One of my directs is unhappy with a new meeting rule that is no eating unless it's an hour meeting.  He was eating full meals not just chips, cookies, etc.  but this would apply to everything unless it's a special occasion or a lunch meeting. 

He launched into telling me that I was discriminating against him.  I asked if there is a medical issue and that he could work with HR and I'd make an exception.  After about 10 minutes of complaining, I told him the rule stands and I'll enforce it .  I'll make sure a meetings more than an hour have breaks so everyone can do what they need and I didn't have anything else to say.  He made a comment as he walked out that if this was the way I was going to let things go he was going to point out everything that everyone else does that he objects to and I have to stop those too.  I told him that I encourage him to bring up any disruptive behaviors on the team and we'd work through them.

I have two questions. 

Question 1:  First, should I even give feedback on this threat?  Or should I just put it down to him blowing off steam?  In my mind, this was a pretty childish statement.  I could give feedback on this threat and how I would view it.


"Can I give you some feedback"

"When you make a threaten to do something in response to a rule you don't like, it makes me think that you are not thinking about the best interest of the group over your personal needs.  I wonder if you are trying to intimidate me into changing my mind over fear of what you will do.  That leads me to question your professionalism.  It also erodes my trust in you.  Carrying out the threat would waste team time and cause the team to function badly."

"What can you do differently?"

Question 2:  How does this feedback work if I wait until he actually does something.

"Can I give you some feedback"

"When you make a comment on something someone else is doing and cannot give justification as to why it affects your or the team performance, the following happens.  It creates unease and tension on the team which slows down work.  It takes time away from our discussion on more important matters.  It makes me think that you are not thinking about the best interest of the group over your personal needs.  I wonder if you were really affected by this or just seeking retribution rules you didn't agree with.  That leads me to question your professionalism."

"What can you do differently?"



430jan's picture

What a pain. I would let it go for now. If he follows through complaining about others then I would give him feedback at that time. You're the boss and and he knows it.



scm2423's picture
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I am constantly telling my kids not to worry about what the other one is doing and focus on their own behavoir.  They can only control their behavoir.  Sounds like your direct needs the same advice.  Maybe it will work better then it does with a 10 year old, 7 year old and a 2 year old!

RichRuh's picture
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Is this the first time this direct has reacted like this?

If yes, he's having a bad day and blowing off steam.  Let it go.

If no, and regularly reacts to bad news this way, you MUST give feedback.  It will be uncomfortable, but if you don't do it, he'll do it again.  And again.  And again.

jhbchina's picture

Two things here - One is Impact. As I recall you don't have to give feedback all the time, especially if the impact is minimum. So wait till he does it again, or he follow through on the threat. Then fire a SATB, a real close one.

As for threats, when someone makes a threat I always share what I learned from "Getting to Yes" or was it "Getting Past No".

A threat is useless for it allows the threatened to plan a counter before the threat takes place. So now you can plan to counter his actions. You can call a quick meeting, and tell everyone.

Hi team, I need your input, do you feel my no eating rule in our meetings is discriminating. I they are ok with it, then say that one team member (no names) thinks I am discriminating against them (for sure this DR has talked about it to others). This person also informed me that "he was going to point out everything that everyone else does that he objects to and I have to stop those too."

So I want everyone to be careful about what you do, since one of your team members might just whine to me about it. I promise to handle each incident on a case by case basis. You all can count on me to be fair and give the proper feedback to each of you.

This puts your DR thinking now what. And the team knows to watch out for a snitch.

What do others think? Is this firing a SATB to close?



terrih's picture

That's not a SATB - that's just passive-agressive, in my opinion.