Selection of Project Managers in a Large International Company


There are many examples of long standing staff members being elevated to management status simply through their seniority and expertise. Often this is done without any attention to their suitability for a certain project or role.

The company involved in this case study has approximately 300 outlets spread over a large geographical area and each outlet employs between four and twelve people. The business they are in is very competitive and this requires the outlets to be rejuvenated, with new signage and merchandise layouts, every five years.

Most of the employees are involved in direct customer contact which explains why the Extended DISC® Behavioural Map below, displayed the spread of behavioural styles.

Based on the distributions of the Behavioural Map, the management team realised it would not be comfortable for most of the people in the organisation to take on the responsibility of managing the changes.

Although the company did have some basic concepts that were outlined in manuals, it was important for each outlet to take responsibility for making the changes and applying the instructions to suit local circumstances.

Management’s challenge was to select project leaders to help provide instruction and support to the outlets in the change. So, they used Extended DISC® Behavioural Assessments to put together a special team of “movers and shakers.” A group of individuals belonging to the upper right hand corner of the Extended DISC® Map were selected to become project leaders.

The project leaders were then allocated outlets where the staff and importantly the managers of the outlets were of the same age with similar backgrounds and the same professional knowledge. Using this careful selection procedure, it was easy for the project leaders to quickly adjust to their allocated outlet and they did not have any difficulty in becoming part of the outlet’s team.

They stayed at the outlet as long as the change process required their contribution and this too contributed to a seamless transfer of administration of the outlet to the permanent staff.

Rather than focusing on a candidate based on their seniority and expertise, the company utilised the DISC tool to recognise the diversity of roles, situations and people, to improve their selection of leaders.

Using their knowledge of the DISC Styles, the project leaders were aware that they needed to modify their behaviour based on the situation. They understood that to lead, motivate and influence the outlet staff, they had to identify their styles and modify their own leadership styles accordingly.

Through this process, the company avoided forcing the teams at the outlets having to work outside their comfort zones and their natural behavioural style. The company management realised that those employees whose natural behavioural styles were predominantly ”I” and “S” or combination of those styles, could have struggled to put in place the changes required without help from a “D” style “mover and shaker”.

At the same time, the project leaders were able to provide additional motivation to individuals who by nature needed more variety and change in their work roles. The whole exercise increased the flexibility of the organisation remarkably.