Any suggestions for how to help set metrics for interpersonal skills for a direct who is an extreme high C and is unaware of how she communicate and relates to others?

I Transitioned to a new role with a new company. My boss turned over management responsibilities of part of his team to me which includes a high C direct who has a track record of having problematic interpersonal skills with people in the company. Introduced her briefly to the MT trinity today. She is aware of the problem, seems at least willing to put in some effort to change if she knew how we were keeping score and could check in on the score periodically. Told her I would help develop or provide ideas for definable metrics for interpersonal skills. But Right now I am also at a loss!

ashdenver's picture

C's are all about compliance and attention to detail. To start with, I'd probably try to encourage her to "throw caution to the wind" on a regular basis - ask a question to which she does not already know the answer, reply to an email with "I don't know the answer to that" or "If memory serves, I think it was ..." without fact-checking the entire history of the universe first. When someone is deeply and firmly entrenched in a specific type, it's usually to the detriment of the other types.  Being super-high C means there's probably little room for the animated, open, social aspects we'd see with a high I - maybe encourage things along that line as well. If your team already has regular meetings, maybe there's an opportunity for her to engage in smaller groups in a more relaxed setting and be persuasive about something she's passionate about - not necessarily a business-related thing; it could be adopting a dog, being a Big Brother/Big Sister, access to fresh water in developing countries, etc.

C's are thinkers and I's are social butterflies that are much more fluid, congenial, able to do small talk, blow smoke, have a superficial encounter - maybe partner her up with an I ... how would High I handle this email? How would High I respond to that question? She can still use her C traits (observation, analyzing) to better develop some of the opposite traits. When I look at the synopsis of a C, the literature says to expect a lot of questions about the details.

Maybe the two of you in your O3's you provide a simple statement or concept with minimal or no details and help her work past the desire to get ALL of the details. This would be something about which she would be aware and a willing participant.  "Sheila, in an effort to help you get more comfortable with fewer details, in our O3's I will periodically share a concept or idea with few or no details. First, we'll focus on what your gut instinct would be - just tell me what you would want to know or ask. Then, we'll work on accepting it as it is without the drive to dig in deep to thoroughly explore and understand it. We may even find you a mentor who is the polar opposite of your style to show you the extreme difference which can help you find a more moderate middle-ground."

I don't know that a scorecard will: A.) work, or B.) be helpful. A baseball scorecard shows the detail of the game - what happened in which inning - and that's pretty much the opposite of where you want her to be. If she really wants one, have her do it, not you. She will see that quantifying personality is much less black-and-white which is exactly the point. She wants black-and-white as a High C; to counteract that in certain areas such as interpersonal communications she needs to get comfortable in the grey.

Just some random thoughts ...

Andrew J Baer's picture


First, suggestions on metrics:

1) Number of smiles with eye contact received per conversation - if your direct thinks that she's being personable and pleasant, then those that she interacts with should be giving her smiles with direct eye contact.  You can go beyond this with other body posture cues.  

2) Number of times somebody seeks her out for conversation - you can be more exact in what type of conversation (being asked technical questions wouldnt' count, for instance), but this is a good indicator she's building relationships. 

As a further course of action, specify points where she must interact and keep contact information with others as part of her assignment IE use her to form personal relationships that benefit the team/company and, in turn, she'll learn from this.

Now, another thought - I am a very high C in a very people oriented job, and it's my personal belief that metrics should only be the training wheels for her.  Get really specific on how body gestures and words (MT's regular point about never saying "but" is a good example) make a big difference. This is how you get buy in.  The ultimate goal though, should be to find at enjoyment in relationships.  Now, what aspects she finds joy in might be very different from a high I, but even the most technical C can find some form of relationships that they can enjoy.  Framing that in a way that makes sense for her will be the ultimate thing you can do.  


Andrew Baer


williamelledgepe's picture
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I logged onto MT this afternoon to ask this same question.  I have a possible answer below, but I also have the question: Are we better served simply providing feedback such as, "When you interrupt your staff they will not be as productive producing the drawings and specs."

That said, since I am also trying to determine how to measure this - What do y'all think about the following list of possible metrics:

  • # of times per conversation you smile
  • # of times per conversation you use a persons's name
  • # of times per day you discuss a topic of interest to someone else
  • # of times per conversation you say "I"
  • # of times per conversation you say "but"
  • # of times per day someone else discusses something personal to them
  • # of times per day you encouraged someone to talk about themselves
  • # of times per conversation you "restate" the persons previous statement to confirm understanding
  • # of times per day that you substituted "your word" for "their word"

I am concerned the above metrics are difficult to track, but can think of no other metrics for "not being a jerk."  I have found metrics based on information automatically collected are more sustainable.  None of the above metrics can be automatically collected.  The above metrics also suffer from perception and results would vary depending on which party to a conversation you ask.  Still, if collected consistently, trends should be observable.  I am concerned, though, the above list would falter after a couple weeks.  

At the risk of crossing into 360 degree feedback, I am interested in what the community thinks about conducting a poll of the following questions and tracking improvement over the course of time.  These questions would be asked of peers, directs, and skips.  Fred/Fannie below represents the person needing to improve interpersonal skills and "you" is the peer, direct, skip, etc.  

  • How long have you worked for Fred/Mary? (less than 1 year, 1-3 years, more than 3 years)
  • Does Fred/Mary take a genuine interest in you (yes/no/unsure)
  • Does Fred/Mary understand your opinion (scale 1-5)
  • Does Fred/Mary listen to you when you speak (scale 1-5)
  • Does Fred/Mary value your input (scale 1-5)
  • Does Fred/Mary know what is of interest to you personally (scale 1-5; with option for "I prefer not discuss personal interests at work")
  • How often does Fred/Mary agree with you (never, ocassionally, often, always)
  • How often does Fred/Mary override you (never, ocassionally, often, always)

I am particularly interested what the MT community thinks about this idea of a poll.  It is something that can more readily be tracked over time.  I know the flaw in 360 degree feedback, as described by Mark, and agree - but this poll still seems like it could provide actionable information.  Specifically, Fred, the work you have been doing over the past 3 months have shown an imporvement based on these poll results.