Hi All,

I’m the Marketing Manager of two teams at an Australian based Association (Not for Profit) – the teams: Marketing and Customer Service.

I am a high I, with a classical pattern as Inspirational. I face an ongoing roadblock with one of my direct reports, who are a high S; Specialist. He sits in the Customer Service team and primary role is to take inbound calls and run weekly IT reports.

The problem I face daily is finding a method to communicate with him about how to correct he’s technical behavior which he is currently performing at a below average rate.

Any feedback delivered to him about performance is received two ways 1. he's behavior changes to a defensive mode; '...but I haven't made a mistake for a while' or 2. myself and the team are exposed to a sulkish, childish team member who isn't Gen Y by the way. 

I'm after the communities advice about how I can approach this employee with negative feedback so technical behavior can improve and we can keep him on the team?



mattpalmer's picture

Two possibilities come to mind (well, three, technically) as to why your direct is having a negative reaction to your feedback.

First off, the relationship.  High S's are very keen on relating well to others, so you want to make sure your relationship is really solid with a high S before you start giving feedback.  The other side of this is that it's relatively easy to build a relationship with a high S, because they're eager to do so.  The high S on my team was all over one-on-ones, and we had great chats about everything.

The second possibility, if the relationship is rock solid, is that you're not delivering the feedback in an appropriate tone.  A high S won't push back at you directly if they feel hard done by (like a D or an I) but they need an outlet for their feelings, so they pull away, which is interpreted as "sulking".

Could you give us a couple of examples of the negative feedback you've given, with the exact words you used?  Along with that, the tone of voice and the facial expressions used would be helpful.  Did you have "a smile on your face and a chuckle in your voice", or were you stern?  You'll get a much better reaction out of *anyone*, but especially a high S, if you keep your feedback light and inconsequential.

duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

I actually am not sure by your question that this is actually a DISC problem as oppossed to a routine performance management issue, but if it is here goes...

High S people like to know what is expected of them, so make sure you have a clear benchmark of what you want.   Nothing would make a high S happier than pleasing you by hitting the goal.    If you have that, maybe the person lacks the skills or ability to perform the task.  If that's the case, get him some training.  "Specialists" want to be experts, if they need help becomming one, then coach.

High S people see things in terms of relationships, but you need them to focus on task.   Show them how focussing on the task will make things better for people.

Make it pretty clear that #2 response has nothing to do with what you expect your direct to be doing.   Their response to that childish person is their own problem, the work still needs to be done.   Let them vent if they want, but then make it clear you expect them to come up with strategies to be successful.

As for #1 response, break the relationship between the past and the future goals. Error free work is commendable and make sure the person knows you appreciate it.   However, get them to focus on the future - tell them what your new standard is and then enforce it.   Show them how the new standard improves the work life of the people around them.   For example:  "Bob, when you complete the reports like I asked, it means Jenny doesn't need to chase Tom for data.  This gives Jenny and Tom more time for their priorities and helps our department run a lot better."





mi5mark's picture

I manage a high S and I make sure I tell them regualrly how much I value them as a leader and what they bring to the team, i.e. balance and looking out for their team members. I want them to continue doing this because of the balance they bring.

When I give them negative feedback I make sure I explain how this has affected their team (which is in a negative way). I also think motivational interviewing techniques work well with these types of people, so really get them to come up with the answers themselves.