I have a direct that is the professional equivalent of a hermit. She just wants to get in and out as quietly as possible, doing her job while flying under the radar. I suspect she has some stuff going on at home as she's expressed that she likes to leave her homelife there and just get through her workday. She has no immediate ambitions; doesn't do a lousy job, but isn't stellar either. I'm in a term position and expected, in my time, to turn her into something stronger (I'm recognized as having been the best at the position she's in), and she has expressed a desire to learn from me. She's entry level management with minimal people skills. I can help her perform tasks better, but I can't do much more without improving communication between us.

I think she's a blend of D & S, but I can't crack her shell enough to be sure. I am a high C with a healthy dose of D and I. One on Ones are painful for both of us. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how to break through her protective barrier? I have 6.5 months left to work with her, which seems like so little time to even lay the ground work. Any feedback is appreciated. I'm sure there's an obvious solution and I just can't see the forest for the trees.

Mark's picture
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I just want to be clear - she's a MANAGER?


RaisingCain's picture


Ok, here is what I would do. Step back and picture a practical end state. She is effective at managing the team because she completes tasks and communicates well. Now how did we get there.
We encouraged her to get tasks done and deliver the results. We reviewed the effect of communication (good and bad) and worked together on the next behavior. 
Ok, do you have the time in the next 6 months to give positive feedback when behavior and results are delivered…negative when behavior has negative results? Do you have the time to give feedback related to the effectiveness of communication?
Maybe, with a limited time we can trim the objectives down to something manageable, lets work with some assumptions. She can communicate, its just different not bad. The techniques I would bring to bare on these situations will not work because I’m different. Fundamentals, yes, my tips/tricks, no.
Ok, so now, here is what I would with that end state in mind and few assumptions to manage the limited time I have.
I would have her give me a small deliverable every week (24 of them) related to job oriented results and communication with the team. When the results are good I would give positive feedback, when they are bad I would give negative feedback (24 times in the last 24 one on one’s).
Who knows maybe you’ll be surprised and the hermit style is effective…lots of positive feedback. Maybe you’ll get 6 (20%) small incremental behavior changes in 24 weeks….lots of negative feedback.
Recap my thoughts, 1. You, get out of the forest. 2. Assign tasks with deliverables, things an effective person in that position will be expected to deliver. 3. Give feedback. 4. End your term having been the best at that position too. :)
Good luck,