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DCE Magazine

DISCovering The Secret to Success

Fall 2018

This DCE instructor shows how behavior analytics can create a cohesive, winning team at work.

When the pressure is on, are you Dominant, Steady or Conscientious? Maybe you're more of an Influencer, or maybe you combine two or more of these communication tendencies.

LaVasha Cain-Lobbins, MEd, PMP, CMP, says the answer can determine your most effective role in a team setting — and it's based on the DISC behavior assessment, a powerful tool that she teaches in her Project Planning course, part of the Applied Project Management certificate program.

Based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston, the assessment evaluates a person's predominant behavior type. It is simple but effective, and it can be especially useful in the workplace as well as the classroom.

“DISC is based on a series of basic questions that determine how someone is wired,” said Cain-Lobbins, a noted project manager, career coach and facilitator for a Mastermind group of the International Coach Federation. “It measures preferences and tendencies instead of skills or abilities. Managers already know their team members’ strongest skill sets, whether it is math, project management, data analysis or engineering. DISC shows how those skills can be best utilized.”

The DISC evaluation creates a quadrant map of sorts that measures each trait. Simply put, Dominant types are considered primarily confident self-starters. Influencers are mostly outgoing and people-oriented, potential consensus-makers. Steadiness types are supportive and reliable — but you also need someone Conscientious to double-check and point out potential downsides.

There's no right answer or “best” trait. They all contribute equally in their own way. And many people can be considered strong in two or more traits.

“I consider myself to be a D with some I,” Cain-Lobbins said, laughing. “DISC can be an effective tool in lots of ways. I use the assessment results to coach students on blind spots they need to be aware of, and how they affect team dynamics. DISC can even be useful in job interviews. Do you think the interviewer is, say, a D or a C? It lets you mirror their type and highlight qualifications that would appeal to the interviewer.”

Building a winning team

Anyone who has been in a business meeting knows that it can be, well, awkward at times. People can be overly cautious or sensitive, wary of speaking up, stepping on toes or damaging egos. Quite often, it doesn't lead to the most successful result for a number of reasons.

That's where the 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Teamâ„¢ come in, another valuable tool developed by Wiley Workplace Solutions and bestselling author Patrick Lencioni. Whereas DISC optimizes team dynamics, the 5 Behaviors — Trust, Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, and Results — provide a template for maximizing constructive, effective communication and planning.

“The 5 Behaviors is intended to create collaboration and establish a baseline for achieving goals,” Cain-Lobbins said. “It starts a conversation and moves projects forward without judgment, without anything being taken on a personal level.”

Simply put, the foundation for any team effort is trust. Once that's established, commitment and accountability can follow — getting everyone to commit to a single goal and then forming the best team to accomplish it.

Mastering conflict is an essential element in the 5 Behaviors construct, giving team members permission to speak up and present their ideas without being judged. Think of it as a way to bypass egos and other obstacles to progress.

“Positive outcomes can result from conflict,” Cain-Lobbins said. “Let's say you're in a meeting and the boss outlines a plan going forward, but you recall a similar plan that had been proposed when you worked at a previous job, and it failed. With a 5 Behaviors approach you could speak up, make your case and point out the reasons why it failed, without worrying about repercussions.”

These tools can be quite useful for anyone seeking a career in project management. And the DCE certificate program can open the door for beginners as well as current managers looking to get ahead.

An in-demand skill set

With the global business environment transforming at a breakneck pace, creating a new generation of skilled and innovative project managers is more essential than ever. That's the idea behind the DCE's popular Applied Project Management certificate program, offered on campus, online, and in a hybrid format.

Demand for project managers has never been stronger, and it's expected to boom in coming years. An aging workforce is creating a growing need for new PMs, said Stephane Muller, Director of Business Programs.

“With much of the available talent reaching retirement age, those seeking to start a career in project management have a great outlook,” Muller added. “According to the Project Management Institute, by 2027 employers will need 87.7 million individuals working in project management oriented roles.”

The program prepares students with hands-on projects similar to those they would face in real life, led by experienced practitioners. Recently revised to reflect the latest changes to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) — the definitive manual for PMs — the APM program satisfies the educational requirements for students to sit for the Project Management Professional Exam in as little as two quarters.

But for most, the certificate program alone is enough, a prestigious credential that can help secure a PM position in a number of fields, Cain-Lobbins said.

“Project managers are thought to be needed mostly in engineering and software development,” she added. “But the skill set can be applied to most any industry. One of my students wanted to earn her certificate for her marketing job. I once used my PM training to organize a medical conference. Project management skills can even be applied to real-life events, like organizing weddings.”

Regardless of a person's career goals, the Applied Project Management certificate can impart leading-edge skills, and even some specialized areas of self-discovery such as those taught in Cain-Lobbins’ class.

“I teach these tools in my class, to give my students an advantage that sets them apart,” Cain-Lobbins said. “I want my students to go into the workplace with unique skills that aren't in the mainstream.”

Learn more at ce.uci.edu/apm