Hi friends,

I've been listening to these podcasts for a couple of years now and have incorporated some aspects into my everyday work (some more successfully than others!).

I was hoping for some guidance on two specific items:

  1. I currently have most "manager" type responsibilities, but am not an official "manager" with direct reports and such. How should I (if at all) be rolling our the trinity in my current role?
  2. I started off on the wrong foot with one of the team members (A1) who works with me on about 60-80% of the projects they are involved in. What should I do?

Here's the backgrond information for both questions (1, 2 above)

  • My DISC profile: High D, Mid I, Low S, High C
  • Team structure: 1xSenior Manager, 2xSeniors, 4xTeam Members
  • Started in this role about six months ago. I was hired with the view from the Senior Manager to promote within 12-18 months to fill the Manager gap and have been advised they will put me up for promotion closer to the 12 month timeframe if I continue progressing
  • Nature of the work: 1-3 month projects with myself and 1-2 team members
  • 2 of the Team Members work primarily on my projects.
    A1 about 60-80% of the time.
    A2 about 70-90% of the time.
  • My recent performance discussion had no surprises as I openly discuss "development areas" with my Senior Manager. The general positive feedback was:
    (a) technical and project skills and solid 
    (b) self-aware, adaptable and flexible to change my behaviors and
    (c) stakeholder wise, very good with all stakeholders my level and upwards.
  • The one development area we are working on together is my leadership skills (ie my relationship with A1 and A2 in particular)
  • A2 (mid D,I,C, low S) joined a little after I did and the relationship seems solid
  • A1 (high S,C) has been within the team about 12 months

Specifically for 1.

  • I am very much accountable for leading and managing and assigning tasks to A1 and A2 while we are working on projects together
  • I do not have any official performance appraisal or managerial administrative responsibilities outside of that
  • I've been having weekly 1:1 with A2 since they started as I was also responsible for "onboarding" them and they have found the 1:1s to be useful (our Senior Manager is very time poor due to the size of the team)
  • I had a few 1:1 with A1 when I first started (for other reasons) but these have since been cancelled at A1s request
  • I do provide positive feedback to both A1 and A2, on average once a day, when deliverables are of good quality.
  • Adjusting feedback is generally limited to a 3 strikes and I get frustrated "rule". The first two times, I'll genereally let slide with a quick informal discussion just to address the situation.

 Specifically for 2.

  • Some time after the 1:1 were cancelled, A1 made the same error (which impacted our deliverables and our stakeholders) three times within a very short period of time. In hindsight, I clearly over-reacted out of frustraction and gave some formal feedback to A1 (both via email cc: the Senior Manager; and also in person at A1s desk). The feedback was effective in that the error hasn't happened again, but was probably not very nice to A1 and would have been embarrasing. In addition, I had been pushing A1 with some reasonable, but tight deadlines to meet which they were not use to (high S,C).
  • I was informed in my next 1:1 with my Senior Manager that while he understood my reaction, the approach/manner I delivered the feedback was a bit harsh and could be improved (which I agreed with).
  • I also took note that the culture of my new team members was quite different (think higher S,C) than I was use to (D,I) and as such I would have to adjust accordingly.
  • In my interactions with A1, I have since lowered my high D significantly, and tried (with some difficulty) to increase my S. These efforts were also acknowledged indirectly by A1 who provided feedback to my Senior Manager which was shared in a subsequent 1:1 with my Senior Manager

Q1 - Management Trinity

  • How should I best apply it to my current role?
  • What do I do about the lack of 1:1 with A1, and their desire not to have them?

Q2 - first impressions with A1

  • This was our first proper project together and I made a poor first impression which regrettably will last for a little while. I've worked hard on improving things, but it is an uphill battle.
  • I plan to apologise directly to A1 (I was on the fence about whether I should or not, but have decided this is a good building block to further our relationship).
  • What can I do to best improve the effectiveness of my relationship with A1?

 Thanks greatly in advance for any insights and advice you may have!!



svibanez's picture

It seems you're in a tough spot, but nothing you can't overcome.  It sounds to me like A1 may be thinking "Who does Fluffy think they are?" (or, if they were 6 years old, "You're not the boss of me!").  My opinion is that you may be more effective using the Project Manager O3 model.  I say this because it appears that while you're responsible for the work that A1 and A2 perform, you have no line authority over them, and A1 appears to recognize that.  Of course, there may also be some hostility based on them having been with the team longer, but you're in the leadership role.

I think that by approaching them in this manner, you'll be able to build the relationships and get good status on their work while recognizing that you don't have any role power.  Hopefully, they'll accept that approach and start working better with you while you remain in this position.  Once the promotion to manager comes through, you'll be ahead of the game in terms of building relationships and the transition to manager/direct O3s should be easier for you.

Regarding your communication style, I can absolutely relate to your plight.  As a high D, I tend to get right to the point and not think much about how the message is received.  Mark routinely comments that communication is what the listener does.  It's taken me a while, and the Dale Carnegie Course, to start taking the edge off how I talk to people.  As a result, I enjoy better relationships with co-workers now, and they continue to improve.  This is something you can do that will pay off big as you move up the ladder.  It turns out that it's really not that hard once you put your mind to it.  Your plan to apologize to A1 is certainly a step in the right direction.

I hope you find some nugget in this that you can use.

Steve I

DiSC 7114

fluffy's picture

Thanks very much Steve.

I have to admit it never hit me that the project podcasts are potentially better suited to my current role!

And yes, I'm sure there was a who is this fluffy character feeling!

It's interesting because I'm in a bit of an in-between project manager / line manager role as I'm working with the same team members (A1, A2) most of the time and I always saw myself more in line with being a "pseudo line manager".  

I've skimmed through the slides for the project one on ones, feedback and reporting. They look very applicable (and simpler to implement) with my current role and help very much with Q1. 

Q1a. So in terms of "rolling out the trinity" does this mean it is not applicable (ie the timeline and such) in my case? I can just have the project 1:1s and provide feedback (steps 2/3 for both affirming/adjusting feedback) during the projects?

A1 has no objection to having "1:1s" during the projects - so that's not an issue. I labelled them as "status meetings" about 2-3 times a week. We stopped the 1:1s after the project wrapped up. With A2, I plan on keeping the 1:1s for the short-term since we are working together for the next 3 months or so and will re-consider when/if they roll off my projects.  

Thanks again.

Mark's picture
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...because you're not one yet. I say that with no intent at offense.  Whether you think you should be, or you wish your boss had given you the authority, you're not and he hasn't.  I recommend you embrace reality, and ease off implementing the One on Ones and feedback.

I think, if you want, you can do PMO3s with A1 and A2, but I suspect it will be hard to get A1 to agree, since he's already learned he can trump you.

PMO3s and peer feedback. 

You've learned a lot - and it will help you when you do become a manager. For now, though, you're not getting enough support from your boss to be able to do the things he might tolerate from someone who's actually a manager.



fluffy's picture

Thanks for the feedback Mark, I'll certainly take it on board. Your point is well taken and I can see how I have jumped the gun.

Re: Q2. Do you have any thoughts on my second question around what to do with respect to strengthening my relationship with A1 after a bit of a false start?

  • I should note that we generally get along okay and it certainly is not all doom and gloom (I see direct evidence of this in A1 being agreeable to PMO3s). We just got off on the wrong foot and have a natural working behavior clash that I picked up on too late.
  • On reflection, I think the source of the problem was my high D conflicting with A1's high S,C.
  • Is there anything else (apart from more patience, and toning down my D) you would suggest?

P.S. I'm not sure if this counts as "support", but my boss has agreed to put me up for one of the upcoming Manager Tools/effective communications conferences as part of my development plan. I don't know if I'll have this opportunity again, so I'm very much looking forward to it, even if I may be a little bit green =)