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One of my fellow managers in my organization is becoming increasingly difficult for me to work with.  Since I need to work with this person regularly on a number of initiatives, it is severely impacting the enjoyment I get out of my job.  I am growing to really dislike working on any project with him, as his attitude and behavior grates on my nerves and I often leave meetings frustrated or angry when he is in them (examples are abundant, but I don't think they are necessary... ask if you think it matters).

I do not want to be a person that goes home and complains about their job to their spouse.  Enjoying my work and being able to tolerate the people I work with is very important to me.  Something is going to need to change in my interaction with the other manager soon, or I will start looking for another job just to get away from him.

So, I've thought about it and think that sitting him down and trying to work through it is something I am willing to do.  Do I give him feedback following the feedback model, or do I just tell him "Look, I think you and I need to work through some issues in order for us to work better together" and jump right in?  Have you ever worked with someone you didn't like that you hashed things out with?  What works? What doesn't?

stringl's picture

Hi Jaredavd,

I guess my first response to your post is to ask whether you think the problem is really him, or whether you and he simply have different communication styles. If you don't know the DiSC model, I think it's worth listening to the earlier podcasts in the series at http://www.manager-tools.com/taxonomy/term/17. I'm high C/D and used to get really annoyed by a particular high I. The disc model made me realize that she just had a different style that wasn't bad, just different. Mind you, I still get irritated by high I's and high S's sometimes, but I try to handle it differently.

If you think there's more to it than that, please do post a few examples of what he's doing that you find annoying. That might help us to provide specific advice.

S.

SMcM's picture

I agree - use DiSC to help.

I was in a situation where one of my skips really, really, really got under my skin. After attending the Effective Communications Conference last year I began to understand it was just because we are completely opposite on the DiSC. I have learnt to deal with her, and her and can now work well with her. I don't like her and would rather not have to see here again but that's not going to happen.

If I hadn't worked that out I don't know what would have happened!

I still find it tough but I understand it more and know I can get through her irritations.

Cheers,

Stuart.

jhack's picture

What they do that bugs you is important. Are they cracking gum or disparaging company strategy? Are they merely loud and laughing at their own jokes, or are they not completing tasks on time?

Eamples are important

 

John Hack

jaredavd's picture

Thanks for the replies.  I'm a bit familiar with DiSC but I've not sat down and tried to classify myself or my irritating coworker-- I'll spend a bit of time on that in the next few days.  We are definitely different stylistically.  Here's a couple of examples (all examples of behavior in meetings, which seem to be the ignition point for me):

1.  I'm a key decision maker for a project (a very time consuming, high profile, short-deadlined project).  This project does not involve or affect him or his team.  However, he's insisted on inviting himself to all the decision meetings and then contradicting and undermining me in front of a number of other managers and directors (my perception, I'm sure in his own head he's just being helpful and he's convinced he belongs there).  He is uninformed about the project since he started inviting himself to the meetings about 3 weeks after it started, so he missed a lot of the start-up discussions. 

2.  In the most recent meeting, he made a point to say that I did not send him a certain spreadsheet in front of all the other directors and managers after I had announced that everyone in the room had the most recent version that I sent the previous day.  I told him I sent it, but he insisted he didn't get it.  The project director then stared me down and said "You'll get that sent out to everyone.... RIGHT?"  When I got back to my office to a PC, I checked my sent mail and sure enough, I sent it the previous day and he had opened it about 2 hours later.  This one in particular made me furious as I saw this as an attack on my reputation, which I grow and protect very carefully.

3. A number of managers were in a meeting.  Our boss and I were early and sat next to each other at the table.  He came in several minutes later, took a chair from against the wall of the conference room, and without saying excuse me or asking if he could sit near us (or anything, for that matter), nudged his way in between me and our boss.  I didn't make room for him, so he just kept inching up bit by bit and bumping his chair into mine until he'd wedged himself into a position at the table between me and our boss.

stringl's picture

Hi Jaredavd,

it does sound like more than simply a matter of different styles. My main suggestion would be to focus on your own work, producing excellent results and working professionally with others.  The examples you're given don't seem to amount to a serious disruption to how you do your job, however annoying they may be. So the thing to try to do is to not get so annoyed by them. To paraphrase Mark and Mike: this manager doesn't make you annoyed, you choose to get annoyed in response to his actions. Concentrating on your own work and results may make this easier.

What you could also do is work at building a better relationship with him. Not that I'm suggesting what's happening is your fault. Just that it's simpler for you to change your behaviour than to tell him to change his. You probably can't change this other manager's behaviour, and confronting him would probably exacerbate things. However, spending more time with him and getting to know him better would never be a bad thing to do.

As for the specifics:

1. Getting involved in your project - would be be worth you meeting up with him 1 to 1 to to understand his concerns and to give him the background on the project he missed? If you think that "in his own head he's just being helpful" then this could be a good way of getting him more on side, and also of building up more of a relationship with him.

2. Claiming not to receive an email - you can never win this sort of an argument. Even if you prove to everyone present that you did send it, it unfortunately just makes you seem petty. It's unfair, I know. The best thing to do is simply to let it go and to calmly and helpfully say perhaps there was a mistake, and you'll be particularly careful in future. If you have a reputation for being organized and efficient, then even if everyone believes you missed him off the list (and they may not), one isolated incident won't hurt you. 

3. Meeting seating - this is a little strange, and I'd guess your boss thought so too, so I wouldn't worry about it. If a similar thing were to happen in future, I'd just warmly (not sarcastically) say "hi Bob, would you like me to move up to make some room?".

Regards,

S.

 

jhack's picture

Your manager is also his manager ("...our boss...").   Are you the project manager?  Or a technical specialist?  

Let's see...   You are a "key decision maker" for a project that "does not involve him" but when he comes "uninvited" to a meeting, your boss lets him take time away from whatever he should be doing, to "contradict and undermine" you, even though he is "uninformed." 

There is a dynamic here we can't see.  Your manager seems to think that he's adding value.  Perhaps your manager sees you as needing to build more consensus, to not just be a "key decision maker" but to really engage everyone.  

If you're the project manager, you should be able to define everyone's role clearly, and based on the agenda, decide who is at the meeting and who is not.  If you're not, then you need to take a step back and see if there is a better way to have influence over decisions, to be more persuasive. 

You could start by taking this guy to lunch, and building a relationship with him.  Understand his goals and why he feels such a strong need to contribute.  Maybe get to understand why your manager thinks he belongs in the meetings. 

And then you can start to prewire your meetings.  ( http://www.manager-tools.com/2007/11/how-to-prewire-a-meeting )   No reason this guy can't be your ally. 

John Hack

LifetimeLearner's picture

This article may be helpful - on supportive confrontation. I do think you need to confront the other person - 1:1 . 

Pre-wire cast will also help. 

http://www.edbatista.com/2006/10/david_bradford__1.html .

dgfraser's picture

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Hi Jaredavd,

I read your posts with interest because I have a similar situation but it is from the opposite perspective. Since I found it fascinating to ready about what frustrates you I thought maybe you would be interested in my situation and what frustrates me - maybe there is something useful for you too.

I am a solution architect/Development team manager, I have spent my career sharing knowledge and keeping everyone on the same page. I see my part of my role, and a key skill I have, to bridge technology issues and business problems conveying understanding for the project managers who consume my team and other technical teams.

When technical issues or questions come up in a project I do my best to answer and assist promptly - the PMs love it. The trouble is that if the issue touches infrastructure then the infrastructure manager views this assistance as interference in an area they are responsible for. The infrastructure manager does not want to be proxyed by anyone else - insisting on problems queuing up for him to deal with directly - without involvement of anyone else who may be only a peripheral stakeholder (like the solution architect in their view). This has two effects that I don't like: Firstly I feel ineffective because I can't assist in the smooth running of projects providing quick and mostly right answers without offending the infrastructure manager, and secondly I am unable to improve on any performance in the former because I don't learn the answers when they are given directly to the primary parties alone.

And before you say I should talk to him about it and build up some trust and mutual understanding, I have tried – I think we fundamentally disagree about the principles of information sharing - he doesn't have anytime for "busy bodies" like me. I am working on my answers and being more sensitive but much relationship damage is already done.

Regards,

Dan

 

 

 

dgfraser's picture

Normal
0

Hi Jaredavd,

I read your posts with interest because I have a similar situation but it is from the opposite perspective. Since I found it fascinating to ready about what frustrates you I thought maybe you would be interested in my situation and what frustrates me - maybe there is something useful for you too.

I am a solution architect/Development team manager, I have spent my career sharing knowledge and keeping everyone on the same page. I see part of my role, and a key skill I have, to bridge technology issues and business problems conveying understanding for the project managers who consume my team and other technical teams.

When technical issues or questions come up in a project I do my best to answer and assist promptly - the PMs love it. The trouble is that if the issue touches infrastructure then the infrastructure manager views this assistance as interference in an area they are responsible for. The infrastructure manager does not want to be proxyed by anyone else - insisting on problems queuing up for him to deal with directly - without involvement of anyone else who may be only a peripheral stakeholder (like the solution architect in their view). This has two effects that I don't like: Firstly I feel ineffective because I can't assist in the smooth running of projects providing quick and mostly right answers without offending the infrastructure manager, and secondly I am unable to improve on any performance in the former because I don't learn the answers when they are given directly to the primary parties alone.

And before you say I should talk to him about it and build up some trust and mutual understanding, I have tried – I think we fundamentally disagree about the principles of information sharing - he doesn't have anytime for "busy bodies" like me. I am working on my answers and being more sensitive but much relationship damage is already done.

Regards,

Dan