I have a high C DR who is very timid, with low self esteem, but who exhibits good productivity. My other DRs include an extremely intense high D and another extremely intense high I.

Because of some disagreements that occurred over a year ago, no one in the department speaks to the high C, and vice-versa. They perceive the C's silence as disrespectful and the high D recently publicly accused  the C (when the C was absent) of being unproductive and unprofessional.

The C, on the other hand, feels that they are being purposely shunned / ostracized by the rest of the group. No one eats lunch together anymore, and no one seems willing to break the stalemate.

I just found out about MT and delivered feedback for the first time yesterday to the high D, which I think was very effective. However, I fear it may be too late to smooth things over.

Here's the kicker - the team's productivity does not depend on them working together in any formal sense - the D, I, and C all work essentially independently, although the D has garnered collaborative support from the others, while the C has withered.

The atmosphere in the office is icy. Is there any way back, or have we gone too far?

rwwh's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Welcome to the club. Do I understand correctly that you just discovered MT, and the first thing you do is deliver corrective feedback? Corrective feedback alone is not going to get your situation improved! Please check out "rolling out the trinity" and the other manager tools basics. Better relationships between you and each of your directs will be the result, and I'm sure you will be able to leverage that into better mutual understanding.

synapsid's picture

Thanks RWWH, for your response. Yes, I just discovered MT and have listened to about 50 archived podcasts but of course I am still new to the methods. I will check out the "rolling out" podcasts, thanks for the tip. I didn't expect one instance of feedback to make a big difference, but it did feel good to use a new communication tool after basically a year of ignoring an 'elephant in the room'. I need to foster better communication between my team members if we are ever going to grow.


430jan's picture

Sorry for the discord on your team. I think that yours is a very frequent problem in management and most of us are struggling with it....if we're not ignoring it.

I guess one thing that I would infer from your comments is that the conflict in your team is going to go away if you manage the MTs way. It is going to be more effectively managed, but believe me when I say that conflict in your team and among the differing array of behavioral types is going to continue as long as people have breath in them. When you add a new person in, or take one away it will heighten for a while. I am re-listening to every podcast with the word "conflict" in it. Also the "micromanagement" part 2 podcast deals directly with how to respond to a team in conflict.

I think that I have a compassionate team, but they know when they are being reinforced for conflict instead of redirected. It is such an easy path to take as a manager because I think that we all basically want peace and quiet. If you learn it once be willing to go back and learn it again.

Lastly I would say be careful about documenting the efforts you are taking. I had one staff member leave and file a complaint with the EEOC because she said that administration was not receptive to her complaints about the "mean" people around her. She is alleging a hostile work environment.I am still sorting this one out, because Manager Tools does not have you jump at the sign of conflict, you work through feedback and one on ones. You also are not supposed to believe everything you are told. I most certainly didn't ignore her comments, but because most managers pull the offenders into a room and ream them out (and this is very bad according to the conflict podcast) and we did not do that I am having to prove that I was addressing the conflict in another way that was not visible to the employee that felt her complaints were not addressed. I don't believe that her complaints were valid but I am still in the process of learning what HR thinks of this way of doing business. (of course there is more to the story, but this is your thread!)

Good luck to you and keep listening and posting long after you think you have it all figured out.


synapsid's picture

Thanks 430 Jan. I realize now I have to roll out O3s and they will be more helpful at opening communication lines than feedback. I could see my meek DR leaving and citing a 'hostile' work environment, but I could also see the others raising a grievance that my Hi-C was being hostile to them. I would like to hear more about how you're dealing with this situation, either in this thread or elsewhere.

An added wrinkle is that some of the DRs are off-site and out of the country sometimes for 4-6 weeks at a time. Can one handle the rhythm of O3s in this situation?


dresouza's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Couple of quick thoughts

Tension in the workplace is normal.  That it turned 'icy' is not good.  It did not get there overnight.  Try not to fix it overnight.

Start by reinforcing the positive.  Most organizations do about 90% of their tasks right.  From your description, you may even be greater than that.  So you have lots to praise.  Start there.

MT has a podcast on doing 'One Nice Thing'.  Start by doing enjoyable connective things that require limited input, limited commitment, and limited time: breakfast pastry in the morning for the crew, a specific, well thought-out compliment. 

This will not necessarily fix the interaction between the C-D-I.  But here is the deal: they have to fix it themselves.  If you try to do it, it will be a mess and you will regret it.  Focus on how to build the team that will allow them to work together and then eventually get to how you will coach, then hold them accountable for their interactions with each other.

Yeah, it will take a while but what else we have to do between now and retirement?

Good luck,



synapsid's picture

 I studied the "rolling out" casts and finally rolled out o3s this week (my little diary of that is in the O3 forum here: They weren't perfect, but it was amazing how little I knew about my directs. For those involved in the stalemate, no one feels that he or she should be the one to break the ice. All are stubborn, no one feels the relationship is worth salvaging. But at least I got the o3s started and hopefully my DRs will begin to recognize my commitment to them and then start to commit to bettering the department themselves. 

jhack's picture

It can be many months for some people to begin to trust you.  Some directs are very private.  Some will share things that will will surprise you (as the once frequent poster US41 pointed out, when the topic turns to bodily fluids and medical situations, you know you've earned their trust!).  Some will keep it professional only.  

They're all different, and each becomes effective in its own way.

Patience.  and good luck!

John Hack

synapsid's picture

 6 weeks of O3s and most of my DRs say that they have been a positive addition. One said that it makes it very obvious that I care about what's going on with them. Most realize the time commitment I make is 8x any of their own.

But my High C handed in a resignation letter nonetheless. She had not spoken to anyone in the department for over a year, and they had not spoken to her. All parties felt they were being disrespected and ignored. She left for identically green pastures but said she would have been willing to take a pay cut, she was that unhappy.

I just found out about MT too late. O3s were going well, but there was just not enough time to turn things around with feedback and coaching.

I feel an urge to scold the remaining members and tell them their childishness caused us to lose an important part of our team. I want to tell them I'm ashamed of their behavior like my dad used to yell at me and my brother for fighting. I know I can't do this. I haven't even introduced the feedback model. Not sure exactly what to do; this is all very very discouraging. I'm disgusted with my team and myself, and I almost want to discontinue O3s. Any ideas?

bug_girl's picture

Feel good that you tried!  As someone who walked into a situation with decades of bad team behavior as a history, I understand that there is only so much you can do sometimes. 

I'll let others more experienced deal with the "what to do now" question. But I will ask: when your dad yelled at you, did it make you and your brother permanently stop fighting? I'm betting....not.


jhbchina's picture

I recommended this book, it has at least three actionable items, and is very practicable.

Fish! A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results
by Stephen C. Lundin, Harry Paul, John Christensen, Ken Blanchard

Comment: "If you are a fan of books like "Who Moved My Cheese", "Whale Done" and similar books written by Ken Blanchard's group, you will like "Fish".

Within one hour you can read this simple tale that will give you some ideas of how to get more energy and improve motivation from your team and organization. None of these principles are new, they are just arranged in an interesting story that makes it easier for one to understand.

The four key points of Fish are
1) Choose your Attitude
2) Play - Make it Fun
3) Be Present
4) Make Their Day"

JHB  "00"

synapsid's picture

Thanks BugGirl and JHB. Yes, I know conflict will never fully disappear, but I guess this instance is particularly troubling because it didn't have to lead to someone resigning. It's tough remaining motivated myself to try to motivate these folks! It's like all the motivation for the whole team has to come from me. I read "who moved my cheese"; I guess I need to move on to fish and other protein-rich metaphors ;-) 

synapsid's picture

The High C is finally leaving next week. I was listening to the "How to Manage an Arrogant Producer" cast and I couldn't believe how relevant it was. My irascible High D has been rude and abusive for over a year and shows no signs of stopping. My reliable high C is leaving because of the jerk, and because of the bigger jerk (me) who did nothing about it. The D will be on an offsite assignment for the next three weeks but when the whole team is back, I plan to roll out feedback. It will be so hard to give positive feedback to this jerk first. It's already really hard to stomach the negative results that he's had on other members of our team. He singlehandedly tore down the team and I let it happen. But when it's time for negative, hopefully he will get the point - there are so many behaviors that make him a jerk! He interrupts. He never says thank you, just "yep". He demands instead of asking. He huffs and says, "Let's get this done with" about our meetings, even when they are on time. He shows up late for meetings. Those are some of the behaviors, but they indicate he clearly thinks he's more important than anyone else on the team, or indeed the whole team. Meanwhile I'm trying to wrangle my own career, wondering if I can get promoted away from having to deal with this jerk!