I have an employee who is a good performer, but does not seem to want to join in any activities that are social or team building. 

We recently had a work party, that was right outside her office and didn't participate even after their name was called to win a door prize. 

Several groups of other employees have invited her to lunch many times and she will turn them down to go out to eat on her own.

She is a very good employee at finishing complicated tasks, but I'm afraid this social awkwardness/ lack of networking will stunt their career growth potential. 

Has anyone coached someone through this or have any suggestions on getting them to understand the importance of these interactions.  Is this something you simply use role power to achieve?

TomW's picture
Training Badge

If you want to permanently ruin your relationship with this person, go right ahead and use your role power. Especially when it's something this trivial.

In the mean time, enjoy the party and leave her alone. If she doesn't want to socialze, it really is her business and not yours. Not everyone likes to soclalize with the people they work with, regardless of the effect you believe it may have on her career..

If it bothers you that much, bring it up at your next one-on-one.

thebeezer's picture
Licensee Badge

I'd recommend reviewing the feedback and DISC profile podcasts to deliver feedback in a way that resonates for your direct.  How is your relationship with her?  If you don't have one, start there.

Singers's picture

I have had a employee like thatm, high C, high D, that did not want to "waste" any time socialising with other and as said already it's their choice...

Key though is to use disc, if this really  bother you. High D, explain they will not get promoted if they are not seem to make a effort doing the relevant networking. High C, explain that data is not all, if people dont know them, they are a lot less likely to agree and trust the data they come up with, that will usually get their attention. 

Kind Regards
Mads Sorensen
Disc 4536

stephenbooth_uk's picture


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

The fact that not everyone likes to socialize is not a reason not to expect your directs to be involved in some semi-social events.  Otherwise, the fact that I don't like spreadsheets would be a reason for me not to know my budget if that's how budgets are communicated.

There is absolutely NO NEED for you to demonstrate a measurable positive impact for her attendance, nor a measurable negative impact on the performance of your team.

Your team coming together is NOT a waste.  The fact that a direct might characterize it that way is just an ugly little value judgment they ought to know better than.  They believe their time is better spent somewhere else - that may be so, but that taken a little further makes them unmanageable.

Stephen's ABSOLUTELY right that team building events don't build teams.  And, it's still reasonable to expect your directs to engage politely at events that are designed to bring people together.  As a manager, we are NOT obligated to allow everyone to do everything their way.

And, two hour weekly socials at YOUR favorite watering hole is way over-doing it.

I think the role power discussion here is a false one - you can compel anyone to do something through your role power, and there are times when I would absolutely use it around such events (though this is not one of them).  If someone I managed wanted to be promoted and behaved as this direct did, in a company where some monthly or quarterly meet and greets were encouraged, I'd deny them a promotion.  In the interest of brevity here, I would deny them based on ignorance, not on their personal predilections. 

If someone were to quit (that's the underpinning of the "leave them alone" argument, what would they say?  That their boss asked them to engage politely once a month at birthday parties, or a quarterly function?  That person deserves to find the job they love, and it's going to be not only hard, but at a company with horrible operating results over time (because managers matter at companies that perform well over time).

Invite them.  Expect them to come.  Give them negative feedback when they don't.  "When you don't join the group, it affects your ability to work with others, and with me."

Repeated behavior can have consequences, though I probably wouldn't fire them.

Merry Christmas all,



stephenbooth_uk's picture


maura's picture
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Going back to the original post, it looks like the examples given were during working hours (and lunch, which to me is borderline).  So it's not like in this case the manager is dictating how directs spend their personal time.  If regular evening meetups are part of the culture in the organization, then I'd put that in the same bucket as "occasional overtime".  It's part of the expectations at that company, and if you want to move forward at that company, you participate.

Not everybody cares about moving up through the ranks.  Some people know they're well-placed and want to stay there.  And some people are simply very introverted and highly uncomfortable in social situations.  On the one hand, it sounds like she's quite content in her isolated little world full of complicated tasks and no people.  If that's all it is, and she's doing a good job otherwise, then bring it up in your one on one.  If she changes, great, and if not, then she knows it's a career limiting trait and it's "on her".

The part that gets me, though, is that she did not participate even when you called her name to get a door prize.  I know we're supposed to focus on behavior and not the reasons for the behavior, but in this case I would want to understand WHY?  Are there religious reasons? I'd want to respect that if possible.  Or is there a morale issue behind this?  Maybe it's not shyness but her behavior toxic to the team?  If that's what's going on, you have a bigger problem. 


stephenbooth_uk's picture


jib88's picture

I would never (or rarely) attend functions, parties, celebrations, lunches or anything during work hours. I thought they were a waste of time.

That all changed when a smart manager in the group told me that I was not as successful as I could be simply because I did not attend these events. This was a very effective way of getting me to change, because I am very driven and I want to be as effective as possible. After hearing some of his reflections on the importance of relationships I started attending all these types of events.


Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

...seeing it differently Stephen. 

As I think you have indicated, you read more "non-work time" into the situation than some others of us did.  Maybe we're less far apart now, which is a good thing. :-)

You use words like "direct" (in the sense of compliance, not role), and "control", and "you won't...spend time with family, you will..have a good time," and, "censure."   I do NOT see this as a manager "trying to dictate", nor did I suggest any such dictatorial-ness (probably an awkward word choice, but somehow better than 'dictation.'" ;-)

A manager NEVER controls the actions of anyone outside of work, or AT work... but their role gives them influence on the consequences others might choose to face.  

It is not my experience that such situations as you mention in your first para are covered by contract clauses.  Contract clauses such as those are surprisingly rare, though of course your UK experience is very different in this regard than the US, and in public versus private sector organizations.

The individual situations posted in the forums in my experience require specific guidance, which inherently suggests some subtlety that doesn't respond well to your phrases, "you appear to be saying."  I spend a lot of time trying to understand what others are really saying happened (in the forums and elsewhere), and therefore try to keep my comments carefully direct and circumspect.  Thus my calling the role power discussion a red herring.

Overall, your characterization of my position was inaccurate.  I think you're completely wrong for suggesting to a manager that they must prove ANYTHING, either positive or negative.  This is a terrible idea, and is in place almost nowhere in effective organizations.  The direct who demands such (and why wouldn't a manager who believes same of their own management behaviors expect it from their boss?) would fail exceptionally quickly.

I recommended specific actions: invite, expect, and give negative feedback.  [I also suggested moderation: "two hour weekly..."]  I didn't mandate compliance, and never have that I can recall.  (The inevitability of reasonable consequences isn't a mandate, it's a choice for the direct)  I said I wouldn't fire them. 

My approach encourages what would be best for the direct in the context of the organization.  The direct is free to not engage, and share the consequences that are completely to be expected: a lack of upward mobility, and a loss of career flexibility (though neither of these are necessarily penal, simply reasonable).

Based on your most recent post, your experience is fairly narrow related to the gray areas between work and personal time.  Someone who wishes a long successful, growing career and insists on going home at 5 every day and never staying for something the boss needs (as a way of helping the team, regardless of whether it's a party or a late deliverable) is likely to have a painful choice at some point.  Most places I've been, lunch is flexible. 

I stand by my recommendations.







TheWookee's picture

Thanks all for the great insight. 

Just thought I'd follow up clear up a few of the ambiguous details and mention how I handled it.

There was a mixture of items that were during work time and some that were after.  Both events included areas of our organization that we don't regularly see, but have an impact on our work.  These events are not something that are regularly scheduled.

I spoke with them during their O3 and they hinted that they were nervous about a test (she's in grad school) and was worried that may have been a distraction.  I explained the value and importance of networking during these work functions and left it at that.   We'll see how things go in the future.


One point Maura made that may be valid  with this individual, they are new to us and the work force (finishing up Grad School).  I know when I was at that age I would not be interested in being management or moving up.  It took me a while, some growing pains, and a boss that could demonstrate the awesome power of a strong network to realize how valuable networking is (like JIB).  I'll keep working with them and trying different angles, and one day it will click. 

Thanks again and Merry Christmas!

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

... and, developing relationships, learning more about your feelow professionals, relating to people on topics not necessarily work-related, NONE of these is tied to "moving up".  This is what smart people do to be more effective NOW.