I'm hoping for feedback on how to better supervise one of the 3 people who report to me.

I am a High I on the DISC, and ENFP/J on the MBTI, a very big-picture thinker who is outgoing, a quick thinker, and enjoys coming up with new ideas. On the downside, I am often too empathetic and not assertive enough. I can be impulsive, overly emotional/anxious, and too easily persuaded. I work extremely quickly and have a lot of energy to get things done. At my worst, I don't have enough self-awareness, and realize that someone else has frustrated me, only after I've snapped at them. 

One of my directs is most likely a high D with a lot of Conscientiousness. She is really a solid right-hand person, and is a good counterbalance for me in that she is very practical and detail-oriented, and focuses on quality where I focus on quantity. However, she has a *lot* of strongly-held opinions and often states them, publicly, and in a very decisive manner, typically about how some process or procedure or office operations "should" be done. The way she states these things is very assertive, even aggressive, and I find myself becoming annoyed that she feels she needs to question why we do every little thing in the unit, and seems to think she deserves an explanation or justification about why they should be that way. She has also been open about telling me (confidentially) that she doesn't think I'm holding other staff to the same standards; giving me tons of feedback on my management style (in a way that is helpful and not insubordinate, but just a *lot* of feedback). 

I find myself doing a knee-jerk agreement with her forceful suggestions, then realizing later that I didn't actually agree with her, then finding myself becoming really annoyed with her. I have given her feedback that I would prefer that she take a softer and less agressive tone with me, and it's helped for a little while, but only for a while. 

It's not the worst situation, but I am becoming frustrated that she feels entitled to question every policy or procedure or say that things need to be done a different way than they are. When I disagree with her, she can become emotional and even sarcastic, which is really not something I feel I should put up with. 

What I think I need is a "script" I can use to help her see that I'm taking her suggestions into consideration but I have my reasons not to always change things to "her" way.

I also need help figuring out how to give feedback on nonverbal communication which I perceive as sarcastic (not quite insubordinate, but just unpleasant). 

Any suggestions?

Chris Zeller's picture
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Hi Purp,

I'm right there with you. Also a High I with similar (ESFP) preferences in the MBTI world. This response is wordy and I've tried to address each point that you've brought up.

In the past, I've had success encouraging the postive intent while re-framing the behavior. Strongly held and publicly voiced opinions often indicate engagement and a desire for improvement. You might say something along the lines of: 

Denise, you have so many ideas of how we can make things better around here. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the sheer number of suggestions that you come up with and I'd like to share some additional context with you. Specifically, I want to help you understand which ideas are most viable and how you can best present them in a way that is likely to to generate support and actually see them implemented.

The goal here is to encourage idea generation and moderate the way in which those ideas are put forth so that the delivery is less disruptive. Once she's practiced a smoother public delivery, I'd recommend throwing your weight behind an exceptionally good suggestion that you can help get implemented. Explicit support for your direct's idea and a "win" will reinforce the desired behavior, demonstrate trust, and improve the relationship.

With respect to her feedback on your management style, how you manage your other directs is none of her business. You're responsible for an individualized approach to each of your directs. Steer the conversation back to her and perhaps open a discussion about her preferences and how you can adapt your style to be most effective with her.

The knee-jerk agreement is an easy trap to fall into for those of us inclined to please people and facilitate agreement. Resist the urge and embrace the discomfort. Try phrases like Thanks for sharing that or I can see why that would frustrate you. One of my go-tos is That's an interesting suggestion. Let me think on it and we'll re-visit it [during our next 1 on 1].

Take it seriously, write it down, and make sure that you do actually revisit it. That can give you the time and that you need to reflect and consider all angles before committing to an action. If there's a valid objection to what she's looking to do, you can share the context with her and invite her to participate in overcoming or working around the objection. 

For the last part, remember the different types of behavior: The words we say, how we say them, our facial expressions, our body language, and our work product. Verbal and nonverbal communciation, therefore, is behavior and the standard MT feedback model is perfect when you've gotten to the point of rolling out negative feedback: 

Hey Denise, can I give you some feedback? When you roll your eyes and shift your attention to the laptop after I've announced a change in process, it sends a signal that you're not fully supportive and makes it harder for the rest of the team to get on board. Will you change that going forward?

I know that's a lot and I hope that at least some of it is helpful.


Mo84's picture


IF you can do direct communitcation with confrontation about everything that would be the best solution.

nothing will be changed unless you change and show to others whatever annoy you.

all the best