BLUF: I'm a male front-line manager with an extremely feminist female direct that is suspicious of everything I do. What are the best practices for interacting with her?
I've been a manager for about 6 years and long-time MT/CT listener; it's great guidance. I work in tech and have mostly managed men. My first female direct is a High-I/High-D, extreme feminist that is suspicious of everything I do. I believe I'm very fair and nonbiased, yet breaking down this barrier has been very tough. My approach to date has been to simply engage in the standard MT best practices like I would with anyone. I'm concerned that I don't have the right perspective and I'm missing something -- I want to be a good manager in her eyes. I've advocated successfully on her behalf for a significant bonus, merit raise and training budget. She has a large amount of freedom to be self-directed and creative in her work activities (I'm not micromanaging). She's relatively early in her career and needs to develop more professionalism overall but she is good at her job. However, I continue to get the impression from her that I cannot be trusted and I'm undermining her and others on the team at every turn. She is only somewhat communicative in one-on-ones and while she will open up at times, I frequently get the impression she's holding back on what she really thinks. I was brought into the organization from the outside to manage the team and she was already an employee. I suspect she'd rather see herself in my role.
As an example, I cannot use any typically benign male-based reference without scoffing, eyes rolling, sighing, etc. (e.g., the expression "to each his own" draws a quick correction of "to each their own").
Everyone I've talked to tells me that she's odd or unreasonable in her behaviors but I can't help feel like I'm missing something. I want to have a positive and constructive relationship. My instinct tells me she's just unprofessional. I'm reluctant to address her over the top "feminism" with feedback as I'm concerned with how that will go over.
I have another female direct that I hired-on myself a year ago. I definitely don't have the same issues with her. She's also quite a bit more professional (thanks MT interviewing guidance!).
Has anyone encountered a similar situation before? How did you handle it? Do I stick with the MT basics or do something in particular to address this?