I am looking for advice on how to develop a relationship with my direct who was once my manager.  

I have been recently promoted to a new position within my organization (Assistant Vice President), and my former boss now reports to me.  In our one on one meetings, he seems disinterested and a bit confrontational.  I am getting a lot of pushback from him in the form of vague disinterest or body language that impress upon me that he feels this is a waste of time (I know there's a cast for that). I can't tell if he is trying to test me or if he is annoyed that he has to report to me.  He doesn't really seem to want to share anything that is going on in his department.   It just feels like I'm trying to "pull teeth"! 

Back Story:  As his direct, I took the initiative to start weekly one on ones with him to ensure that he was getting a regular report from me (as prescribed by Manager Tools).  I also encouraged him to start doing one on ones with the peers in my department, which he did.     

Our Relationship: How did we get here?  Well, I took time to develop and maintain relationships with individuals throughout the organization. The VP and President of the organization saw how I interacted with those departments, and I know they valued how I was able to relate to others (the president specifically told me those exact words).  A little more background information, my boss is a High C and I am a High S.  We have worked together for several years, so I thought we had developed a "workable" relationship; however, I struggled with his "High C"-ness for many years (I credit MT for helping me understand how to improve how we interacted and thought we complimented each other very nicely).  I haven't tried to push him too hard, because I know this must be difficult for him (although, I do have certain initiatives I would like to see him move forward

So, I am really sort of flummoxed by this situation and how to restore a good working relationship with him.  Maybe the High S side of me is making too much out of this.  I also thought about asking him to come to our meetings with an agenda.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

pucciot's picture
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jaleraas's picture

I appreciate the links, TJ.  For many, it might seem like a dream come true; however, you correctly stated that t is a very uncompfortable situation.  I was able to glean from those casts some useful information. I also think that having an agenda (or a list of questions) for him will also be useful.  I'll have to go back and listen to some of those O3 casts again.

Warmest regards,


SuzanneB's picture

I was going to suggest the same casts as TJ. It's a tough spot to be in and probably your S-style does make you even more sensitive to it.

I would recommend really embracing the basics of the M-T O3. And if he doesn't have much for his 15 minutes, use yours to get the information you need. A few weeks of that and he'll either start figuring out to bring the info and present it up front or you'll have an opportunity for some feedback.

jaleraas's picture

Thanks, Suzanne.  I appreciate the feedback.  

Andrew J Baer's picture

I've worked through a similar situation in that I was new, had gone to school, and was young, but was over much more experienced and (in some cases) very bitter directs.  

The closest thing to a formula I noticed was I started off by recognizing that I'm in for at least 3 weeks (or 3 months) of some disgruntlement because I've been that guy before.  Then I told them I respect and expertise and, therefore, i'm going to trust them with more: they would be delegated to more, they would coach the other members, they would lead the big project.  In return, I always take advantage of any opportunity I had to acknowledge them publicaly and I made sure their ratings reflected their additional - provided they did it, of course.  If this failed to make headway, I steadily progressed in politeness and directness to some form of, "You're not meeting the standard so fix it."

Sounds like you're already on the right path and, if there's any personality type out there suited to this task, it might be the High S.  

Just keep in mind, nobody knows exactly how he feels and what the history of this is for him so be leary of coming off as patronizing when offering comfort.  The Feel, Felt, Found cast sounds rather appropriate here.  


jaleraas's picture

I have had a few meetings with this person since my initial post. I think this is great advice, and I'll have to revisit the Feel, Felt, Found cast. To be honest, I sort of transitioned into High D mode (as High D as a High S could be I suppose) by giving him specific tasks with deadlines etc. The unfortunate thing is that he, as the director of his department, has been classic High C, and I had been pushing to move the department forward. It is one of the reason I was recognized as an internal candidate. Now, I want him to start stepping up to be the face of the department (which he really wasn't), and I am not sure he is ready for the role. I'll have to go back to some of those great casts on coaching.