Submitted by arclight on
For background, I'm in the military and was promoted several months ago after my previous boss was "let go" (I'm in the health care field). I was taken by surprise, but stepped up to the plate. Fortunately, my deputy is very experienced and has helped mentor a lot these past few months. One of my direct reports is fairly new to my section, and it just so happens that he outranks me! It puts me in somewhat of a weird position, and I've taken pains to really treat him with kid gloves, and my deputy tends to be the one who gives him feedback and mentorship. My deputy will be leaving soon, and I think based on that and some burgeoning problems with his leadership has lead me to believe that I really need to start doing some one on ones with him.
My main issue with him is his performance. He's very capable in many respects, but based on my observations and some feedback I got from his assistant last week (the assistant sought me out privately) I am concerned that he is headed down a dangerous path. For one, true to form as a D, he is very aggressive about instituting lots of changes without consulting me or engaging his staff. For instance, he wants to change some shifts around, but never sought feedback from the staff, nor did he engage our union. Also, it was never clear to me why he was doing it. Well, his assistant tells me that the entire staff is opposed to this move, and will end up pissing a lot of people off. I further learned that is not trusted by most of the staff, and many of them do not like his leadership style. He has a tendency to be authoritarian, kind of "it's my way or the highway" style. The bottom line is that he sees himself as a skilled leader (he is a voracious reader of leadership books, and makes that fact known), pretty much is angry that I was chosen for the top job in the department, and is angling to assume more control over the department (meddles in the business of other sections without authrorization).
I want to gently walk him through some of these issues, but don't want to ruin the relationship, because I sincerely believe his heart is in the right place. He has known issues with antagonizing people at his previous job, and he is aware of that. I want to do it this week, but I'm also worried because I have scheduled a staff retreat this coming Friday. Any advice or recommendations?
Be careful making assumptions...
These sound like a lot of classic High-D Direct problems. One major red flag in your post that jumped out at me, though, was this:
"The bottom line is that he sees himself as a skilled leader (he is a voracious reader of leadership books, and makes that fact known), pretty much is angry that I was chosen for the top job in the department, and is angling to assume more control over the department (meddles in the business of other sections without authrorization)"
Be careful of ascribing motivations to people. You have identified his actions as agressive and not taking others' feedback. Those are behaviors. Assuming that he is angling for more control or that he is angry is ascribing motivation that you could be right or wrong about, but have no way of knowing (short of him coming right out and saying "this is my motivation...")
Meddling in the business of other sections without authorization is classic High D behavior as well. Things need to get done, you are getting them done. Why is everyone getting upset? They should thank me that I just got it done. Also, High D's are notoriously poor communicators. I have a High D direct that would just ask me for things or take actions that absolutely frustrated the heck out of me. But once I sat him down and explained "hey...I know you want to get things done. But I am someone that needs to understand why I am doing something before I do it (High S DISC) If you want to get better results from *me* in my function of supporting and helping you get your job done, then you need to take the extra few minutes to give me background and explain. In turn, I will do my part to respond extra-quickly to your requests and needs so that you can get your job done as effectively as possible."
It worked like a charm. We have an amazing relationship and working relationship now.
My point is...help the High D understand the value of communicating in terms of things he cares about (i.e. getting the job done better, faster; maintaining relationships in the future so that people will be more likely to help you get things done). That's what DISC is all about.
Also, the Effective Relationship series is amazing. You should look in to it.
Thanks for the reply
As for your point that I assumed motivation, he actually disclosed that he would be competing for my position ( I was interim at the time) when the time came. He also expressed his disappointment about not getting my job to my deputy. I'm going to take your advice however, and do some weekly one on one meetings with him. We had a heart to heart this morning about some morale issues he has been having in his section, and I committed myself to working with him on ensuring his success in management. Many of his problems are with soft skills, and I think that's where we are going to start. He's an excellent project manager, he just lacks some insight into how he is perceived.