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Submitted by dschreiber on


BLUF: I'm a high-C manager and I'm trying to balance giving enough feedback (I'm convinced Mike & Mark, I should be giving more) against my tendency as a "high C" provide "too much value" (and come across as a "jerk"). How do I know when to draw the line?

I've been listening to the podcasts for ten months. I've listened to many. I get that I should be giving more and more feedback and have rolled it out as Mark and Mike suggest. Focusing on high performers and positive feedback through relationships built on O3 meetings. I'm also measuring to work on making it a habit.  I'm good at providing quantity and balancing positive with negative feedback (more positive than negative - I've got great folks).

I notice lots of detailed things. Things probably as a high-C only I notice. I believe (and say over and over to myself) Horstman's law around "all the water ends up in the ocean." I try really hard to give others (my high D, high I directs) room to do their own thing their own way. I want to provide them with the benefit of seeing what I see when I interpret behaviors as messy or sloppy.

How do I draw the line? How do others in this situation balance what's important enough to provide feedback and what to let go? I've listened and agree with the "not too picky feedback model" and let things go. And yet if they happen again I feel I need to provide feedback. Or I'm not serving my direct well.

Simple example: A direct misspells a word in a meeting request inviting many people. It looks like the person isn't paying attention. When I've given feedback I have gotten push back that "it's a simple mistake" or "not everybody expect perfection." It isn't a huge deal. And I notice it. And others will too as the direct gains more responsibility. Is it too picky?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!


uninet22's picture

Feedback about spelling, puncutation and grammar in email is NOT too picky, especially if that message is going out to a large group of people. 

In some respect, feedback is an invitation to ever-increasing greatness.  If they choose not to follow your counsel, they are choosing not to be excellent.  Which is fine, the world is full of average people.  But they cannot reject these invitations and still expect to receive the rewards of greatness; raises, bonuses, promotions etc. 

I feel a little sadness every time someone dismisses or argues with my feedback, because I know that they are choosing to be average.  But that is up to them.  I can still get great results from average people, and if they ever wonder why they don't receive the rewards of greatness, I can give them these examples of when opportunities for greatness knocked at their door and they didn't answer. 

acao162's picture

I am a High D High I.  I HATE spelling errors.  I HATE grammatical errors.  AND I HATE HATE HATE that those errors are blamed on: being in a hurry, not paying enough attention or "someone else".

There is no acceptable excuse for these errors.  They look sloppy.  They make the company look sloppy.  So, I confront them every single time.  Do we all make mistakes?  Yes.  That is why we proof-read and also allow others to take a second look.

Please do not think it is your High C leading you to be picky.  It is the quest for greatness that leads you to be picky.  Be fussy about spelling.  After all, it does make a difference whether or not the:


Panda eats, shoots and leaves  OR

panda eats shoots and leaves.



naraa's picture
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I want to say i agree with the two replies above.  I am a high I, high D too and I hate spelling mistakes too.  

What I have learned is that just because directs reply back it doesn´t mean they didn´t take the advice in.  It is just their almost automatic defence mecanism to justify themselves.   Just say back, "Yes that is a simple mistake.  And precise because it is simple, it is easy to solve.  Please read twice next time the document before you send it through."  The details do matter, a lot.  And perhaps you can add something like: "Just because I correct you on this mistake, it doesn´t take away the value of the essence of the work that you did.  You did a good job (of course only if that is really the case)."  That is very important to say either for a lower confidence level, a perfectionist, or a high achiever direct.  

Once I was positively commenting on a work from a direct and before I finished he said: "...but....".   That raised some red flags for me, he was already expecting my "constructive criticism".  I know he actually liked to work for me because I was always demanding more which gave him an opportunity to improve.  But I realised that day that it was a bit unfair.  The work was good and he deserved to celebrate it at least for a "48 hours" (or a couple of hours) before starting the hard work again.   So I learned not to mix positive and negative feedback.  Later on I learned from manager tools to avoid the word BUT.  What I now try to do now is give the improvement comments when the work is on the process and avoid them (when possible) once the work is done and there is nothing they can do about it.  

Be open with your directs, make sure they know what you think about them and their work.  Make sure they don´t confuse you demanding more with you not trusting and not liking their work.  And tell them openly that, just because you demand more is not that their work is not good, but we can always improve, all of us.  And make sure you know how they are.  What I mean is:  I worked for years with a very demanding boss (high C high D) who I knew through his actions liked my work but who would never say it with words.  For years I had no problems with it.  But when I went through a difficult period in my personal life I couldn´t take it.  I needed reassuring feedback then.  "Tune in" to your people.  That is not easy, but start with "Communication is what the listener does."  Think whether your directs are ready to listen to your comments. If your directs are not ready to take the advice, there is no point in even saying it.  One think you must do though.  If you don´t say it, learn to let the mistake go.

Regardless of what you do, we are (or should be) all grown ups capable of taking in criticism.  So don´t be harsh on yourself.  In my opinion there is nothing worse than indifference.  it is much better, to have a demanding and perhaps even over criticising boss than one that does not share or care.  


GlennR's picture


I'm going to go back to your original question. I am not referring to punctuation here.

Avoid minor isolated issues. Forgive those sins until they start repeating themselves and become trends. (I'm talking here about non-policy issues.)

No one is perfect. Today I moderated a webinar for 100 people. Someone in my department two levels down inadvertently posted something in the chat box which everyone saw, but which she intended for one person. It was benign to the point of only being a minor distraction. Knowing that she was mortified, I laughed it off afterwards.

If this repeated itself then I would have her supervisor step in.

I like to focus on trusting my staff, not on their transgressions. The more experienced and successful they are, the more forgiving I am of minor issues.

I don't want to sound trite here, but I treat them like adults. Too often I see new managers who don't trust their staff or don't allow them the opportunity to develop that trust.

You're a High C, most of your directs aren't. Give them the freedom to develop their own styles. Just because those styles are different does not necessarily make them wrong or less effective than yours.




dschreiber's picture
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Thanks for the thoughtful comments on this topic. I've continued to think about this topic (and probably will forever - hello high-C behavior). 

Glenn - I totally agree with not focusing on transgressions in a punitive way. I've worked very hard to be sure that if I see future behavior change I don't feel compelled to give feedback. Your example is a good one, the individual immediately recognized the behavior was a mistake and will likely self-correct.

I'm concluding that I continue to need to walk the line of giving meaningful feedback in the spirit of the person receiving it. I continue to believe that it makes sense to look at every opportunity for improvement as an opportunity for feedback. And, as I consider how to contextualize the impact making sure it's as meaningful to the listener as it is to me. I'm reminded of the podcast on tailoring feedback based on the DISC profile to be sure the impact is meaningful.

For example, missing a deadline may not be as important to a non high-C direct of mine as a stand-alone priority. But they may value very much that it erodes my trust in them that they're on task. Or they may value that I can't rely on them as a leader on the team if they're not hitting deadlines. I believe I can evaluate the impact in the context of the true relevancy for the individual and then consider the importance of sharing the feedback or letting it go.

Thanks again for the responses on this topic. I have a feeling I will continue to work to find a perfect solution here. ;)