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Hello!

I have an employee who I need assistance with. He has reported to me for almost a year now. He's smart, and he get's his work done but I struggle with him sometime because from my perspective he let's his frustrations get the best of him.

We've all been confused or not felt we are on the same page and we all deal with that differently but he deals with that by shutting down and being short.

Today we met with our vendor to discuss something that was throwing us all for a loop. I walked away not completely 100% understanding but I walked away with a better grasp on it. He tells me "I'm more confused then ever." We walk out of the room we stand there with my boss and another analyst and we stand there - my plan was that we'd clear the air right then and there. But my boss changes the subject for just two minutes. During that time - my employee just shrugs his shoulders - says "Whatever" under his breath - walks away and throws his notebook on his desk - walks away...

Clearly he needed some space so I Will address his frustrations tomorrow during his 1:1 and hopefully clear his confusion. But this is pretty consistent behavior and I think there is a more profession route to handle this.

Any thoughts?

timrutter's picture

How far have you got with feedback Faye?

Faye1920's picture

I have provided this feedback before. Calling out mostly tone of voice and how he can re-frame his answers to still express frustration but also make it helpful. There was a podcast that me and my team listened to on here about how to say "no" and it was helpful but he goes through these moods. And sometimes I think maybe I'm just ultra sensitive - I am a high S - so maybe its just very offputting to me because...well I'm me. So sometimes I fear I'm being too hard or too...easy...

timrutter's picture

OK, this is good.

My guess is that it's more likely that you're too easy rather than too hard. This may be time to start looking at employing Systemic Feedback. The podcast is here:

https://www.manager-tools.com/2009/04/systemic-feedback

The other tool is the late stage coaching model if that doesn't have the desired results:

https://www.manager-tools.com/2006/03/the-late-and-early-stage-coaching-...

The thing that really got my alarm bells ringing was:

"....my employee just shrugs his shoulders - says "Whatever" under his breath - walks away and throws his notebook on his desk - walks away...."

This is bad and cannot go unaddressed whatever his motivations and frustrations are.

uwavegeek's picture
Licensee Badge

I also have folks that perform yet tend to have a behavior that is less than desireable.   Rather than put it in the feedback section initially, as their work is good, i tend to put this itno the coaching section first as an icebreaker.   For example, if he's smart and gets his work done, he may well be thinking of promotion/advancement etc.   Frame it such that he's doing great yet he is held back by his inability to handle frustrations in a professional manner.   Provide the examples and say how you want to help him out and give him notice that you'll be providing feedback on this in the future.   Again framed in a way that you're helping him get to the next level.  If you set it up this way, its easier to say with a smile in my opinion.  I've used this sucessfully.

 

Good luck, hope that helps.

All the best,

Neil

chadhassler's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Completely agree with timrutter: 

"....my employee just shrugs his shoulders - says "Whatever" under his breath - walks away and throws his notebook on his desk - walks away...."

That's not something you want to keep happening. I can offer an experience I've had with one of my directs.

This particular direct would wear her feelings on her sleeves. If she was stressed in any way, she'd make sure everyone around her knew it. This made it difficult as we work in IT Operations - like a lot of work, ours is stressful at times. My first few MONTHS of O3's were challenging (I am apparently very patient - like you perhaps). I spent my time really trying to get to know her and I spoke candidly about me and what I was looking for. Finally, after a particularly harrowing display of "stressing out" in front of the team, I said something like this (Mark has probably said this 1000 times):

"You're allowed to feel however you want to feel in your head AND you are not allowed to show it to anyone on the team. If you need to come into my office and have a breakdown, I'd prefer that to a public display of frustration."

I followed that with many reasons why public displays of frustration/anger are a bad thing - many of those reasons resonated with her desire to be seen as a credible member of the team (she was new to IT). 

Fast forward a year, she's MUCH better about handling her emotions. 

- Chad

SeaGal2015's picture

Chad has great advice: you have to be persistent and clear on expectations. Being a High S just challenges you to be firm but in your own voice, in a way that you feel comfortable doing. Nonetheless, be firm.

I have someone on my project team who reacts this way. He's my coworker's direct - I am not a people manager and am new to my position - but this guy's been a handful for the three months we've had him so far. He's got a huge chip on his shoulder (used to be a pro athlete and had lots of praise/attention; now he's low man on the totem pole at an international marketing firm), and is quick to snap, shut down others' ideas and get openly snarky about executive management decisions in meetings.

After a particularly difficult meeting in which he openly challenged one of my decisions as project manager and huffed out, I got permission from his manager to do some coaching. I used the book Crucial Conversations, and "started with heart." It seemed to go well until he reacted similairly the next week to another manager in another meeting, who was understandably *not* as keen to coach. His (brand-new) manager still refuses to put him on an action plan, but my hope is that with more coaching, he will someday understand that he has to keep his emotions in check. 

I'm keeping this quote from Chad: "You're allowed to feel however you want to feel in your head AND you are not allowed to show it to anyone on the team. If you need to come into my office and have a breakdown, I'd prefer that to a public display of frustration."

I've always followed MT and CT avidly; interestingly it wasn't until this recent challenge/coaching session that I've finally begun seriously considering becoming a people manager. It's been hard for me to bite my tongue as his very green manager struggles to figure out how to deal with him (and yes, I forwarded him the MT link a while back after we chatted about it!). Good advice, all - and good question, OP!