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I have an issue with a direct who drones on every time I talk to him. It doesn't matter if we are in his one on one or in a group setting. I have to admit that I am a high D and a high C (creative), so my patience is naturally a thin for this kind of thing. I am stumped though because the direct is a high D with low I and S scores (developer) and he only does this with me. He is usually very reserved, to the point, and borders on anti-social. When he gets a chance to talk to me though he unloads and once he gets a rhythm its hard to slow him down.

This started about a year ago, when I first came in as his manager. His father had recently passed away and I noticed he was struggling. I pulled him aside and counseled him, having recently gone through the same thing myself. Ever since then I haven't been able to talk to him without hearing his life story. He's a great technician, a good direct, and he'll do anything I ask. I don't want to be rude and risk souring a good worker, but I can't afford to spend an hour talking to this direct every time he can corner me.

I've given him feedback on this issue and it seems to work for a day or two and then he starts to run over time again. Any help you can offer on how handle this direct without ruining the working relationship would be most appreciated.

AManagerTool's picture

I don't think this is a feedback situation. This isn't his problem. It's yours. How's this:

Direct: BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH
You: I hate to interrupt you but I need to go and get something done.
Direct: But...BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH
You: *Smile* Save this conversation for our One on One OK?
Direct: OK....but BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAH and...
You: talk to you then....bye! *Walks away*

Do that two times and he will get it....

Good luck

AManagerTool's picture

You ARE doing one on one's ....RIGHT? :wink:

US101's picture

What feedback did you give him?

TomW's picture

So the problem here is that you have a direct who's really comfortable talking to you... gee, what a problem!

How much time are we really talking about here? Is your direct talking to you for 5 minutes? or 45? If it's 5, then the problem is you being impatient. If it's more like 45 minutes, then the problem is you letting him talk so long.

The fact that you phrased this "how do I stick a cork in my direct" makes me suspect that it's your impatience. That phrasing really is a callous approach to the situation.

You're the boss. Whenever there is a problem, start looking for answers in concentric circles around yourself.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Oh that every manager should have such a good relationship with their directs!

Seriously, go with what tool said. Do One-On-Ones and ask him to bring what he wants to talk about to the One-On-One, but make sure he understands that it will just be his 10 minutes. If you sense that there is a specific issue relating to the loss of his father than maybe you need to either schedule a longer discussion with him to let him 'talk it out' or perhaps refer him to a counselling service or Employee Assistance Programme if one exists.

If this person appears as antisocial as you have indicated (and is a very low I and S) it's entirely possible that he's never really had anyone to share his personal feelings with. Then you come along and offer empathy so years of pent up frustration comes out. Maybe you could get him on some communications skills programmes as part of his professional development (e.g. a course, suggest he attend Toastmasters, give him a goal of saying "Good Morning, how are you?" to people as he comes in in the morning (or as they pass his desk as they come in) &c). help him to become more social so he won't need to unload on you.

The very first MT podcast ([url=http://www.manager-tools.com/2005/06/solution-to-a-stalled-technical-car..."Solution to a stalled technical career"[/url])was about the need for technical people to develop communication skills. Maybe you could send him the link to that and suggest he listen to it. At your next One-On-One ask him what he thought, then how he could apply that advice in his work.

Stephen

US41's picture

Feedback won't work if you don't identify the behavior. The behavior is not droning on and on. Sometimes it is OK to have a long talk with you, so that isn't the ineffective behavior. When you give feedback that someone is droning on and on and it ticks you off, they just stop talking to you. Then you re-engage and they assume the coast is clear and start up again.

What is the real behavior that is the problem? Identification of the appropriate time.

Try this instead:

"...when you come talk to me without scheduling time on my calendar..."

"... when you come into my office even though the do not disturb sign is hanging on the doorknob..."

"... when you talk while I am on the phone ..."

"... when you come to my desk without checking my calendar in outlook, which is shared with the whole company and very public..."

If you hit on the behavior that is really the problem, the feedback will be more effective.

mwarr3n's picture

If I came across as callous in my topic, that was not my intent. I know it sounds like whining that I have a good relationship with this direct, but it is more along the lines of 45 minutes to an hour and not 5 minutes. I don't mind socializing, but the company is paying us both to work and 45 minutes to an hour is pushing the envelope when it occurs multiple times per week. I don't want to be inflexible, I just want to be a good steward of the companies resources.

The feedback I gave him was straight out of the tools guidelines and went something like this " ... when you run over in meetings or your one on one, it impacts the time we have to meet the deadlines we have both committed to. This leads me to question your commitment to effective time management which limits the opportunities I can give you." It works for a short time and then he gets on a roll and forgets.

I think stephenbooth_uk and AManagerTool hit it right on the head. This direct needs interpersonal skills and I need to be forceful and direct. I'll start him out toward a socialization program, and be direct and firm in end times. Thanks for the advice gents

lazerus's picture

I [b][i]LOVE IT[/i][/b] when my boss LISTENS to me. It is wrong, technically, to get my social needs met at work, but that's the reality. :roll: