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Our Company Has No Heart

“We have a problem. Our staff turnover is quite high; our people make many mistakes and do not take any initiative. Moreover it seems to be impossible to hire an HR director who can survive longer than 4 months,” said the frustrated CEO of a service management company with staff strength of about one hundred. In addition, there were many rumours about nearly everything in the company – a sign for a harmful culture.

A series of focus group interviews involving about 30 members of senior, middle management and staff level had revealed a dramatic lack of information flow and communication – as a breeding ground for rumours. Someone mentioned that he had spent days in his cubicle without talking to anyone. Management members stressed the fact that they do not want to delegate, they rather do the jobs themselves. The most remarkable comment came from a member of the middle management “Our Company has no heart”.

To identify potential drivers for this situation, a DiSC profile was gathered from all focus group members. Surprisingly, the DiSC profiles highlighted an imbalance amongst the interviewees: most of them turned out to be high “C” (conscientious) in their behavioural style, either as main profile or as secondary. A few “D” (dominant) and “S” (steadiness) people were found and – only one “i” (influential).

Clustering these profiles by functional area brought another interesting insight: some managers – consciously or unconsciously – tend to hire staff similar to themselves – probably in order to avoid communication problems with them. As a result of the high “C” organisation, communication is limited to facts and figures, people issues are not important and small talk is not necessary. The so-called informal communication in the pantry or at the copier station is not happening – because of the “no-nonsense” mindset of most of the management and staff members.

The most likely reason for the short survival period of HR directors seems to lie in the profile, too. HR directors are typically not too high in C, often they are “i”. Therefore, the CEO of the company had problems with the HR directors: “They are too chatty, going around talking to people all the time.” The latest HR director gave up since she could not change the culture. Even the lack of involvement and delegation, hence staff development can be understood looking at the behaviour of a high “C” organisation.

After receiving this sobering report, a comprehensive plan for organisational development was developed and is being implemented.


In order to deliver high performance an organisation needs besides many other ingredients a balanced culture, i.e. a set of shared attitudes, values and behaviours. Especially behaviours can drive or deter an organisation’s progress by harming own employees and even impacting customers.

Profiling helps creating awareness for ones preferences and limitations and ones role in an organisational setting. Knowing the profile of other individuals and of an organisation is a great advantage when shaping organisational structure, communication style or even job scope.

And, remember: hiring staff who mirrors yourself makes you feeling comfortable but does not help complementing your limitations.

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Amy BC Tan

Amy is the Executive Director at the Centre of Organisational Effectiveness (COE Pte Ltd). She has more than 20 years of experience in human resource management and organisational development in various industries.

She has held senior leadership positions with Nokia, Aon, Ministry of Manpower and Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee. She has led the transformation of the HR functions and several organisational development initiatives for multiple organisations.

Amy is also trained in Creative Problem Solving and certified as Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, an accredited practitioner in executive coaching and psychological instruments such as MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator®), DiSC, Harrison Assessment and Belbin Team Roles.

Amy can be reached via

  • Martin Gunawan
    3:02 PM, September 2013

    I do agree that across the organisation we need people from different Profdile (D I S or C), in order to get a comprehensive overview. Even in conducting an improvement projects, these various perspectives are needed.

    But for certain job or dept or function, don’t we need specific profile?
    For example, Accounting Dept needs mostly C employee, sales people are better with I profile, etc..

    • Amy
      11:25 AM, September 2013

      Yes, I fully agree with you. This also explains why people are attracted to certain jobs according to their basic traits. The environment then enable the individuals to perform and succeed in the roles.

  • Kenneth
    2:17 PM, January 2011

    It’s like a soccer team, you can’t have all 11 defenders, or 11 midfielders, etc. You need to have a balance.
    Are there any tools that measures how can different personalities and profiles complement each other?

  • Pamela Ooi
    4:56 PM, January 2011

    This is an interesting article especially when our staff have just undergone a DISC profiling exercise. I can’t agree more that there has to be a balance in the organisation especially at management level. A smart leader would hire someone else different from them to fill the needs and gaps of themselves to achieve optimal results and excellence in what they do.

    I’m going to show this to my boss! 🙂

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