club sessions and realized there would always be something that every person can improve on, and that is communication. Then we thought about why communication usually fails. More often than not, it is because we communicate in a way that we understand, not in which the other person may receive the information, digest it and understand it. This brought me to the idea of using DiSC tactics to teach our teams how to understand and start practicing how to communicate with someone in the most effective way.

A DiSC Roadmap was created for our leadership team in 2023 as a pilot program before launching it to our entire company. We utilized an interactive platform called Catalyst, which allows us to compare our styles with others on our team along with taking a deep dive into our styles. For 8 sessions, we got together as a leadership team and went over best practices for communicating with our teams to create motivation, leverage conflict and develop talent. Here's how we did it.

DiSC Assessment

First Phase: Understanding Yourself

We took a deep dive into our personal DiSC styles to understand our story. If you are unfamiliar with DiSC, everyone has a list of priorities that naturally motivate them in their everyday lives. We took a look at the top priorities that each person possessed and then used the other ones to find areas for opportunities to grow. We also dove into our preferred communication style, versus those on our teams (structured vs unstructured). At the end of this phase, we reviewed ways to improve team communication and committed to two or three things to work on.

Leadership Team DiSC evaluation

Second Phase: Understanding Your Leadership Style

Everyone has their own natural style, the way that we interact throughout our everyday lives. However, we tend to change our styles to adapt to being a leader. Each leader's priorities influence what they enjoy about managing and what drains their energy. People appreciate the different characteristics of leaders. We explored how to shape your style to best communicate with your team by creating awareness of misread tendencies to be proactive about sharing our intentions behind our approach and correcting misconceptions.

Third Phase: Building Up Your Teams

We dove into the best techniques to recognize the DiSC styles of the people we lead. We looked at our natural style of developing others and what the development preferences of each team member may be. To help develop our teams, we focused on how they are best motivated and what things we can avoid that may demotivate them. We also had a session that focused on healthy conflict and how we can not only focus on creating an atmosphere where conflict brings creativity but also teaching our teams how to approach healthy conflict, thus creating overall trust.

The "In Between" Phases

At the start of every session, we would go over action items that each leader would commit to from the last session. This included action plans that leaders would create for each employee, which focused on the topic of that session. It also included an activity that the leader would transition into one of their monthly 1 on 1's with each teammate that explored not only what the leader had learned in their session, but how their teams could learn as well. Learning content during a session can build great knowledge, but it is what you do with it after that is what builds our leaders and our teams.

So, What's Next?

We have developed an employee roadmap, which will provide 6 sessions to all of our employees. We will cover, understanding one's DiSC style, how it motivates and demotivates us, best practices when communicating with other styles, and how to influence healthy conflict to create great ideas and build trust. These sessions will repeat each year for those that have never attended, or those that need a refresher.