Sorry for the long post everybody - this one has been brewing for a long time. ;-)
[b]BLUF:[/b] I have been trying to use the DISC cheat sheet to help me work better with a coworker whose style is opposite to mine – but it’s been very frustrating and I’m nearing the end of my rope. I need tips to keep her “umbrella pokes” from annoying me so much, or I need someone to tell me when to cut my losses and fend for myself.
Ahh, it’s the classic story: I’m all D and I and have recently moved into a Team Lead role. My coworker is all S and C, and was hired to perform my old role. I’m not her boss but I’ve been training her for nearly a year as I slowly move into the new role (same group). The transition process has been lengthy and strained for several reasons – but most of the pain can be traced back to weaknesses in either her style or mine (Yes, D’s and I’s have weaknesses too, especially in the eyes of someone high in S/C!).
We are in a very fast-paced, highly complex internet environment that changes rapidly, sometimes without a lot of documentation…and that alone can be stressful for S’s and C’s. Shoot, I typically find change energizing, but my first year in this group nearly broke me. So I do understand that she’s stressed out and feels like she can’t get her footing – I do. If it’s frustrating for someone who loves change, how much more frustrating must it be for someone who doesn’t? Especially when the person training you talks fast, documents in bullet points rather than paragraphs, and gets frustrated when it now takes four one-hour meetings to talk through tasks that used to take 20 minutes.
Another large part of the problem is that when she does get stressed out, she has a pattern of getting downright nasty about it – to the point of berating someone loudly in the cubicle area and accusing them of not caring about their work, setting her up to fail, etc. I’ve worked hard over the past three years to build relationships with people throughout the organization, and three of those people have come to me asking not to work with her on future projects. Another handful have made casual comments like “geez what’s her problem today”? I do resent the fact that she has directed these outbursts at me several times, and I admit that some days it takes a lot of willpower for me to remain professional with. I’m not her manager but I know that she has received feedback about these outbursts at least twice. (And she got an affirming peer feedback from me on a day when I thought an outburst was coming but she controlled herself instead).
Stepping away from the situation a bit, I know that if I use the cheat sheet better, I can grease the wheels a bit – If I just slow down, try to prewire her when change is coming, try to spell out and interpret the impacts of the change in as much detail as I can, that she will feel more secure in the role, and her morale will improve…and probably reduce the likelihood of an outburst too. But quite honestly with my new workload I don’t have the time to do that, plus complete my normal responsibilities, and still have a home life I can be proud of. And deep down I don’t think it would solve anything long-term.
So a large part of me is tired of trying to make things work with her. I try to have empathy, to be a forgiving person and respect how difficult the position is for her, but the fact of the matter is – even without the outbursts – I just don’t feel like she’s in the right role, and I don’t feel like making her happier is really going to have a better effect on the business than if I spend my time on my other core responsibilities. Additionally, it grates me every time I have to do it – because I just can’t forget the way she has treated me in the past. At this point, working to improve her morale decreases mine.
I love all the aspects of this new Team Lead role – I get along well with the rest of the team, even though we are all pretty different, and aside from my relationship with this one person, I’m doing well at the job and want to stay in it.
Do I just need to grow up, suck it up, and continue to try to spoon-feed her what she needs, or do I focus on my other strengths in my new position and let her fail or succeed by her own doing?