Would love your input on how to best correct his behavior.

I am overseeing a new project that will be managed by a high-D manager one level below mine, though he is not my Direct Report.

He scheduled his first meeting with me today to discuss direction and scope of the project, and did not show up until almost an hour later apologizing that he got hold up in an overly long business lunch meeting.

I could not meet with him, so the meeting is postponed.

I normally start first project meetings with an FYI about my working style - honest feedback, high performance expectations etc. So I plan to address this behavior at this time - telling him that it impacted my plan for the day and that it makes me wonder if I made the right decision to pick him as the owner of this project. And that in the future, he should let me know that he would not be able to make it.

He is highly talented, but always have excuses for not meeting deadlines, etc.

He wants to get ahead, but these traits are undermining his progress. I really want to give him feedback and make him more effective.

Any advice would be appreciated. I am weighing the pro's and con's of getting involved with his business behavior.

His boss left a few months ago, and he is now temporarily reporting to my boss, who doesn't have a lot of time. And my boss is not involved in the day-to-day work where the behaviors of this high-D is troublesome.

PaulSchweer's picture
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I've had mixed results trying to help those-not-my-direct, some, I believe, rewarding on both sides, some shockingly permanently bad.

Is helping him advance his career the same as preventing his damaging yours? Would it be better to let him take the lead on the former?


Paul Schweer

US41's picture

I don't think introducing yourself with negative feedback is going to be successful for you. Neither is giving negative feedback on a first occurrence of a behavior. Negative feedback - save it for when behaviors re-occur. Don't attack every behavior you disagree with or that inconveniences you.

I also don't agree with reeling someone in to explain your working style. Why not try to understand his? Telling everyone that they revolve around your star and this is how to do so properly - again - relationship destroying behavior.

If you want to hold a meeting with him, I think you need to change the agenda to be more "Seek to understand before being understood." Did you give him an agenda? Surely not, because it would have read

9:00 AM - Tell you how I like to work
9:30 AM - Give you a bunch of direction even though I'm not your boss

As a high D myself, I think I'd probably be figuring out something else to do and make excuses. I doubt that is what he did, but I wouldn't blame him.

If he is the project manager, and he doesn't report to you, why are you "overseeing" the project? Isn't that your boss's job?


stephenbooth_uk's picture

What is your relationship to this person. You say he's not your direct, but you're overseeing his project. Would it be accurate to say that he's matrixed to you? Are you deputising for your boss in this?

If he's matrixed to you take a listen to the podcasts about managing in a matrix environment:

On the telling him your working style, I'm a bit unsure. If you're doing it because you expect him to work that way then it probably is going to be very ineffective and quite destructive. If, however, you mean briefing him on what he can expect from you and what you expect from him, plus the when and what format type issues, then I think that's quite reasonable.

If you're deputising for your boss, I'm presuming that his former boss was at your level so this person is on a lower level than you, then I think the first thing you need to do is get it formalised (even if it's just an email from your boss to him saying "Hey, dude. HCAN will be acting as your boss for the foreseeable future."), and some idea how long it's likely to go on (how long until he gets a regular line manager). Once it's formalised then start in with the trinity exactly as you would any temporary direct.

If it's something else then please clarify and we might be able to give better targeted advice.


hchan's picture

Thank you for all your advice. I met with him yesterday, and he opened up about an issue that bothered him, and we discussed it openly. So I took the opportunity to bring up my concern after that. It seemed to go very well. But time will tell.

Paul - Thanks for the insight. I am taking your advice in leaving the "helping his career" alone and focus only on the part that directly impact the project.

US41 - It's not really an "introduction" per se. I've had some interaction with him for the last few years. And this kind of behavior coming from him does not really surprise people. (His old boss never really "managed"). My (our) boss had told him that he needs to fix these issues in order to be promotable.

Also, this project is actually a part of my responsibilities, and I choose to delegate it to him as I recognize his potential. He wants this project because it will give him a lot of visibility - this can be a career-boosting project for him. In order to be successful, he would need my expertise to provide certain critcal elements.

I am a high I-S-C, so I wouldn't just tell him my working style without asking what his prefered working style is. (Now I know a high-D would do that. ;-) )

Stephen - Most of your assumptions are correct. Thank you for all your advice.

- I approached working style in terms of what he can expect from me, and get his take on what I can expect from him. Went well.

- his old boss is the same level as mine, and I am somewhat deputising for my boss. I will talk to my boss in my next O3, and discuss whether to formalize this. I will also listen to the matrix podcasts.

Thank you all.