Hi everyone. BLUF: I have a problem (new former peer direct takes a long time over every conversation, meeting, task) that I know the Trinity could eventually solve, but some complications mean that it will be many months before we can get anywhere. I don't want to skip the Trinity rollout, it's there for a reason, but some change has to happen now.

Irony alert: this post is long and detailed, feel free to skip it if you don't like that stuff :-) I toyed with the idea of cutting this post right down but without these details the post would have been 'what should I do?' 'roll out the Trinity!'. Thanks in advance for your time if you read on. I needed the therapy!

I have a new direct, a former peer, high C (database/CRM specialist, valued skills, good at what she does, hard working), who takes too long/has no 'detail filters' whenever she talks to anyone. She doesn't yet see me as her manager, more as still a peer who happens to have line management of her. She's been here longer than me (13 years vs 10). She is an external processor and often wants another manager (often more than one) to hear all the things she's working on so that they can make the decision for her (ready, aim, aim, aim)....

Previous managers have most often gone along with what she's said we should do, maybe with the odd adjustment, as she's the one with the skills, but she wants them to have all the information and go through the process so she's not the only one deciding.

If you bump into her in the hall, it can be 30 minutes. A 30 minute meeting is always 90. When she needs input from other teams, she'll call a meeting with all of them. There's some glacial momentum that seems to stop all of us from being able to say 'hey, we don't have time for this' but now it's my problem to deal with.

She's part time/school term time only, the only one in her role. She always feels like there's too much to do.

I have 1 other direct, and have been managing for 1 year, absorbing the MT casts and practising with him. Recently my new direct (let's call her Claire) was moved between departments and her role makes more sense under me now.  

I know the Trinity is the long-term answer. There are some complications though. I have only just managed to get her to agree and schedule regular O3s (she said she doesn't have time for them!). A slow rollout of the Trinity, combined with her term-time only schedule, means that I'm looking at December before I can move onto any kind of adjusting feedback.

I will go crazy by then. Every O3, every project meeting, every time she wants to talk at our new desks (yes, now she's sitting with us) about what she's doing... will suck the time out of me. Knowing that I need to do something bothers me when I'm trying to sleep. 

I know I need to do something, but I can't decide what, or how. I'm a high C (can't decide what to do) and high S (don't want to hurt anyone's feelings) and fairly shy. Yes, I know I'm doing exactly what she does about decisions! 

She has no 'boss fear' of me - not so I could use it, but she doesn't seem to give any weight to my time. She gives me work especially when she is off, so I don't even get the respite of her not being there. I like her, but everyone knows that a conversation or meeting with Claire means you may never be seen again that day.

What I ultimately want to get to is this: 

  • Get much better at telling her/people I have a certain amount of time
  • Get Claire to pre-filter what she needs to tell me and others
  • Get her to trust her own decisions, because we all do
  • 'Make' her understand that this is her job, not ours - we can still support her without going through every step with her
  • Get her to come to me/others with recommendations not the whole problem if she's stuck on a decision
  • Get our O3s to stick to time (and see if I can work on other meetings)
  • Keep rolling out the Trinity at an appropriate rate for her work pattern
  • Eventually get to feedback and hope that she will take it from a 'peer'

How do I actually do it?


Kevin1's picture


I have a direct of a direct who is a bit like that.

What I do when he starts ramping up for a ling explanation is say something like 'I can see you've done a lot of research on this and have no doubt deliberated on our options. What do you think we should do?'
I may have to ask 'AND what do you think we should do?' Several times before I get the answer. Most of the time I can simply say, 'ok. Do that'. But at least we cut to the chase a lot quicker.

It is a little pinch at first. But he now knows it is coming and can even say the words for me.

Hope that helps a bit

Kevin1's picture

I forgot to cover saying 'I trust your judgement' when he starts to push back.  And if he genuinely has no ideas, ask him to 'spend the next hour determining the best option given the available information and time.  It doesn't have to be perfect'.

Hope that helps



Doris_O's picture

I'm in a similar situation in respect to rolling out the Trinity, but different circumstances. I really like Kevin1's suggestion of "What do you think?" and "I trust your judgement". Based on what you've said, it will probably be a  good interim and long term response/solution while the trinity is still rolling out.