It has been reported to me that one of my skips has been acting less than respectfully to his supervisors, and after receiving feedback from them, declares to his peers (loudly enough for his supervisor to hear) that "it's no big deal, I'll just go talk to the boss, we're buddies".

This particular ee and I have worked together in different departments at other sites. We have always gotten along amicably, but never anything more than a casual conversation during a break. I am now the department manager and he is a front-line ee at a site that is relatively new to both of us. He joined the team 6 months ago, while I've been here for about a month. I've worked very closely in the past with most of my directs as co-workers and feel that I am well on my way to building very good relationships with them.

I have an open door policy right next to the room where my department works, so everyone knows that they are welcome to pop in whenever, even if it's just for a brief chat.

I've made a point of having casual talks with all of the skips in my transition process and holding more formal scheduled 03s with the supervisors. The only change that I am working on right now in the department is empowering the supervisors who, until now, behaved like peers to the front-line staff.

I am concerned that the above mentioned ee is damaging the supervisors' authority and the supervisors don't know how to respond to it.

On one particular instance the skip stormed out of the room and into my office. He sat down and I asked him what the problem was. The supervisor followed, and apparently the supervisor had strongly pointed out unprofessional behavior to the skip in front of the team. While I didn't agree with his delivery, I backed him up to the skip and asked the supervisor if the skip could return to his desk. He agreed. At that point I gave the supervisor feedback about the way he tried to correct the skip's behavior ( I haven't been giving any corrective feedback until now, only positive, but this one was urgent).

I am concerned that it appears to the team that I was reprimanding the supervisor and backing up the skip.

The skip continues to stop by my office a few times a week, we chat briefly and he continues on.

I am hoping to get suggestions on how to maintain my open door policy without undermining, or giving the front-line the appearence of undermining, the supervisors. Additionally, how do I communicate to my skips that although I love to build great relationships with them, none of them will receive any special treatment based on that relationship?

stephenbooth_uk's picture

The skip's behaviour seems unreasonable and ineffective for the team(s). If he again claims to 'have an in with the big boss' I think you need to give him some feedback along the lines of "When you undermine your supervisor by saying you'll talk to me because we're buddies, here's what happens: It makes you sound like a suck up. It makes my job harder. It makes me think that maybe you'd be better somewhere else. Perhaps a different company? What can you do differently?"


jhack's picture

You also need to make it quite clear to your directs that you support them, not him. Not just a little, not just in private. Unequivocally.

Your directs need to be coached in how to give feedback, so that when this skip plays his little games, they, too, can help the skip see the implications of his behavior on both the organization and his career.


asteriskrntt1's picture

The door is not 7-11.  It doesn't have to be open 24/7 for everyday chit chat.  Build the skip relationships outside the door.  Build the directs' relationships inside the door.



PS - it is also quite possible that the skip was really embarrassed and just trying to save some face.  He did not really mean it. 


jhack's picture

It really doesn't matter if he was embarrassed, or intended to embarrass someone else; or if he meant it or not.  We can't see his thoughts.  His behavior, however, clearly isn't acceptable.  


galway's picture

for all of the helpful suggestions. The most challenging element, to me, is that the behavior that requires correcting is happening behind my back. I don't give feedback on behavior that I don't experience directly somehow. I've confronted him, he denies the context and claims that the words did not undermine his supervisors in any way.

I completely agree that building feedback ability in my directs is the best way to address this issue, but thats where another challenge lies. I am nearly half way through my 90-day transition period and have introduced one-on-ones and am giving positive feedback. It feels like a huge leap for me to go ahead and coach my directs on giving correcting feedback. Additionally, the citicism (I cannot call it feedback) that my directs typically give is both harsh and infrequent. I fear that encouraging my directs to give the skip more feedback about his behavior before they've been coached on it  may damage relationships. I am considering two options: 1. Accelerate the feedback training process dramatically, even scheduling and additional O3 specifically for feedback, and encourage corrective feedback asap. 2. Meet with the skip and his supervisor again, giving corrective feedback to the skip while reinforcing the supervisor's position.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Secret alternative 3?

RobRedmond's picture

Beware of dropping the Trinity Bomb. Many of us High D types deployed the MT system in a matter of hours and days and found ourselves eating a lot of crow later as a result. Deploy it slowly.

Whatever problems your folks are having, they had for a long time, and they can continue having them for just a little longer.


stephenbooth_uk's picture

Are your direct MT members and listeners?  If not, get them to go to the site and at least listen to the basics casts.   Maybe even look at introducing goals around feedback (and the other tools) into the appraisals of your directs next year?  Feedback is not only about behaviour, the act of giving feedback is a behaviour and something you can give feedback on when you see it.

You're already in the process of introducing the trinity, great!  Before you get into coaching feedback you can lead by example.  You may even find that by the time you get into coaching your directs on it they have already seen the power and are already 'sold'.


bflynn's picture

My read on this is that you're not giving strong enough feedback to the skip.  You don't have to witness the behavior - but make it clear that what is being reported to you is not acceptable and that you place the responsibility on HIM to fix it.

"John, I need to give you some feedback, is now a good time?  Great.  I've been told that you slammed a book down on the desk, yelled at your supervisor and stormed out of their office.  I want to absolutely clear with you that this is unacceptable behavior and causes me to X.   What are you going to do to prevent this from happening again?"

X is some behavior based on the skip's DiSC type - say for a D, "causes me to question your ability to deliver on your job" or for an I "causes me to question whether you really belong as part of this organization".  

Excuses are irrelevant as always.  Denial of the behavior is irrelevant - "If that's the case, then you won't have a problem avoiding this in the future."  

I don't see a need for anything more than feedback here.  



Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

This seems pretty straightforward.  You don't have a problem with your open door policy, nor for the most part with the implementation of your open door policy.

The problem is with the behavior of - I think - one skip.  It seems to me that he is clearly using your policy to both send a message of - and then act upon - the perception of a special relationship with you.  His behavior is unprofessional.  It undermines him and you and his boss, your direct.

Give him some feedback.  Simple, short, polite, with a smile.  Keep it up until he gets it.