Monthly Archives: December 2014

DISC: Communication Tips for Is – Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we talked about the importance of DISC and D’s profile characteristics. In this next discussion, we’ll cover the characteristics of Is and how to communicate with them.

When you think of famous influencers, some names come to mind almost instantly. Bill Clinton. Robin Williams. Will Smith. They all score highly in the ‘I’ metrics.

Quick reminder: ‘I’ measures how a person attempts to influence or persuade others.

communication tips 2

I(nfluence) style characteristics

People with high scores on ‘I’ have these characteristics:

  • Emotional
  • People-oriented
  • Greatest fear is rejection
  • Disorganised
  • Optimistic
  • Encouraging.

People with a higher ‘I’ value are more verbal and persuasive in trying to influence others to their way of thinking. Consequently, the lower the ‘I’ value of an individual, the more the person will use data and facts.

The ‘I’ factor also measures the emotion of optimism. Extremely high I’s are joyful and optimistic while extremely low I’s tend to be more pessimistic.

Enhance communication with I’s

Say that your boss is a real influencer but sometimes he can be really optimistic without weighing the pros and cons. You want to communicate your concerns in such a way that he is open to them. How should you do this?

Here are some tips to enhance communication with I’s:


  • Build a favourable environment
  • Let them talk about ideas, people, their institution
  • Share testimonials
  • Allow for social time
  • Write details, but do not dwell on them
  • Create incentives for following through.


  • Eliminate social time
  • Do all the talking
  • Ignore their ideas
  • Tell them what to do.

Fun fact: When in an antagonistic environment, the high ‘I’ responds actively and may try to negotiate an agreement or apologise quickly.

If you missed Part 1 and 2 of this series, you can read them here. The next posts will cover the characteristics of Ss and Cs.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Communicating to Influence. For more information about the course, please visit our website.

DISC: Communication tips for Ds – Part 2

In Part 1 of this series, we talked about the importance of DISC. In this next discussion, we’ll cover the characteristics of Ds and how to communicate with them.

What do Margaret Thatcher, Bruce Lee, Donald Trump and Michael Jordan have in common? They all score highly in their D’s.

Quick reminder: D measures how a person solves problems and responds to challenges.

communication tips

D(rive) style characteristics

People with high scores on D have these characteristics:

  • High ego strength; seek  authority
  • Impatient
  • Greatest fear is to be taken advantage of
  • Desire change
  • Do many things at once
  • Respond to direct confrontation.

People with a higher D value are more active and intense in trying to overcome problems and obstacles. Consequently, the lower the D value of an individual, the greater the tendency for him to gather data prior to making a decision.

The D factor also measures the emotion of anger. Extremely high D’s are quick to anger while extremely low D’s are slow to anger.

Enhance communication with D’s

While reading D’s characteristics stated above, several co-workers’ names may  pop into your mind. Now that you know they are high D’s, how can you communicate more effectively with them?

Here are some tips to enhance communication with D’s:


  • Be brief, direct, to the point
  • Ask “what”, not “how”
  • Focus on business
  • Build trust by demonstrating competency and delivering results
  • Highlight logical benefits
  • Agree with facts and ideas, not with a person
  • Discuss problems in light of how they affect the outcome and  make sure you offer solutions.


  • Ramble
  • Repeat yourself
  • Focus on problems
  • Be too sociable
  • Generalise

Fun fact: When in an antagonistic environment, a high D responds aggressively and directly.

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can read it here. The next posts will cover the characteristics of Is, Ss, and Cs.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Communicating to Influence. For more information about the course, please visit our website.

Can You be Friends with Your Boss?

The simple answer is of course yes, you can. The more complicated version of that is yes, you can, with certain limits.

Let’s say you have a good job and a great boss. You click with him and you feel great to chill over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer. You don’t mind hanging out after office hours. You are not just colleagues, you are friends. However, here’s a word of caution: It’s very hard for friendship and professionalism to co-exist in a business setting.

Your boss is still the one who will be giving you performance reviews and ordering you to do things and correcting you if you’re making mistakes. Taking an advice from your boss seems ordinary. But imagine taking these advices from a friend. The message may get tangled or even not received professionally, but personally.

So what kind of friendship is favoured between a boss and his employee?

boss employee relationship

1.     Not mixing business with personal.

When you are at work, business is business and it is not personal. Being friends is okay but once you step into that corporate setting, professionalism immediately kicks in. Don’t let your guard down because he is your ‘friend’ and you end up telling him every work issue you have in your life. Despite his empathy, your boss still wants to see that project finished.

2.     Not having too much discussion on personal life.

It’s really your call, but telling your boss about problems happening back home may have a slight chance of backfiring. Say that you’re struggling with 10 different family problems, thus not meeting your deadline (by judy). Your boss, knowing what you’re going through, gives you a grace period. The problem is, this favouritism may be picked up by other colleagues and soon, your boss’ authority and your own quality of work will be questioned.

3.     Not befriending each other on social media sites.

Or if you do, avoid posting anything that are meant for close friends and family.

To learn more about how to take your career to the next level, check out our Institute of Management training modules or visit our website at


Stop Working Long Hours: 5 Tips to Maximise 8 Hours of Work Everyday

In this even tougher economy, many businesses operate on the basis that the longer an employee works, the more he will get done and the bigger the profit. Some people even work for 10 to 12 hours a day. Does this mean that more things get accomplished? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

time management

In the early 1900s, Ford Motor experimented on various working hours to maximise their worker productivity. They discovered that their employee productivity is at its best in working 40 hours a week, while adding an extra 20 hours a week will instead cause negative results.

This rule still applies in today’s business setting: People who work a solid 40 hours a week get more done than those who regularly work 60 or more hours.

Here are 10 tips to maximise our 8 hours of work.

1.     Work smarter, not longer

If you have three similar things to do (i.e. replying emails to your boss, clients, and team members), finish them in one go before moving to another task. This way you will finish a lot more tasks in a limited amount of time. Make a list of things to finish before you start working that day. Odds are you’ll finish things quicker.

2.     Do one thing at a time

Multitasking is a myth. Research has proven that by doing multiple things, we are really jumping between tasks with divided concentration. So the next time you’re in a meeting, don’t reply to emails. When you’re designing a project, don’t plan a presentation for your next client.

3.     Attend fewer meetings

Most business leaders agree that many of the meetings conducted are a waste of time. Before going into a meeting, ask yourself, “Can I finish this matter in a five-minute email?” And if you really have to go, prepare the things you need to discuss beforehand and stick to the agenda so that you don’t end up having an unnecessarily long meeting.

4.     Don’t check your email every 10 minutes

Checking our email may be the number one task that’s taking us the most time. Set up three times in a day when you need to check your email and spend the rest of the time doing your projects instead.

5.     Set up breaks between work

Studies show that our brain can work optimally on a task for 90 to 120 minutes before we lose concentration. Thus, taking frequent but short breaks can actually increase our productivity.

To learn more about how to maximise productivity in the workplace, check out our Institute of Management training modules or visit our website at

Communicating to Influence Using DISC – Part 1

This article, and the four that follow, will talk about improving communication in the workplace by knowing your DISC behavioural styles. In this discussion, we will explain what DISC is and its importance for influential communication.

In a perfect world, every co-worker, boss and staff member knows exactly how to communicate effectively to achieve the greatest result. However, in the real world everyone speaks a different language and sends ambiguous messages.

To improve communication efficiency in the workplace, many companies use DISC personality profiles. These profiles provide insights into an individual’s behavioural styles and how to best communicate with others of different styles.

communicating to influence

What is DISC?

DISC was first established by psychologist Dr. William M. Marsten in the 1900s, and since then has undergone a maturation process by different experts. DISC itself is an acronym of four different major behavioural styles – Drive, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, which are further explained below:

  • Drive – measures how a person solves problems and responds to challenges
  • Influence – measures how a person attempts to influence or persuade others
  • Steadiness – measures the pace at which a person responds to change
  • Compliance – measures how a person responds to the rules and regulations of others

Generally speaking,  DISC is a system used to explain behaviour and personality in a way that opens the door to effective communication. While DISC style identifies the interaction of four factors, this is by no means a way to label people, as human interaction is far more complex. That said, DISC measures the needs-driven motivation portion of our personality.

Further classification also divides DISC into active and passive styles and  whether they are task or people-oriented.

Active Styles: D and I

Passive Styles: S and C

Task oriented: D and C

People oriented: I and S

Thus, the D and S are ‘opposites’, while the C and I are ‘opposites’.

Knowing your DISC behavioural styles: Why is it important?

If a person communicates to you according to your behavioural preferences, you are more likely to be open and respond positively. This also shows that the other party understands and respects you.

The same goes for the other way round. If you communicate to others according to their behavioural preferences, their guard will be lowered and they will be more attentive and open to your criticism, advice or ideas.

While the extensive DISC test needs purchasing, there are some good free DISC tests on the web which will provide an overview of your behavioural style. We recommend doing the test from this site.

Over the next four posts, we will talk about the characteristics and tips for communicating with Ds, Is, Ss, and Cs.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Communicating to Influence. For more information about the course, please visit our website and follow our Twitter

Answering The Salary Interview Question – Part 3: Know What You’re Worth

In Part 1 of this series, we focused on defining a job interview and in Part 2 we talked about the importance of stating the right number. In this final part of the series, we will show you the rules of thumb for answering your own question “What is your expected salary?”

While we have shown that stating the right number is much more important, how we deliver the number, or not deliver it, is still a big question.

The short answer for this is: It depends.

salary question know you're worth

Frankly speaking, it’s always different for everyone, depending on their position, their experience, their values and personality, the company culture and the interviewer’s own preferences.

So to help you answer the question for your own specific circumstances, here are several rules of thumb to determine the best answer is:

1.    Research your position’s market value

Whether or not you have a strict policy of never being the one who states the number, coming prepared to an interview is never a disadvantage. That way, when your prospective employer states a range or requires you to give one, you are able to negotiate for a fair compensation.

2.    Know your own industry

That said, not all salary questions can be answered the same way across different industries.

Say for example, you are a computer programmer whose salary formula is based on years of experience and computer language skills. Based on this, you might not have the luxury of not stating your expected salary, as it’s pretty much black and white.

But if for instance, you are a writer/singer/painter/artist whose salary formula is much more subjective, you might be able to hold your card a little bit longer.

3.    What’s your position?

It is important to note that based on your experience and your position on the corporate ladder, you might actually have the privilege of holding your stance on not stating a number.

Look at it this way: A fresh graduate holding his stance on not revealing his expected salary might irritate the employer compared to a manager doing the exact same thing.

In short: Know what you’re worth

All three rules can be summarised into this: You need to know what you’re worth.

Ask yourself what your expected salary really is. Of course, everyone wants to improve on their career and everyone else understands this, including your future employers.

Knowing your worth is about getting a fair pay on the value you can bring to the company. Plus, knowing what you’re worth enables you to screen out the companies you don’t want to work for.

Remember: There’s no right or wrong answer in the salary question

When it comes to the salary question in an interview, there’s no such thing as black or white, or a right or wrong answer. Finding the right person for the job is about finding the right key as well as the right lock, so as an interviewee, you have an equal right to negotiation.

Whether you state the number or the employer gives you the range first, knowing your worth enables you to quickly decide whether or not the job is right for you. As much as you don’t want to be underpaid, the company doesn’t want to overpay you either.

Plus, if the ‘to die for’ company thinks that you’re the right piece of the puzzle, they will be up for negotiation.

If you missed them, check out Part 1 and Part 2 for more insights into answering the interview question “What is your expected salary?” Join the conversation and tell us your interview stories in the comments section!

3 Leadership Tips Every Leader Must Know

There is a lot of emphasis on good leadership nowadays and we are never short of tips to take our leadership to the next level. A good leader knows how to take responsibility while at the same time empower their employees. He knows where he wants to take his people to in five years’ time.

Here are three other leadership tips less known, and yet very important to note.

leadership tips

1.     Help others

While it might be obvious that a leader or a manager’s job is to get as much profit as possible, it might be less obvious for a leader to actually help others, especially their own employees.

A leader who genuinely helps his team to grow and explore their potentials – not just for the benefit of the company but also for their own personal benefits – is more likely to create a strong, professional working environment.

2.     Don’t only learn from your mistakes, let others learn from them too

Even the greatest leaders make mistakes. Sharing your victories may motivate your employees to achieve higher standards but sharing your mistakes will also make them learn. Many leaders think that sharing their mistakes will make them look weak. On the contrary, employees who know that their leaders are not ashamed to admit and learn from their mistakes are more likely to do the exact same thing themselves.

3.     Correct them in person, praise them in public

When giving criticism, a good leader knows not to embarrass their employees. Yes, you might not think that way when you are correcting them in the middle of a meeting, but he might be feeling that you are attacking him. If he feels threatened, his productivity will decrease as well.

Praise, however, works in the opposite way. If someone does a good job, praise them in public as it will build their self-confidence and sense of belonging. Make a point that you value him and his contribution to the company.

Want to learn more about how to be a great leader? Visit our courses at

5 Tips for Empowering Employees

Every leader wants empowered employees. Managers want people who take initiative in solving problems and completing tasks that are given. We want our employees to take control without needing us to guide them 24/7.

That said, despite the advantage of empowering our employees, many leaders do not invest significant time in creating an environment of empowerment. Here are five tips to make your company a place where people feel valued and ready to step it up.

empowering employees

1.     Make your employees believe they are valued

People are a company’s most valuable asset. If you have good business plan and yet no manpower behind the wheels to take your business from good to great, your business will suffer. Customers, clients and partners connect with people and not only your business brand, thus it is really important to remind your employees of their value in the business.

2.     Create an environment that encourages open communication

Companies that work on top-down management may cause employees to take little initiative in solving problems. They may feel like it is useless to give their opinions as it will be dismissed by their leaders. In such case, leaders need to constantly let their employees to work for solutions instead of just giving orders of what to do.

3.     Foster self-improvement

When an employee makes the wrong decision, many leaders would be hesitant to give them another opportunity. However, this will stop the person to take initiative or to try harder next time around. As a leader, tell your employee that making mistakes is natural, and provide the context on which his mistakes are made. Try to give other perspectives instead of just finger pointing that what he’s doing is wrong.

4.     Support their independence

Nobody likes a boss who looks over his employees’ shoulders all the time. Practise trust on your employees and give them some space to practice their authority in the field. Wait for them to surprise you. Most often, they will.

5.     Appreciate their effort

Say “Thank you,” to your employees. Take the time to visit their desks and say, “Great work on the project yesterday.” An employee who feels appreciated will put more energy to produce even greater work.

Want to learn more about how to empower your employees? Visit our courses at

5 P’s for Planning Effective Meetings

Depending on your workload and the type of job you currently have, you may need to attend anywhere from two to 20 meetings each week. And yet many leaders agree that meetings are mostly a waste of time. They are ineffective and dragging, and most often they are spent talking about random things other than the actual agenda.

While we can’t always refuse to attend meetings, we can increase the quality and effectiveness of our meetings so that our time is managed properly.

Here are 5 P’s to help you plan better meetings.

planning effective meetings

1.    Purpose

Purpose talks about the reason of why this meeting is held in the first place. Ask yourself and your team – why are we holding this meeting? How will this meeting help me/the team/the project? If this meeting is not helping you to achieve your goals, perhaps those sixty minutes of your time can be spent doing something else.

2.    Products

Product here means outcomes or results. Here are the questions to ask beforehand: How will we know we have achieved our purpose? What specific measurable results do we want?

3.    Process

In your meetings, you need to specifically address the process – the methods or tools to achieve your goals. What methods will you use to attain your products, for example: brainstorming, structured problem solving? It is also important to try to stick to the agenda to avoid wasting time when discussions start to go off topic.

4.    People

The fourth P is People, which talks about the attendees and stakeholders. Through this meeting, can we identify the people who will be significantly impacted? Who has the essential information? Who needs to be involved in the decision making process? Who can sit in for the meeting when one of the invitees can’t attend?

5.    Preparation

The last P is Preparation, which is the most important P in planning for more effective meetings. Ask yourself: What can people who attend the meeting do before the meeting to assume success? Make sure you ask them to send you suggested topics to discuss prior to the meeting to ensure that everything important is covered.

This article is modified from the Institute of Management training module: Diploma of Project Management. For more information about the course, please visit our website.


Answering The Salary Interview Question – Part 2: Stating The Right Number

In Part 1 of this series, we focused on defining what a job interview really is. In this next discussion, we’ll cover why the salary question is a vital part of an interview.

Chances are you are at the very least a little bit uncomfortable when getting to the interview question “What is your expected salary?” But most often, this is the stage when you make or break the decision to hire you.

salary number in interview

The salary question

If you have reached this phase of an interview, it can mean: a) the employer wants to screen out the people who are under you and way out of their league; or b) the employer likes you and before he offers you the job, he wants to know if you are both on the same page.

So how should you answer the salary question?

While some experts suggest that to win the salary game (that is, not stating a number and if you must, not being the first to say a figure), others prefer you to honestly state your expectations (with smart ways of voicing this, of course). Before you get to that decision, here are several things that you need to remember:

1.    You are not there to “buy a house”.

The common perception of the interviewer/interviewee relationship is eerily similar to someone buying a house.

The buyer (i.e. the employer) wants to get it as cheap as possible and the seller (i.e. the interviewee) wants to get it for as much as possible. Walking in with this attitude is detrimental for both parties, as unlike a house sale, both sides need to live with each other for a long time after the negotiation is finished.

2.    “Whoever states the number first loses.” Not.

Negotiating your salary isn’t a poker game and it shouldn’t be one. That would suggest it is a win-lose situation and if you go into an interview with that mindset, it is possible that you are not eager to add real value to the employer either.

In some cases, it is not wise to state your number while in others, you can’t move forward with your offer without this being spoken. Thus, both parties will ideally approach salary negotiations as a win-win situation, and still maintain respect if the number is just not right for them.

What matters most in answering the salary question is not whether we state the number first, but if we actually state the right number.

And yes, stating the right number is an even trickier business.

If you missed Part 1, you can read it here. In the third and final part of this series, we will give you the rules of thumb for how to state the right number.