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I re-listened to the conflict cast but the situation I have is slightly different... I have a DR who got upset twice last week at other DRs -- but she popped off at ME, not at them.

She spontaneously apologized for the first time. Hasn't so far for the 2nd time. In the 2nd instance, it's something she has expressed frustration about several times and apparently I am not correcting the other DR's behavior as quickly as she'd like. (the person in the next cube is on the phone a lot)

O2 tomorrow. Suggestions? (and yes, she is a good performer)

lazerus's picture

I had almost this exact situation a few months ago. The feedback I gave to DR #1 was "complaining about coworkers can be more damaging to the team than the behavior you're complaining about." To DR #2 the feedback was "when you don't do X, it disrupts the work, our dept. looks bad, no raises will be given," etc.

DR #2 adjusted their behavior, DR #1 found something else to complain about and eventually quit. In your case, I think it's important to remember that you're the boss, phone conversations can be annoying to cube-mates, but you get to deal with it in your own time as you don't answer to your DRs.

Hope this helps.

jhack's picture

First, better she comes to you than goes after them.

Second, is the other person's being on the phone in her cube acceptable and effective behavior? Do you need to address this separately, or is this a call center?

Third, could you provide feedback (or even coaching) on more effective ways for DR#1 to bring issues to you? (ie, raise them in the context of team performance rather than individual annoyance). Top performers should appreciate this kind of feedback.

John

terrih's picture

Lazerus, thanks for the examples of feedback, it DOES help!

John-
1--true!
2--I have given feedback on the phone usage, but I'm not surprised I can't change in one minute something the previous supervisor tolerated for 7 years. :?
3--Mmm, maybe something more along the lines of being patient after bringing something to my attention, because she DID bring it to my attention in a calmer way before. Good point about team performance vs. individual annoyance.

Thanks guys!

bflynn's picture

Terri, it might help some to think of the complaint in other terms. It is a symptom of frustration that this person feels at having to carry the whole load (a high-D perhaps).

You might try positive feedback too -

When you work so hard at doing your job right, I'm really impressed. I see better things in your future, better jobs coming your way and more success at this company.

In other words - refocus her attention away from the phone talker, onto how much better she is doing work and how much more she will get from it. Each time she hears phone talking doing her thing, she is going to be reminded that her contributions are more highly valued and probably work harder.

Brian

ashdenver's picture

Having been the person who "went off" to the boss about fellow employees on the team, my recommendation is to remain calm and simply allow (if time permits or if you're willing) the person to finish their venting without interruption and wrap it up with "Are you just venting or do you need something else from me?"

If the venting becomes a consistent issue where it's taking up your time, draining your emotional reserves or is just plain annoying, counsel them that such venting is not productive for either of you, that coming up with solutions is much more effective and that you'd be happy to give the person time to review suggestions/plans for improvement in the future.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. If you've always got a problem with everyone (the other DRs, me for not acting quickly) perhaps it might be a non-work-related issue that could be addressed (a new job, a different company, psychotherapy, etc.)

*two cents*

WillDuke's picture

[quote]Having been the person who "went off" to the boss about fellow employees on the team, my recommendation is to remain calm and simply allow (if time permits or if you're willing) the person to finish their venting without interruption and wrap it up with "Are you just venting or do you need something else from me?" [/quote]
Wow, if someone said that to me I'd lose my stuffing! :) I guess that just points out again to know your target. A high D might appreciate it, an S would be insulted.

[quote]You might try positive feedback too -
When you work so hard at doing your job right, I'm really impressed. I see better things in your future, better jobs coming your way and more success at this company.[/quote]
I disagree. I wouldn't give positive feedback to behavior I didn't want to encourage. I'm not that smart, they're not that dumb. I'm not going to try to manipulate them.

You have to spend the time it takes to figure out what is really bothering you about this person popping off on you. Then, with that clearly in mind, give them feedback. "When you pop off on me...." You don't need to be clever. You don't need to be manipulative. You need to be honest and accurate.

For me, the issue would be that this direct is overstepping her bounds. She's not the manager. She brought the issue to your attention, and thank you. Now she should focus on doing her job.

"Sue, can I give you some feedback?"
"Yes."
"When you come into my office and blow up at me about something you have already made me aware of it makes me think you're too focused on what everyone else is doing. I'm concerned that you don't have enough focus on what you need to be doing. What do you think you could do differently?"

That's my take on it.

ashdenver's picture

I've found that many folks who vent (or blow up) are people who just need to let it out and don't actually expect any action to be taken. If they keep it in, it's a distraction for them. By speaking about it to someone, it becomes external and therefore no longer an internal distraction.

The fact that DR#1 apologized immediately leads me to believe this person is one such venter. "Sorry, I need to get this out so I can go back to what I was doing."

It has been my experience that people who are venters know they're venters and as such, they recognize "this was just a vent" as soon as it's posed to them in that manner.

I would think that folks who are in the S range are, as the S implies, more steady and less prone to blowing up in the first place. Likewise, it would stand to reason that a high C, or conscientious, are more diplomatic and less likely to vent in general. Those high on the I spectrum are generally drawn to influencing or persuading someone else into seeing their side of things rather than engaging in "verbal vomit" in the heat of a moment. Those of us D's are interested in getting immediate results. A vent or blow up has the immediate result of externalizing an internal distraction.

So yeah, I'd bet money (maybe only $10) that DR#1 is a high D. :wink:

And with high D's, we/they certainly appreciate the occasional shock (or as I've been calling it for years, "the bitchslap with love.")

I really believe that the best thing a manager can do for a D venter is to regularly redirect their explosive energy into positive action. "Identifying the problem is a great first step. What do you think should happen next? How would you fix it? What would you like to see happen?"

Consistent reinforcement designed to get them to think about possible solutions can result in a very highly motivated, productive employee. Allowing the random bitch-fest to continue without halting the behaviour will (IMO) ultimately result in a slow but wide-spread Negative Nelly Syndrome spreading throughout the team.

As someone else said, it's great that DR#1 is going to the manager to vent but if those things aren't redirected into something positive & helpful and/or DR#1 doesn't perceive anything positive resulting from going to the manager, the blow ups will begin to occur with other employees. The last thing any manager would want would be a group of cranky employees who blow up constantly! The morale of the team and the team itself can disintegrate in no time once that negative pall overshadows the work day.

WillDuke's picture

Ash - So now I'm confused. You say some people need to vent. But if people vent then you end up with negative Nelly syndrome. I'm unclear on the message.

I certainly agree that blowing up at work doesn't do anyone any good. I would be okay with the scenario you describe of someone coming to the boss and asking permission to vent on an issue. I think that's healthy, in moderation.

I also agree that people who vent at work are more likely D personality, though we can all get frustrated.

But Teri indicated this person "popped off." I'm assuming that popping off is not asking permission, but coming into Teri's space and throwing a fit about how this 3rd person doesn't do their work and Teri's not doing anything about it. That scenario would need to be halted immediately.

Ahh, the beauty of creating complicated discussions and theories around incomplete information. :)

Teri - is any of this helping?

ashdenver's picture

If people vent and do nothing productive about it, one ends up with Negative Nelly Syndrome.

If people vent and put that energy into finding solutions that benefit themselves, the team, the company, good things abound.

Some people will vent without asking permission (popping off, blowing up) and how that's handled is (IMO) based on many factors such as current circumstances, past actions, immediate and long-term goals.

Given what Terri has shared thus far, I would posit that DR#1 is distracted by DR#2's constant (personal?) phone calls. The distraction level hasn't abated despite more than one 'discussion' (vent, blow up, pop off) with Terri. Now there is the added distraction and frustration that Terri isn't listening to DR#1, isn't taking DR#1 seriously, doesn't care about DR#1, favors DR#2, etc. The frustration is building for DR#1 and I agree that it needs to be addressed.

My suggestions are to, as Terri alluded in the title, deflect the energy back to DR#1. What can DR#1 do to improve the situation? What would DR#1 like to see happen? How can DR#1 find equilibrium in the face of DR#2's constant phone calls?

Send it back. If DR#1 isn't interested in putting in the effort & energy to figure out ways to improve her own situation, I would think at that point DR#1 would have made it clear that she just wants to vent.

Allowing venting-without-productivity is a death-knell and needs to be quashed (IMO, of course.)

Redirecting the venting toward productivity can result in a hugely successful DR.

The first few "send it back" attempts may indeed result in "no, I'm just venting" but the consistency of message ("You are responsible for some of this, so what do you want to do about it?") will reinforce the message to DR#1 that she has more control over the situation than she initially realized, that she has power to make changes -- maybe not over Terri's action or timeline, definitely not over DR#2's constant calls but how DR#1 responds to those things. Maybe the third or fourth deflection will make the message hit home and behaviour will improve dramatically. (I've seen it happen dozens of times.)

D's, after all, seek power and authority. They want immediate results and they enjoy solving problems. Most D's actively seek opportunities for advancement. Sending it back, with consistency of message (that venting-without-productivity is not cool, that the venting-energy could be better used to solve the problems) will give D's essentially all of the above AND will allow Terri to retain her C-diplomacy and honor the subtle & indirect approach to dealing with conflict. She doesn't have to mediate between #1 and #2 if she can get #1 to channel that energy into productive avenues.

bflynn's picture

[quote="WillDuke"]For me, the issue would be that this direct is overstepping her bounds. She's not the manager. She brought the issue to your attention, and thank you. Now she should focus on doing her job.
[/quote]

If I were to get that from my boss, I would hear "Shut up, quit bothering me and get back to work." I know that is not what you meant - which is why I mention it.

I think my previous example has merit - you're not manipulating them. What you say is true. A person who doesn't complain is more valuable and a person is produces results and doesn't complain is much, much more valuable.

There is nothing manipulative with pointing that out. Whether it works or not depends on the person....

Brian

WillDuke's picture

[quote]WillDuke wrote:
For me, the issue would be that this direct is overstepping her bounds. She's not the manager. She brought the issue to your attention, and thank you. Now she should focus on doing her job.

If I were to get that from my boss, I would hear "Shut up, quit bothering me and get back to work." I know that is not what you meant - which is why I mention it. [/quote]
Brian, I agree. I wouldn't say that to the direct, that's just my thought process. And your interpretation is pretty much what I would be thinking. :) What I would say is in quotes lower in the post.[quote]"Sue, can I give you some feedback?"
"Yes."
"When you come into my office and blow up at me about something you have already made me aware of it makes me think you're too focused on what everyone else is doing. I'm concerned that you don't have enough focus on what you need to be doing. What do you think you could do differently?" [/quote]
Of course, the feedback might be altered by the personality type of the direct, but given the situation that's my read on the "popping off" employee.

terrih's picture

Oh my goodness. Now there's a LOT of food for thought. Allow me to process and I'll come back.

(I've not really been successful yet at figuring out other people's DiSC profiles... if you guys are right and DR#1 IS a high D, that makes it interesting. She has been a manager in the past and the stress got to her so bad a neurologist told her to quit, and she took a year off and never wants to be a manager again)

WillDuke's picture

[quote]She has been a manager in the past and the stress got to her so bad a neurologist told her to quit, and she took a year off and never wants to be a manager again[/quote]
Apparently that's not going to stop her from "helping" you. :)

I think knowing she used to be a manager explains a lot; especially if she's a high D. Now the questions is, how do you get her to stop second-guessing you? I think I'd still go for the feedback I posted earlier.

I am also working to better identify people's profiles.
* Maybe another run through the DiSC podcasts would help you out.
* M&M have that great summary sheet that helps a lot.
* Heck, have your people take the test, that's what I'm going to do. I'm not sure what M&M can recommend, but I think [url]www.onlinedisc.com[/url] is supposed to be good.

ashdenver's picture

I have the original workbook from when I took the official DiSC profile for my employer on 07-25-03. The "General Highlights" page is phenomenal at encapsulating the high points of each of the traits. I have it in PDF format if anyone would like me to email it to them. It's a really handy, at-a-glance chart that gives a quick snapshot.

terrih's picture

Oh right, I have that too. I'll have a closer look! :D