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  1. #1
    lab rat extraordinaire CrystalViolet's Avatar
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    Default Directive language and communication.

    My boss bailed me up the other day, saying I'm not directive enough in my speech, and that's why I have trouble with people doubting me and even questioning me when I'm in a position of authority.
    He even went as far to say it would get me in trouble out of work too, when I said I was not aware of how I phrase things (he's right though). I know my boss can be a complete arse sometimes, but he also has quite a lot of insight into people.
    I've never before had trouble exuding authority before, but then, I've never worked in a fairly male dominated town before, where extremely sexist behaviour prevails.
    In his own way, my boss is trying equip me with some new tools of communication, and make my way easier with the psycho nurses and doctors here.

    I know people have talked about typical speech patterns of INFPs before, and I'm very guilty of that way of talking, so how do I fix it? Has any one got any advice?
    Even when I think I'm being directive, apparently I'm not (my boss said my guilt trip inducing ways do not work here...I'm guessing because sublety is missed here.)

    I'm not asking to change my personality or anything, but I'm actually thinking this might be useful in life in general, like when I start my latest business venture.
    Currently submerged under an avalanche of books and paper work. I may come back up for air from time to time.
    Real life awaits and she is a demanding mistress.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalViolet View Post
    My boss bailed me up the other day, saying I'm not directive enough in my speech, and that's why I have trouble with people doubting me and even questioning me when I'm in a position of authority.
    He even went as far to say it would get me in trouble out of work too, when I said I was not aware of how I phrase things (he's right though). I know my boss can be a complete arse sometimes, but he also has quite a lot of insight into people.
    I've never before had trouble exuding authority before, but then, I've never worked in a fairly male dominated town before, where extremely sexist behaviour prevails.
    In his own way, my boss is trying equip me with some new tools of communication, and make my way easier with the psycho nurses and doctors here.

    I know people have talked about typical speech patterns of INFPs before, and I'm very guilty of that way of talking, so how do I fix it? Has any one got any advice?
    Even when I think I'm being directive, apparently I'm not (my boss said my guilt trip inducing ways do not work here...I'm guessing because sublety is missed here.)

    I'm not asking to change my personality or anything, but I'm actually thinking this might be useful in life in general, like when I start my latest business venture.
    Definitely. Your boss is absolutely right: There's a huge difference between doing it right and doing it wrong. For example:

    Wrong:
    "Could you do me a favor and sweep the floor for me?" (You should never ask a question--it invites argument or refusal)
    "The floor needs sweeping." (This doesn't identify who will do the sweeping; so it invites shifting the work onto others)

    Right:
    "Sweep the floor."
    "I need you to sweep the floor."
    "I want you to sweep the floor."
    "I would like you to sweep the floor."

    And so on.

    Also, it's not enough to tell a person to sweep the floor. You have to identify the full parameters of the job: When you want it done, with what tools, etc. When dealing with passive-aggressive workers, whatever you leave out will become the subject of a misunderstanding: "OMG, I didn't realize you wanted it done today!" Finally, make it clear that you intend to inspect the finished product. Thus:

    "I would like you to sweep the floor. I need it done right away. There's a broom in the supply closet. I have to run downstairs on an errand, but I'll be back in 15 minutes and I want the floor clean by then."

    I gave entropie some leadership advice in the thread "Being more decisive without becoming an asshole", starting on page 3: http://www.typologycentral.com/forum...asshole-3.html At the end of the thread, I suggested some reading materials. You probably should look into those books as well.

  3. #3
    lab rat extraordinaire CrystalViolet's Avatar
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    Fine line,
    This is good advice. It's also made me realise that I have been going about things in the wrong way entirely. I'm actually 2IC in my lab and my boss is actually pushing me toward applying for the next lab supervisor role that comes up. My brushes with leadership have not been pleasant, so I've been hedging. I don't feel I'm a natural leader, and my one stint running this lab was an unmitigating disater (in my mind), although my boss assured me it wasn't.
    And yes, some of my issues have been much the same as Entropies. One of my biggest issues is conflict mangment. My boss says I'm actually good at heading it off before it escalates for the most part, but he feels I'm far too appeasing and nice to the point I make myself look incompetent. Some thing he wants me to stop doing because he feels other people take advantage of this. I've heard "stop being so nice" so often this past month, I'm ready to beat my boss with the frikin' phone. Except he's right, because even though for the most part, people do back down, it greenlights certain personalities to absolutely rheam me.
    Currently submerged under an avalanche of books and paper work. I may come back up for air from time to time.
    Real life awaits and she is a demanding mistress.

    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrystalViolet View Post
    Fine line,
    This is good advice. It's also made me realise that I have been going about things in the wrong way entirely. I'm actually 2IC in my lab and my boss is actually pushing me toward applying for the next lab supervisor role that comes up. My brushes with leadership have not been pleasant, so I've been hedging. I don't feel I'm a natural leader, and my one stint running this lab was an unmitigating disater (in my mind), although my boss assured me it wasn't.
    And yes, some of my issues have been much the same as Entropies. One of my biggest issues is conflict mangment. My boss says I'm actually good at heading it off before it escalates for the most part, but he feels I'm far too appeasing and nice to the point I make myself look incompetent. Some thing he wants me to stop doing because he feels other people take advantage of this. I've heard "stop being so nice" so often this past month, I'm ready to beat my boss with the frikin' phone. Except he's right, because even though for the most part, people do back down, it greenlights certain personalities to absolutely rheam me.
    I know how it goes. Being a good supervisor is doable, but it takes some getting used to.

    Two additional useful tricks:

    1) When you give orders, people are going to sigh and make faces and groan and generally do their best to make you feel guilty or awkward about ordering them around. I find it's useful to adopt a persona: That of the slightly dim-witted, by-the-book cop on the beat. I just recite chapter and verse without really noticing or caring how they take it. And by the same token, I don't take it personally when they wrangle with me or get upset. I'm just the messenger, and it's too bad but everyone has to obey the law...

    That persona helps to stop things from getting too personal. There are other personas that one can use, but I like that one...

    2) Be quick to kick any tough calls upstairs to your boss. Don't agonize over any tough calls (for example, whether or not a subordinate's excuse might be legitimate or not) or try to handle cases of insubordination yourself. Especially while you're still a new supervisor, take any difficult calls right to your boss. The trade-off is this: You have to be more directive on your boss's behalf and bear the brunt when it comes to routine matters; but in return, your boss has to back you up and be there for you when things get dicey or unclear. It wouldn't be right of him to put a new supervisor in compromising positions or ask her to make difficult policy decisions on her own.

    They're his people and his lab, and he's responsible to the higher-ups for everything that happens. You're just standing in for him on the routine stuff.

    So talk with your boss, ask if he's going to back you up when needed, and then make liberal use of his services. Especially while you're still breaking in at a new position. Even better, ask if you can stop by for a few minutes toward the end of each day and just go over the day's events with him. If you're going to represent him to your subordinates, then you need to have a good rapport with him and a good understanding of how he wants things handled.

    [Edit:] As I understood entropie's posts, entropie was his own boss and therefore this second item didn't apply to him. But if you're a supervisor who also reports to a boss of your own, then you have to be able to manage *up* the chain of command as well as *down* it. You're in an intermediate position, and you should see yourself as a representative or a stand-in for your boss rather than as a top boss with overall responsibility.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    then there's my evil approach of things like "lets have YOU sweep the floor while I do this... ok?"
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  6. #6
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    I like giving multiple orders. "After you are done sweeping the floor I will need to you do *enter new task*."

    This works exceptionally well with children.

  7. #7
    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    The rationale behind Fine Line's advice is good. But there's a difference between how a man and a woman can get the cooperation from their staff. Unfair as it may sound, women need to coat their words a bit with please, thanks and any number of moderating phrases and tones. Otherwise you're going to get the maximum bitchy reaction from other women and need to continually watch your back. Men are easier to deal with, in that when they challenge your authority, it will be direct. Once you've settled the hierarchy issue with them, it's rare they come back for more unless they want your job and are prepared to take it. Or they've had enough and are ready to quit or be fired.

  8. #8
    Iron Maiden fidelia's Avatar
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    Generally, I've found that I've gotten the best responses by

    1) Connecting with the person before even attempting to direct them. Anything that induces a nod of agreement and a smile is good. You cannot connect only when you are going to direct either, or it becomes just a fake gimick to get people to do something and they will see through it. I worked at a really tough school and teachers were expected to make students take off their hats. This generally induced all kinds of disrespect and non-compliance. As I stayed longer, I realized that it is worth doing some homework to learn the people's names or something about them whenever possible. I found that by commenting on something they were interested in or asking a question, they much more readily would accept my direction in a non-confrontational way.

    2) Giving them some warning - look at what they are doing and put yourself in their shoes. Whenever possible, people will respond more readily if they feel you appreciate that they are busy too. Be specific in what needs to be done and when it needs to be done.

    3) Filling in the needed information to understand what is needed and why. Neither "Sweep the floor" or "The floor is dirty." is effective.

    Instead, something like "We have visitors arriving at 2:00. We need to have this place looking good by lunchtime, as there are a number of other jobs that also must be done before the people arrive. I need you to sweep the floor by lunch so that you are free to start on such and such a job."

    4) Thinking ahead! Anticipate your employees' needs and make sure that their time is not wasted by lack of preparing the appropriate materials for them to do their job or by unnecessary red tape. I often see managers doing work that their employees could easily good do, while they neglect jobs that are ones that their employees do not have the information or authority to take on.

    5) Showing appreciation when a job is done well. People will work hard for you if there is some kind of reward. If you treat good employees and bad employees in the same way, you frustrate your best employees and they either move on or lose morale.

    6) Making sure your request is necessary and that you actually use the effort being put in for something practical and then follow up on it afterwards. Requests you make should either result in you being freed to do something they cannot, you using the information they have gathered, or you addressing the issues that they uncover to make the organization more effective and efficient. These all require planning on your part and some corresponding work. If employees see you doing this consistently, they will be more willing to bring not only their presence, but their will and mind to the task.

    I have been requested to fill out endless paperwork as a teacher, tracking student behaviour etc supposedly so that we can deal with common problems throughout the school in a timely manner and so that we have a papertrail which ensures we follow through.

    More often than not, teachers spend an hour a day on reports or documentation that is never looked at again. In addition, those same administrators often don't follow up on problems their staff bring to them to solve (which the staff cannot themselves), and are not available to listen before negativity and demoralizatino has spread throughout the staff.

    This encourages employees to cut corners or ignore further requests, knowing that those in charge do not value the employees' time or put their efforts to some real use.

    7) Soliciting a good intention and giving the employee a sense of ownership.

    People need to know where you are leading them. They also need to feel personally invested and responsible or else they will only do what they should when you are right there. One way of making someone feel responsible is looking for their strengths and then putting them in charge of a small domain or a certain task. If they do well, reward them in some way (recognition, praise, more choice etc), so that there is a reason for them to put that extra effort in. Expect that they will do well, and make sure that they have the information and support needed to excell.

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