BLUF: I have a peer who is an UberC. My boss says he has to get better at not focusing on the details *or else*, and asked me (!) for help.

Longer version: My peer (other #2) is a wonderful guy. He also obsesses about details, and seems unable to be in a meeting without telling you Every. Single. Detail. of all the projects he's working on.

Most of my directs actively avoid him, because one question can take an hour. Alas, this has also worn on my boss, and she has hinted she will give him an unfavorable review this year.

I'm not sure how to coach someone to let go of their style (and, clearly, years of behavioral patterns.)
I also don't remember how *I* learned to delegate, and not obsess about the little details. (Other than a period of time in the past when I suddenly thought "**** it", and became much more productive :D )

Are there any High C's that can provide some helpful advice?

I thought about giving him info on DiSC, since it's a system for communication, and might appeal to his style.

I think he'd be most receptive to that, though, after his review, not before. Otherwise, I am stuck saying to the person I rely on most for tech support and physical support "I love you man, but you're making us all crazy."

(that's probably what I'll have to do anyway, but, you know--high S--don't wanna go there.)

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Getting him onto DISC would probably help, often High-Cs don't realise that other people don't think the way they do (although you could certainly say the same for Ds, Is and Ss, I've known a lot of High-Is could couldn't get it that not everyone is a 24-hour party person with a zillion friends and a deep and abiding interest in the minutia of lives of everyone they've ever met :-)), and that's OK.

The first thing that I thought of reading this post was feedback (immediately) and coaching (longer term). This may be heresy, but a small change to the 3rd part ("What can you do differently?") of the feedback may help initially. When in a meeting he gives chapter and verse on all his projects immediately after the meeting the boss gives him feedback on it along the lines of:

M: "Hey, can I give you some feedback?"
C: "OK"
M: "When you give everyone all the details of all your projects everyone switches off and they don't hear what you say. How could you deliver your update in one line, say 20 words or less, per project?"
C: "... ..."

I amended the "What can you do differently?" part as I suspect he'll need a bit of a hint as to the direction he should be thinking.

If he persists in giving excessive detail the feedback could become something along the lines of:

M: "When you continue to give everyone all the details about your projects, going into excessive detail, after I have given you feedback on that behaviour it makes me think that you care more about your ego than you do about doing your job right. What can you do differently?"

If he changes his behaviour the feedback could be something along the lines of:

M: "When you summarise your project update like that it makes me think that you really care about doing a good job and glad that you're on my team. Good job!"

Many High-Cs would actually relish the challenge of condensing the information they want to give (i.e. several pages) into a single line without losing meaning.

Follow that up with coaching. An initial goal might be "One day before the weekly staff meeting, each week, prepare a one line update on each project and show to boss. Deliver these one liners in update section of meeting." Then follow up with a goal like "Respond to queries about project status with statements under 20 words." coupled with "Zero complaints about excessive detail in project status updates in any given week by [date 2 months from now]."


bug_girl's picture

Ah--so slightly amend the feedback to ask what he could do within certain parameters/standards. Clever!

jhack's picture


You're not a high C, right? ;)


bug_girl's picture

No, although I think I have a lot more C tendencies than my DISC score showed. I am the queen of checklists and SOP.

I'm an Agent (High S, with some DI thrown in)

I know there are lots of high Cs here, or folks that manage them, so I'm hoping for some insights. I always have trouble finding the right words, and bouncing things off others helps me sort out my strategy for communication.

Of course, as a high S, I would say that :D

jhack's picture

A good coaching project for a High C is to have them prepare a 60 second update (or whatever time makes sense for your meetings.)

They have to prepare and deliver their update in 60 seconds. They can obsess over the details in private, figure out some process for synthesizing all that data into a crisp synopsis, etc.

And then they deliver. If you need to help them choose what's relevant (milestone identification, for example, rather than every. single. task. that led to its achievement) then do so.

Over time, you can choose other "tasks" that they need to master.


bug_girl's picture

An update--it turns out he picked up on boss' dissatisfaction, and came to me to ask for help. So, Yay! I get to discuss the topic without having to bring it up myself.

I sent him to Rob's BLUF post:

and we talked a little bit about going from:

o detail detail detail what I need


o what I need (detail detail detail, if you want it).

I'm also going to loan him my DISC book ("the 4 dimensional manager"). It's really nice, if you haven't seen it--a lot of If/thens and how-tos.

So, happy ending, hopefully.
Are there any other BLUF resources you'd recommend?

stephenbooth_uk's picture

BLUF: "Effective Writing for Army leaders"

In their cast about writing effectively Mark and Mike reference a writing guide produced by the US Army. Whilst it covers more than just BLUF, it's well worth a read. The quickest way to find it is to Google for "p600_67" or "Effective Writing for Army leaders".

From section 3-2: "Require all staff writing to begin with the main idea. The greatest weakness in ineffective writing is that it doesn’t quickly transmit a focused message. Too much Army writing hides the main point. Insist, as business writers do, on the “bottom line” first. Have subordinates start with the information they would keep if they had to get rid of all the rest."


bug_girl's picture

Oh, thank you!

jchase's picture

If you haven't already, I would also listen to the Peer Feedback podcast. Since you're not his boss, it might help if you just give a bunch of short feedback comments in various situations. You might even tell him that 'When you go into so much detail in personal conversations, people tend to lost interest in the topic' and see what he replies. He might even have an AHA! moment and connect the dots on why people start walking away from conversations right when he is getting to the good part! :)

Drop an update as things go along, too. I am dealing with a similar situation here and would be interested to hear your lessons-learned.


bug_girl's picture

Wow! he did an amazing job of re-arranging his behavior in a very short time!
Meetings are now smoother and more gets done. And yes, I have offered positive feedback :)

Thanks everyone for your help.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Well done, Bug Girl

you also did an amazing job :)

I actually have a super high C student right now (big shocker, she is an accounting student, no rules there).

I moved up a test date and she had a melt down in class, screaming that I had no right to change the date and that it was the most unethical thing she has ever seen.

She followed with "Now I only have 2 weeks to study instead of three, you ruined my schedule!" and stormed out of the class.

Time for some feedback on her too :)