Seo agency

How to Use Personality Profiling at an SEO Agency

Owning a business involves a lot of stress, especially in times of crisis, such as the current coronavirus pandemic.

We all handle stress differently too – and our coping mechanisms can derail our activities if we don’t keep them in check.

I found that personality assessment tools helped me understand how I deal with stress.

They also helped me be more empathetic with staff and work more effectively with my co-founder. Carrie Rose.

For most of this article, I’ll be dissecting our personalities according to various tools – and what that taught us about how to structure our nearly 10-month-old SEO agency, Rise at Seven.

Which personality profiling tool should I use?

There are a number of personality assessment tools on the market, some more credible than others.

Most people are familiar with Meyers-Briggs.

DISC is one of the most popular assessment instruments and the one I’m most comfortable with (but I’ll mention a few).

Please note: I am in no way affiliated with DISC or anyone selling it.

What is DISC?

DISC is an assessment (usually online) consisting of multiple-choice questions.

Some variations include lists of loosely related words to place in order of preference.

These answers are transformed into a report about you and your personality.

DISC stands for:

  • Domination or decision.
  • Influence or Interactivity.
  • Stability or Stability.
  • Consciousness or Prudence.

These letters are used to compose your DISC personality types.

You could be a straight letter (D, for example) or a combination of two of them.

I am a dS: what does that mean?

I used a DISC variant of Innermetrix called ADVanced Insights which scores out of 100 in each category.

I have a very high Decisive (81/100) – not uncommon among business owners and managers.

I’m also off the Stabilizing charts (99/100) – not uncommon among SEO professionals, developers, and people who work in more technical disciplines.

It’s rare to find these two traits together, it’s what we call a “personality clash” (which already makes you feel good about your stress level, right?).

If we had to play word associations with only these two scores, I am at once energetic, bold, determined, patient, predictable and passive:

DISC word associationsWord associations, for high to low scores under D, I, S and C.

These ratings reflect my “natural” style: the way I tend to behave when under pressure (which, as a business owner, can be quite common).

My “adaptive” style – how I behave when I feel like I’m being watched, or how I want to behave – is pretty much in between:

DISC adaptive styling

Understanding the difference between my natural and adaptive styles is key to understanding what causes me the most stress at work.

My natural and adaptive S traits, for example, are almost at opposite ends of the spectrum:

Adaptive DISC word associations

I try being social, but that doesn’t come naturally to me.

I want to be seen as spontaneous and make quick decisions…but when times are tough and crisis hits I really want to see how it plays out and maybe I can be guilty of reaching my tried and true playbook .

Keeping an extreme personality in check day in and day out comes with its own stress – it can be hard to appear outgoing every day when that’s not who you are.

Not really understanding why I was having a rough day, I used to drink in the evening as a way to disconnect.

Now I know when I keep my true self.

Understanding my tendencies was extremely helpful when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

I might ask myself questions: am I waiting for something because I believe I will get more data on how the situation is going to play out, or is it just my personality?

Most valuable of all, however, it helped me navigate the situation with my business partner.

Understanding your personality can help you improve the way you work with others

Most of the time, Carrie and I are pretty similar. Here are our adaptive profiles, for example:

DISC Comparison

We’re both decisive in the middle of the spectrum, while Carrie tries harder with people (high I), reads the play and pays less attention to process (low S) and just goes with it (super low C ).

…but in times of stress, our personalities clash a lot. Here is a comparison of our natural styles:

DISC 2 Comparison

Carrie becomes more cautious (a 13-51C swing) and is even less likely to follow through, so an unprecedented situation like this makes it feel even more like the rulebook should be thrown out the window.

Like my natural tendency toward stability (I’m more likely to follow protocols and behave the same way under pressure), this natural tendency toward caution is the thing that’s likely to cause Carrie the most stress.

The biggest problem for us is that we both become extremely decisive (very high D) – so we have be on the same page.

When things go wrong, I may aggressively want to maintain the status quo, while Carrie may desperately want to rule everything, cut costs, and close doors.

Just knowing this helps us keep our business relationships flowing.

When we have a conversation, we know how to ask ourselves:

  • Have we made a decision?
  • Do we agree on the decision we have just taken?
  • How will we know when we need to change our decision?

Likewise, when times are good, we should temper ourselves and ask ourselves if we should be more careful at all times.

Our agency is 10 months old, for example, and we’ve hired 19 employees during that time, making the call as soon as the job comes in.

This meant we were able to scale quickly, but it didn’t give us a huge buffer for a crisis we didn’t see coming.

Where to start with personality profiling

Know your DISC profile strength help you make better decisions but, more likely, it will help you understand why you are making the decisions you are making.

DISC assessments come in all shapes and sizes and often come with a budget, but Crystal is a freemium assessment program that includes a DISC variant (and many other useful tests).

We run every new starter through Crystal because it’s connected – everyone can see their colleagues’ scores – and can be a great conversation starter for people getting to know each other.

More resources:


Image credits

All screenshots taken by author, April 2020