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  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dolphin View Post
    This project is a study of long-term outcomes in pediatric epilepsy patients. It had already been going for 13 years by the time my co-worker and I stepped onboard a few months ago. There was no overlap between the previous research team and us, so we're basically having to figure things out as we go. Fun! I think that's a big part of my problem here - I know I need to try to structure things for my co-worker, but I'm still trying to figure everything out myself!

    As far as the morning/evening person thing goes, we're lucky in that this job has a flexible schedule. It has to be flexible because our study patient contact is all over the phone and we are to call people at their convenience. (And while that sounds great in theory, personally I find it maddening because it seems like work is never done. We always have a stack of calls we each have to make, people it's hard to reach and who just stay in the ever-present to-do pile... I think you can imagine that, having pretty strong J, this drives me nuts...)

    My co-worker and I did have a good talk today though. We talked about some of the difficulties we've been having doing the patient calls (and shared some particularly positive interactions we'd had as well), I spelled out what I see us needing to accomplish next week and exactly on which day I see us doing what, and I asked him what I could do to help him. He did say that he finds it really helpful when I give him lists and tell him exactly what I need, so I will do that.

    I still hold out hope that, once we've been doing this for a while, it will all be second nature and we will work like a well-oiled research machine!

    LD
    Hi LD,

    (Warning: Long message ahead.)

    I trained and supervised lots of Sensor subordinates in the military, and it's not that tough once you get the hang of it. For starters, as everyone else suggested, make things as concrete and/or linear as possible. For example:

    If you need your assistant to type up a certain routine report in a standardized format, then give him a couple of past reports from previous periods to use as examples. That gives him something concrete as a starting point.

    Another example: If you need your assistant to follow a certain procedure, then type him up a checklist of specific steps to follow with room to fill in information and/or check off completed items.

    These are good supervisory tools. If he doesn't follow format on the report or he skips steps on the checklist, it's going to be easy to spot the error and point it out to him. They are also good supervisory tools because they force you as the supervisor to clarify what you want done and how, and to foresee and provide the necessary tools to get the job done. Unless your assistant has prior experience and expertise at a task, you can't just give him an assignment and tell him to figure out how to do it himself. He is going to have different priorities and ideas from you on how to do the job, so inevitably you're not going to get what you want. As a supervisor, it's your job to figure out for yourself how you want the work done and train/instruct your assistant properly. You're responsible for the final product, so the burden's on you to dictate the format and procedures. Drawing up procedures and formats for specific tasks will force you to be specific and clear about what you want accomplished.

    Other supervising tricks:

    Let's say you tell your assistant to type up a report in a standardized format, and you've given him some previous reports of the same type to serve as concrete guides on how to do the report. First off, give him a deadline for completion of a report. Since he's a P, that's pretty much absolutely necessary. When he's done, review the report. Inevitably, there will be some mistakes because he'll prioritize formatting elements differently from you and take shortcuts on some aspects that you may think very important. So mark up the report with a red pen showing where the errors are, sit down with him and show him the changes you want made (using the previous reports to provide a concrete example of the correct way to do things), and then give him the report back and have him make the changes. Give him a new deadline for the changes, and review the report again when he's finished and red pen it again as necessary. Keep having him make changes until he gets the work right.

    A couple key features in this process: 1) When you find errors, don't finalize the report yourself. Make sure he makes the changes himself. That's how he learns and remembers. 2) Don't hang over his shoulder and do the work or the changes with him. You want him working independently as much as possible. If it's a short task, the only time you want to see him is at the beginning of the task when you give him the assignment and at the end when you review his work. (And of course you want to be available if he has questions.) If it's a long project, you should establish some intermediate deadlines and review stages to see if he's staying on schedule and check that he's following procedures right. But aside from those instances, you want to stay away from him in order to avoid the impression that you're hanging over his shoulder or checking up on him constantly. The process of review and returning his work for changes is inevitably a tough one for his ego, and it will add insult to injury if you're demonstrating a lack of trust by constantly hovering over him and watching everything he does.

    Also, make sure he's clear that you're the boss and have the right to set deadlines, enforce them, review his work, turn it back to him, etc. You don't have to be accusatory or tough on him when he makes mistakes. Just remind him that you are responsible for the final product, so you have to have the final say on how it's done. And it's his job to keep doing it until it's done right.

    By the way, I wouldn't call him a co-worker. Use "assistant," "intern," "subordinate," "direct report," or whatever you want. It's not derogatory. It's just a reminder that you have the final say over what happens in the office. He may in fact have expertise in some areas and may be able to teach you some things. That's fine. You don't have to treat him like an idiot. But if you're supervising him properly, then that means you're giving him orders, setting deadlines, and turning back his work on a daily basis. So your titles should reflect your additional responsibilities. Don't send mixed messages by feigning an artificial equality that isn't really there in practice.

    Over the longer term, figure on training him hard on one new procedure or routine report per week. And once you start training him on it, make sure he always does it from then on. Just set deadlines and review his work each time he does the task, until you're absolutely certain he has it down perfect. Ultimately you want to reach a stage where you can take a vacation and he can keep the office running at least with regard to all the routine tasks. Policy decisions remain your responsibility, of course. But if you supervise and train correctly, there's no reason he can't handle all the routine stuff himself.

    Just to try to close up here:

    It may sound like I'm treating Sensors like real idiots here, with all this talk of step-by-step training. But actually they only need supervision (and lots of it) at the earliest stage. Meanwhile, they're sharp and they notice and retain details. Eventually, once they've picked up enough procedures and responsibilities around the office and start to feel a sense of ownership of the tasks, things will click for them. They're noticing and inputting information of their own, on top of what you're teaching them, and one day you'll see that they're actually more expert on the office functions than you, and furthermore they've imbibed the philosophy of the office enough that they can even handle and design new projects on their own.

    But sometimes it takes a fairly long period of good supervising and training to get them to that point. And you're the one who has to do the initial work. You can't just wind them up and set them to work. You have to concretize what you want done in the office (create specific tasks, define the procedures by which they are carried out, and specify exactly how the results should look at the end), and then you have to enforce deadlines and monitor the quality of your assistant's work. You have to be willing to be the boss and deliver bad news occasionally.

    Also, realize that you may have to accept some compromises on quality of work. No matter how much you dog the assistant, you're probably not going to get him to do things exactly the way you would do them. So in order to complete the process of handing off a task to him and finishing up training on that task, you should be willing to accept some strategic compromises on quality. Don't insist on perfection. That's part of the process of delegation of authority and responsibilities--if you give a task to someone, to some degree you have to let them have some discretion over how they do the work. Besides, you can always do some additional quality control training at a later date. Right now, it sounds like you just need to get some tasks off your desk and onto his desk, even if it means you have to make some compromises on quality for that to happen.

    That's just my own experience, of course. Hope that helps. Good luck!

    FL

  2. #12
    Senior Member "?"'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dolphin View Post
    I'm an INFJ and he's an ISFP.
    Why do you believe this person to be ISFP would be my first question, however it's irrelevant because type has no bearing on whether someone is capable of doing a job. I would be very careful about bringing type into this equation.
    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dolphin View Post
    I would love some input as to what types of explanations work best for an ISFP...how can I make what needs to be done clear?
    I was just discussing job classifications with someone yesterday. For the sake of cross training and downsizing, companies sometimes take the essential job functions of two unrelated positions and group them together under one job title. As a result, you may find someone who is successful at one part of the job, and lacking in the other aspects, or vice-versa.

    Depending on how crucial these essential job functions are and how much time is spent on doing the essential job functions, it may be necessary to have a position analysis completed.

    Type is good for entertainment purposes, however when you begin to make crucial decisions for a company, based on these systems, you are flirting with a potential lawsuit. You may as well ponder whether the person is incapable of doing their essential job duties due to their race, color, gender and so on......

  3. #13

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    First, thank you for your thoughts, advice and tips. FineLine, the supervisor tricks you outlined sound like really good tools, particularly the idea of creating checklists for various procedures and providing concrete examples. I think I'll roll up my sleeves and get working on that this weekend. You also make a very good point about clearly defining the working relationship here.

    "?", to be clear, I see him as being entirely capable of doing the essential duties of his job, I'm simply seeking some guidance on how to improve my communication with him, particularly during this training period. It's clear to me that I'm not coming across clearly to him...and I absolutely see that as my problem. I'm recognizing in myself the tendency to be rather vague at times and I know I must be exasperating to him.

    Oh, and the ISFP identification came from him during a conversation we had about our extraverted spouses. Apparently he took the MBTI during a group training at some point (as did I).
    LD

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by "?" View Post
    ...Type is good for entertainment purposes...
    I disagree. My initial exposure to MBTI was in a three-day leadership seminar at my workplace. The seminar taught us to use MBTI as a leadership tool in exactly the context that Laughing Dolphin raised: "How do I communicate better with my subordinates?"

    MBTI is an important management and leadership tool; a lot of books have been written about how to apply MBTI in the workplace. So I don't see anything wrong with the discussion that has taken place here so far.

    Naturally, MBTI shouldn't be abused in the workplace. But the same can be said of any management or leadership tool. It's taken for granted that leaders should use all their leadership tools with a good dose of common sense and discretion. MBTI is no different from any other management tool in that respect.

    Quote Originally Posted by "?" View Post
    ...type has no bearing on whether someone is capable of doing a job...

    ...You may as well ponder whether the person is incapable of doing their essential job duties due to their race, color, gender and so on...
    LD didn't raise the issue of capability.

    I raised the issue of capability, but only in an affirmative sense. I was simply trying to say: "The guy is presumably intelligent enough (IQ-wise, that is; independent of personality type) to do at least the routine stuff in the office. So get more aggressive about your supervision and training and make that your minimum training goal: to get him up to speed on the routine stuff so that you can take a vacation or go on emergency leave without the office falling apart in your absence."

    I don't think anyone in the thread has raised the issue of whether ISFPs are capable of doing office work. At most, we've only discussed whether office work is a strength or preference of theirs in the framework of MBTI. IOW, is it something they naturally love and excel at, or will they need some hands-on training to get them onboard and up to speed? The same questions could be asked about an ENTJ office assistant or an ENFP office assistant.

    And in fact LD has only asked specifically about communication issues between Ns and Ss. Communication is one of the primary (and most legitimate) applications of MBTI in the workplace.

    Quote Originally Posted by "?" View Post
    ...I would be very careful about bringing type into this equation...
    Just for the heck of it, as far as my own previous post goes:

    If the personality types were reversed and LD had been a Sensor who was asking how to handle an iNtuitive subordinate (or if LD had been a man asking how to handle a female subordinate), I would have written almost exactly the same post in response: Provide specific examples of the final product and of the processes used to get to the final product; stand aside and give your subordinate breathing room while he or she is doing the work; review the final product when it's done; and set some specific training goals and don't be afraid to be the boss and nudge the assistant to meet the goals; but at the same time, give the assistant some discretion to customize the work a bit to suit their own tools and temperament.

    Most of the posts earlier in the thread covered the standard territory on MBTI-based differences between Ns and Ss. So I focused on basic leadership techniques that are pretty much universally applicable for bridging just about any communication gap and getting a new subordinate up to speed in a new office. It sounded to me like LD was being a little too hands-off and hoping the assistant would just pick things up through osmosis. So I suggested that LD get a little more hands-on and do some genuine training and supervising.

    Where my post talked about Sensors in particular, that's just because LD's subordinate is a Sensor. It made my post more directly pertinent to LD's particular situation. But you could really take most of my post and substitute just about any adjective in place of the word "Sensor." [shrugs shoulders]

    Keep in mind that two of the most important things a leader can have are personal maturity and good communication skills. MBTI also deals heavily with both those things. As a result MBTI and good leadership skills have a lot of overlap. When talking about the workplace, discussions about MBTI can easily be converted into discussions about good leadership in general, and vice versa.

    Just my own opinion, of course.

    FL
    Last edited by RDF; 06-16-2007 at 05:30 PM.

  5. #15
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by laughing dolphin View Post
    I'd really appreciate some insight/advice/whatever. I recently started on a new grant and I am having a bit of a hard time with my one and only co-worker (I'm the manager here, so I guess "co-worker" isn't the right term...). I'm an INFJ and he's an ISFP. He's absolutely great at talking to people one-on-one, which is a large part of his job (doing phone interviews), but anything that involves organizational skills, independent thinking, or problem solving seems to require a lot of direction. I think it may be that I'm just not explaining it well...but, of course, what's in my head makes perfect sense to me! I would love some input as to what types of explanations work best for an ISFP...how can I make what needs to be done clear?
    LD
    organizational skills = J property

    independent thinking = N property

    problem solving = NJ property

    can you make what needs to be done clear?

    No.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wildcat View Post
    organizational skills = J property

    independent thinking = N property

    problem solving = NJ property

    can you make what needs to be done clear?

    No.
    That sounds to me like far too rigid a concept of MBTI. Especially in the workplace.

    In my experience, the workplace tends to be the great equalizer. People learn to work with other types, pick up some new skills outside their areas of normal strength, and move beyond the narrow stereotypes of their MBTI letters and personality types.

    But particularly at the earliest stages with young employees, it can be a bit of a struggle at first. Youth = inexperience = not much habit of stretching beyond their MBTI stereotype. So it helps to have some good leadership on the part of the boss, and also (ideally) a willingness on the part of the young employees to stretch themselves a bit and take on some new tasks outside their usual area of preference or competence.

    Again, that's just my own experience.

    FL

  7. #17
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    That sounds to me like far too rigid a concept of MBTI. Especially in the workplace.

    In my experience, the workplace tends to be the great equalizer. People learn to work with other types, pick up some new skills outside their areas of normal strength, and move beyond the narrow stereotypes of their MBTI letters and personality types.

    But particularly at the earliest stages with young employees, it can be a bit of a struggle at first. Youth = inexperience = not much habit of stretching beyond their MBTI stereotype. So it helps to have some good leadership on the part of the boss, and also (ideally) a willingness on the part of the young employees to stretch themselves a bit and take on some new tasks outside their usual area of preference or competence.

    Again, that's just my own experience.

    FL
    Only in Maryland.

    WC

    Post Scriptum

    Stick to Baltimore

  8. #18
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    yes! lists help tons. has he been taking notes? i think it's better if you give him lists though, this way he doesn't get confused on what you were expecting from him. just encourage him to ask you questions and emphasize on the deadlines. i can see him being a bit scatter brained, i know i am at times haha. i think he's lucky to have a co-worker willing to get to know him better and help him be more efficient


  9. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by FineLine View Post
    I trained and supervised lots of Sensor subordinates in the military, and it's not that tough once you get the hang of it.
    That's awesome! Man, do I wish I'd had you as a supervisor in several of my previous jobs. I actually considered going military, but I've got messed up knees which ruled that out.

    Having supervised some IxFP types I second what you've said--especially the need for clarity, lists, and well-defined tasks/deadlines.

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