How To Give Negative Feedback To A Dominant Individual
How to lead dominant team members is mystery for many managers. The situation gets worse when faced with the task of giving negative feedback to what is considered to be “difficult people.”
I share some practical steps with related case study extracts to guide you to effectively give negative feedback to dominant individuals.
Using my DISCerning Communication principles, persons who come across as dominant are placed in the red, Outgoing-Task-oriented quadrant of the DISC Framework. One foundation principle of DISCerning Communication is that we have four tool-kits to navigate through life and cope with its challenges. While we have access to all four tool-kits we tend to have preferences and it takes more energy and focus for us to use some of the tool-kits.
The four DISC tool kits are:
Dominance (D-Style) – direct, driven, determined, decisive, daring
Inducement (I-Style) – innovative, inspiring, inter-connected, influential, impulsive
Steadiness (S-Style) – steadfast, stable, supportive, service-oriented, single-minded
Conscientiousness (C-Style) – cautious, compliant, critical-thinking, consistent, curious
How to give negative feedback to D-Style behavior
Giving negative feedback to someone who has a preference for using the D-style is NOT as risky as you may think. One key is to be reflect on the context in which the feedback is framed.
I suggest that you use the competitiveness of the D-Style user as the starting point and position the feedback in the context of winning.
Re-state agreed objectives and related rewards and reinforce why keeping the feedback loop open facilitates winning. Achieving the objectives takes preeminence and all of us need to look beyond personal issues in our quest for success.
NOTE: It is important to ensure that the D-Style user has bought in to your objectives and is committed to its achievement.
Securing buy-in and vision alignment is the single most important key to effectively leading individuals who have a preference for the D-Style.
D operated a small family business. He had a major challenge in getting negative feedback from his employees. They interpreted his take charge approach as an indication that he did not want any interference. Some feared they would lose their jobs if they appeared to be criticizing D. Meanwhile, D lamented that he only had yes men in his employ. D knew that honest feedback was essential to getting a competitive edge.
Take care to present negative feedback in private. This should apply to all styles but is especially important for D-Style users. Think back from your time in school about the student that would endure punishment rather than back down in order to save face. I suggest that you avoid the issue of saving face by making sure that there is no audience.
D gets a visit from her boss. On leaving he stands at the open door and makes a comment in the hearing of D’s staff that she believes undermines her authority. D makes a decision right then to quit the job. She points out to the boss in the exit interview that his lack of respect for her was the primary cause of her leaving.
3. Pulling rank
Do not make the error of confusing a passionate attempt to challenge your conclusions and to justify their personal actions as a lack of respect or insubordination.
D-Style users will tend to put up a strong defense of their actions. They will tend to be animated in the discourse and this is often seen as dominating the conversation. Too many managers feel insecure at those times and seek the security of their positions to control the dialogue.
The interesting consideration is that more animated defenses are really a show of respect. The D-style recipient respects the person giving the feedback and desperately wants to correct the negative impression that they seem to have! Be more concerned if your negative feedback is accepted without any pushback. You probably have lost that D-Style team member.
The CEO decided to intervene directly after yet another employee was about to be sacked for insubordination by the same line manager. The manager had an old school approach that forbade “talking back”. The CEO figured that it would not be long before they would lose all their D-style employees.
Establish the underlying reason why negative feedback is necessary.
- If the D-style user is keen to win and is driven by achieving objectives, then why is there a deviation from that path?
- Are the instructions clear?
- Are the necessary resources in place?
- Is there an element of resistance and if so, what is the cause?
The D-style Plant Manager had developed an unorthodox but seemingly successful strategy for giving feedback to his under performing D-style staff. He would pull out a copy of the Organizational Chart and mark an X on it. He would write You are here beside the X. He then proceeded to explain what being here meant in terms of the performance requirements. He would close the interview by pointing out that the X would be erased if their performance did not meet the requirements. Most of the D-Style employees took a “Don’t test me” approach, comfortably exceeded the requirements and walked with a swag in the presence of the Plant Manager.
Take time to consider strategies for effectively giving negative feedback to D-style colleagues in situations that are directly related to your normal activities.
Discuss your ideas with a colleague.
Join me as the Training Magazine and Sales & Marketing Magazine sponsors my live webinar: “Is Your Coaching Truly Effective? Let’s Change That”. Thu, Jul 06, 2017 at 11AM Pacific / 2PM Eastern http://www.smmconnect.com/events/1157?gref=SMMCtwitter
Trevor E S Smith develops high performing teams and certifies leader-coaches using DISCerning Communication techniques. The Success with People Academy is the home of the revolutionary FinxS Platform from Extended DISC. Hire Smart, Conduct Employee Satisfaction Surveys, 360 Performance Evaluations and Team Reports using logistics-friendly technology.
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