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I have a high, high C lady working in my group. She has been with the company 10 + years and knows her stuff like the back of her hand. The problem is that her written communication style is hard to understand. She essentially writes in the way she talks which is very "hyper-text" ish...jumps from one point to another, sometimes in the same sentence.

Bottom line is that people have a very difficult time understanding what she saying in written communication. It affects how she is perceived within the company - not that anyone questions her ability, they just tend to ignore her when they don't understand what she is saying. Which is bad because she does have good contributions to make. Also, she does not take criticism/feedback well, she takes it very personally.

Does anyone have suggestions on how to tactfully approach her on this topic? I currently do monthly o3s with her, and I also have an annual performance review coming up in the next couple of weeks. I should also mention that she just started reporting to me last Nov.

Thanks!

regas14's picture

I suggest that you be professional, unemotional and direct.

Highlight the fact that you depend on her and her knowledge. You could say something like,

"Jan, can I give you some feedback? I know that you maintain a high standard of knowledge for yourself and make great efforts to consistently know your stuff. When you publish a message like this project update for example, I'm concerned that some people aren't able to recognize the value of your knowledge through a cluttered message. The result of that is we lose the benefit of your knowledge and our results suffer due to the fact that people hesitate to ask you questions and seek your input. What can you do differently to improve upon your written communication?"

If she is unsure or asks you what she can do, you could then suggest the coaching model. There are plenty of resources on effective business writing which you could suggest and establish a time-line for improvement.

Feedback, coaching & one-on-ones.

Mark's picture

Feedback and coaching.

She works for you? Why are we talking about being tactful, unless you worry that you are going to attack her personally (which feedback does not do) or yell or something else egregious?

If your use of tactful is to suggest that you want a way to avoid an emotional response from her, well, you can't really predict that, and it's not a reason not to do your job, anyway.

Give her feedback on specific text you found difficult. Make a point to point out both good and bad in the future. Offer to coach her.

Simple!

It's a privilege to serve you.

Mark

pneuhardt's picture

I can't believe Mark missed this one. Well, he's crazy busy, so maybe I can.

I noticed you said you had monthly O3s with this report. If at all possible (and I'm sure it can be made possible) make them weekly. It can help with this as well as with any other issues that come up.

Mark's picture

Paul-

Well caught!

I don't read "monthly O3s". It sounds like Tuesday before Monday.

Mark

sambahat's picture

I have to admit, I'm a high C and have had difficulty communicating. I'm a relatively new manager and have only recognized recently how much of a weakness this is for me. My manager, however, tried coaching me but she beat around the bush too much. She almost grabbed me by the shoulders one day and finally laid the truth on me.

Please, be direct to your high-C. It would have helped me if my manager had been more direct with me early on.

Now... any suggestions or pointers from those who have overcome this serious flaw?

jprlopez's picture

Hi dolphin,
All the advice has been excellent, here's a few more thoughts....

Having a high C element myself, try approaching it from an objective almost scientific standpoint. More data, the better. Read up on the C special podcast.
Make her aware that it is not criticizing but helping her improve, if it is any help, High C's tend to also have a perfectionist streak and would welcome this.

Hi sambahat,
knowledge and acceptance of it is good start. It has been useful for me in the past to have my communication reviewed by someone I respect and who is known as a good communicator. Slowly, I've been able to develop this skill. Also try reading Barbara Minto's book (Pyramid Principle), its in the fave books section to give you more ideas.

kklogic's picture

If she's a high C, what about giving her a formula she can use -- such as "did you answer who, what, when, where and why in the first paragraph"? I would think that a C would enjoy this kind of "routine" applied to their communication.

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies). 

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies). 

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies). 

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies). 

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies). 

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies). 

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies). 

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies). 

drtethomas's picture

 I am a manager and a high D and do the trinity model with my 4 directs. One of them has been managing to miss, forget and generally avoid our weekly one on ones. What is the best way to give feedback? My high D self wants to barge into his office and confront him...I mean give feedback (hard to control my D tendencies).