The C Blind Spot

– Questions and Criticizes Too Much –

Consultations with companies often include some one on one time with managers who are challenged with their team’s dynamics.  One such meeting was with a talented woman whose challenge was turnover in her department.  When the President of the company was sharing his concerns about Ashley he said, “I’m either going to have to put in a revolving door to accommodate the turnover or let her go, which would kill me because she’s incredibly talented and creates exactly what I need.  In spite of the cost of the turnover I’d hate to see her working for someone else.”

Ashley’s department was responsible for creating all the copy for the company’s written material including marketing, web site, manuals, etc.  When I met with Ashley she explained the system she used with her department.  She would assign a staff member a project.  At that time she gave them a deadline for the submission of their first copy.  After she reviewed it she would then meet with them and assign necessary corrections and give them their next deadline.  The process repeated itself until the project was complete.  This was essentially the only interaction she had with her team.

Ashley had 3 of these meetings scheduled for the next morning.  I attended the meetings to observe the interaction between Ashley and her team.  It was immediately evident what was going on.  Ashley’s DISC Profile had shown that she was a high C.  She was focused, precise, and methodical – common strengths for the C Personality Style and great characteristics for a manager in her position.  Unfortunately, this was being combined with the C Blind Spot of Criticizes Too Much, making her review impersonal, cold and harsh.

In each meeting Ashley never once said anything positive about either the team member or the project.  She went straight for the challenges with each piece and assigned the corrections.  Her critiques dwelled on the negatives and her delivery did not show any enthusiasm for the material she was reviewing.  I watched 3 smiling, enthusiastic staff members walk into the room.  I witnessed 3 defeated human beings leave the room carrying a piece of work they felt was a failure.

When Ashley and I met to discuss my observations I asked her about the talent of her team members as I truly wasn’t certain she felt they were competent.  She expressed she was very pleased with their creativity and enjoyed the innovative ideas they brought to the table.

“Do THEY know that?”, I asked.

She looked at me and didn’t answer.  I could see her wheels turning in true C fashion as she mentally reviewed interactions with her team members.  “I don’t know” was the only answer she could express.

I explained to her it was likely they didn’t have a clue how talented she felt they were.  We reviewed her DISC Profile’s explanation of the C Blind Spot Questions and Criticizes Too Much.  We addressed “Criticizes Too Much” and agreed her critiques could use a more positive, people-oriented approach.  We made 3 adjustments to her review process:

  1. She would open her review by mentioning the portions of the piece that pleased her.
  2. After assigning the necessary corrections she would include a discussion allowing the team member to offer ideas and confirm they were clear with her requirements.
  3. Ashley would end the meeting expressing enthusiasm for the project.

I then mentioned the 2nd part of the C Blind Spot – “Questions Too Much” by saying I didn’t see a challenge there as I hadn’t noticed her asking many questions.  She laughed and said, “You should talk to the people who attend the management meetings with me before you make that assumption!”

We met again after one month.  She was very comfortable with the changes to her process and she was thrilled with the results.  Her team was completing their projects faster.  The amount of reviews per project had decreased.  She was comfortable with the discussion and found her staff used that time to offer some excellent ideas.  She said, “You know, I am certain their creativity is increasing along with their enthusiasm for their job.  There’s a different atmosphere in our department these days.”

Of course, I was thrilled and congratulated her.  I asked if she had experienced any other changes we hadn’t discussed.  She smiled as she said, “I’ve also applied some of these changes at home with my husband.  It’s working out very well.”


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