Workplace Stress and its Causes


Bill (for confidentiality reasons – not his real name) is a highly-skilled motor engineer. He has spent many years tutoring at a well-known technical institute and is widely respected by his peers. 

Some 10 months ago he decided that he would apply for a managerial position with an extensive new car franchise as the remuneration offered was significantly higher and he felt that it was time for a change.

The CEO of the motor vehicle dealership was impressed with Bill’s academic knowledge and employed him without conducting any DISC profile test and without considering how he would fit into the team, he would be leading. The failure to analyse Bill’s DISC behavioural style proved costly.

Bill took up the new role in January, and his job description was prepared by the CEO during the first week. Bill’s primary responsibilities involved managing a branch which employed 10 motor mechanics, a small administration team and 15 sales staff.

The role required a “hands-on” approach, which included being available to help assist in supporting the service department and becoming actively involved in the sales process. The firm has a strict budgetary control system which was heavily focused on a sales budget. The budget was, despite challenging trading conditions, considered to be realistic and achievable.

Bill and the CEO met after three months to review the branch’s performance. Unfortunately, despite a lot of hard work and very long hours, Bill had been unable to meet sales targets and the atmosphere at the branch had become uncomfortable with a fundamental breakdown in communication between management and staff.

Both the CEO and Bill wanted the management role to work, and for this reason, the CEO decided to contact a consultant. This is where our involvement began. The advisor was an accredited Extended DISC® consultant, and he was engaged in providing the CEO on workable solutions to the challenges involved in the branch.

The first step the consultant took was to obtain DISC Profile Assessments for the entire staff of thirty-two people and the CEO as well. Bill’s Profiles are shown opposite, and the very significant movement from his natural DISC behavioural style to his adjusted DISC style is immediately apparent.

Several of the staff’s DISC Profiles exhibited stress, insecurity and frustration. Bill has felt the need to suppress his natural CS style and focus on his D characteristics. This is, of course, a clear indication of the stress.

DISC Profile Bill CD Style

DISC Profile CEO D Style


The CEO, (whose DISC Profiles are opposite) did not identify that Bill’s management style was bound to be quite different from his during the interview process. He did not realise that the DISC style Bill conveyed at his interview was that of a D Style, although this was only a small percentage of his unconscious behavioural style.

Bill had obviously decided that the CEO would want a strong manager, and this is the impression he left with the CEO – a typical situation in the recruitment process.

The CEO was therefore left with the clear impression that Bill was a direct, decisive, competitive individual quite capable of managing a group of servicemen and salesmen. He also felt that he would have no difficulty in communicating with him. It will be noted that the CEO shared Bill’s C traits, but his D characteristics were much stronger than Bill’s.

Bill had no experience in management and his approach was to become demanding and blunt rather than diplomatic, systematic and conservative, which would clearly fit his natural behavioural style as a CS person. This was influenced in no small way by the natural style of the CEO, whose adjusted style was focused heavily on his D traits.

The change in Bill’s style caused him stress, but just as importantly, the team at the branch saw him as difficult to communicate with, and the pressure was affecting his relationship with them. Bill was clearly in the wrong job. The cost to the firm in replacing Bill, and his loss not only in self-esteem but in loss of income if he was to move on was something neither party wished to face, but clearly, the situation could not continue.

Fortunately, this case had a happy outcome. The CEO, recognising now the difference in Bill’s DISC Profile and understanding from the consultant what the change in his behavioural style meant, created a new position within the organisation. The job gave Bill the role of trainer and technical advisor for the group, assisting each service department as a consultant and trainer. No longer did he have to take a dominant position, and the advisory role suited his style.

The company now uses Extended DISC® behavioural reports for all recruitment situations and for retention and motivation of all staff.