Submitted by CalKen on
I just wanted to share my recent experience with everyone (being a high "I" personality I want to share my feelings).
I am a manager leading a team that is the fourth team in this program in two years (I have only been managing in this program for seven months and the most longevity any of my teammates has is four months) and my direct manager does not communicate priorities very well (she is a high-"D" micro-manager, apologies to all you high-"D"'s out there). I have focused mainly on getting the available information flows improved and to build on the "informal" tribal knowledge to make processes which will guide me and my team and help standardize our efforts.
Yesterday I got a very blunt email from my manager, who voiced her "unhappiness" at what she felt was a very important task that I had been training my team and developing processes for. My team and I were given no sense of priority for this and several deadlines which she had with her customer had passed without us even knowing the urgency. She is now "rustling the natives" in my team so to speak to get this "urgent request" taken care of and as such is taking a more hands-on approach to everything that my team does as she feels that I have failed her (she did not say that directly but the intent of her email and her actions signals as such).
The lessons that I have learned are that I need to communicate with my manager more to better understand what is expected of me and my team. On a smaller note, I need to be more "hands on" when I am dealing with my directs who are learning new processes so that they do not get too distracted and give them more latitude as they become more efficient in them. My team is great (I have O3's with them every week and involve them in all decision-making) and have rallied to my cause but I cannot help but feel that I let them and my manager down.
If there would be anything that I could ask for from this audience, I guess I would like to get their take on how I could better improve both (a) my relationship with my manager, which was fairly strong before, and (b) how I can better understand her priorities, and (c) whether my lessons learned are valid or if there is something I could improve on that I do not see. If I had known of her priorities I know that my team and I would have performed to her expectations but I cannot help but feel that I have failed her and my team as a result. I eagerly await your inputs.
Learning from failure...
How about sitting down with your manager and asking how you can align priorities better, and admitting that this one project didn't go well? Identify a means of documenting what your team is working on and what their milestones are (who will do what by when...).
Weekly project updates to your boss with details of what they're working on and what milestones are being met will be very helpful here.
Project plan updates and design documents are great means of averting misunderstandings.
Learning from failure...
High D Boss? Listen to the how to apologize podcast. Then apologize.
We could have a long discussion about whether or not you did anything wrong, and it wouldn't mean a darned thing. Your boss needed you to get something done and you didn't. Apologize. Hat in hand, no disclaimers, no explanations. Just apologize.
Then, ask your boss what you can do to better understand your priorities. For a high D, that is improving the relationship. :)
Learning from failure...
Anytime you intake a task, you need three pieces of data from your boss:
Who, What, and When.
When the boss casually flings tasks out to you like frisbees without giving you all of the information, and you do not ask for more information to ensure you deliver to their schedule, you are not covering your boss and making sure that things are handled for them.
Take good care of your boss and watch his six. Ask after these three data elements for every task.
What do you want me to do? Give a brief example of what you are thinking you will provide and say, "Will something like that work?"
When do you need this by? They will probably say, "Now." You can ask, "Is there a meeting or a request from your boss I am helping you with? When is it? How long do you need this in advance? What are you going to do with it?"
You might find your boss is under huge pressure with a major meeting and forgot to prepare something for that meeting. Figure out how to deliver enough of what they need FAST. High D's want what they want RIGHT NOW even if it is a little sloppy. They don't want it tomorrow perfect when they can have it 80% accurate today.
Don't interrogate your boss, but do get clarification on what your boss wants, and ensure that you know who they are interfacing with that requires you to do this. You can learn the preferences of those people and prepare material for your boss that is more tailored for the audience and save them the trouble.
Your boss is busy. Your boss is under pressure. Your boss hired you to help. Your boss cannot think of everything. Your boss is not perfect and needs you to help and contribute directly to his goals and to his performance.
Find out exactly how to do that on each task, and sometime sit down and find out how to do that all year long.
Advice for a high-I dealing with a high-D: Whatever it is, your boss doesn't care about it. Don't say a bunch of things designed to coddle or molify your boss. High-D's hate to hear that high-I stuff that sounds like "Now, I don't want to ruffle any feathers here, and I'm not trying to make anyone look bad, you know what I mean? I just want to help."
The high-D is thinking, "Shut up and spit it out."
Another high-I behavior you can watch out for with a high-D: Talking yourself up too much. "I'm pretty good at this and that." Don't talk about how you know how to do something. High-D's interpret that as posing and blowing smoke. They want to see it, not hear about it.
A high-D's dream direct is a US Marine Gunnery Sargent
"Sargent, I need a box of cigars."
"Yes, sir! Are these for the general visiting this afternoon?" (a smart gunny knows the general's calendar and memorizes it)
"That would be it."
"Shall I get the cubans, or something local, sir?"
"The cubans will do fine, Gunny."
"Right away, sir!"
The gunny snaps to, and walks out QUICKLY. Cigars come back in plenty of time for the meeting. Cubans could not be found in time, but something else was available and the gunny worked to the timeline, not perfection and returns to base with *something* for the general.
Be the gunny. Find out your mission parameters and timeline. Take the parameters from the general. If the timeline is short, drop everything else on the floor and accomplish the general's request right now.
Learning from failure...
I think US41 is much closer than Will on this one. I won't disagree with the apology - though I would suggest that that makes sense to YOU because you are a high I, and you want to have a warm relationship with your boss and she couldn't care less about you and your relationship with her.
RESULTS are far more important than apologies.
I would also argue that it's a bit misleading to say that your boss is a "High D Micromanager". High D's are RARELY if ever micromanagers. It's likely that your boss is a High D High C - and that means that she wants results NOW, and she wants you to do it her way. I would guess that she is going to be hovering around your team until you and the team get back on track with RESULTS.
I think asking more about what she wants, and then delivering it quickly, will be the PERFECT solution in her mind to help her completely forget about what just happened....and she WILL forget.