Any advice on effective feedback to a High D High C direct that consistently doesn't offer deadlines when I ask how long something will take and consistently avoids answering questions like "Do we agree that you'll have this done by Friday and 1pm and you'll send an e-mail as your deliverable?"   

I admit that I have failed at my job to set the deadline anyway and I've enabled this direct to continue in his behavior for several months.  I need to remedy my own behavior. With my other directs, we work out (yeah, I'm a High S High C) a realistic deadline since I have no clue how long it should take (he's a programmer).  When I try and get input from this direct I get a lot of "it's more complicated then that..." or "the question is really..." or "it shouldn't take long" or "it's my top priority". Oh, and then there's the classic "Well..." when I ask for him to agree to a deadline I randomly select.

lindge's picture
Training Badge

I would suggest going over the podcast series on DISC and the podcast Improve Your Feedback with DISC ( Offers good advice on tailoring feedback to folks using DISC.

Separately though - you have directs whose work you mention you have 'no clue how long it should take' to complete? Definitely worth getting closer to the activities/tasks required to complete the work.  This will help with the conversations with your directs about deadlines, to challenge some of the things being said, and to arrive at acceptable deadlines.

As a side note, I'm close to the High D/High C (not a programmer...!) and what works with me is if I'm asked to set my own deadline (my manager will let me know if it's too far out given higher up priorities).  Then I report on my progress as required, and make sure I meet the deadline, and my manager will say something to me if I don't.  Maybe rather than randomly setting a deadline as you mention, worth trying something along these lines with him...?


twinsen's picture
Licensee Badge

I know this is not feedback but I had the same problems you did.  Some of the things I did...

My whole team couldn't give an estimate to save their job when I first started.  I put them on different paths including coaching (we have an online course offered by our HR on project management, estimating models, etc).  I also looked at what other teams in the corporation were using and I found an easy to use spreadsheet model where you plug in "1 table, 2 modules" and it spits out a high level estimate. The other thing I did was during after action reviews, I measured time versus original baseline so we know how far we were off in the original estimates.  It allowed us to examine, did we underestimate for programming - if so, why?  What happened?  Will it happen again? 

All these things helped them develop a sense of how long it takes for them to complete a task.  I find sometimes my team now re-use old project plans as templates for new work. 

Finally, in the team meeting, we have a work tracking system (issue tracking) and I ask all work be logged there with 3 statuses (Open, Test, Closed) and a report that classifies Open as red, Test as yellow and Closed as green.  So every week, we go over what work items you have, which ones are red, yellow or green (very American I know).

It took a long time, but all my high performers are usually spot on within 80-90% of the estimate.  If they fall off the wagon, I just go with the "When you don't meet deadlines, this is what happens", to nudge them back on track.