Why play roadside psychologist when we don’t even understand the roadsigns?

Recognize this conversation?

Manager: You’re a really good person and we really like you, but unfortunately you’re just not following directions or completing tasks correctly. Plus, it’s taking you an inordinate amount of time to complete incorrectly no matter how much instruction we give you. Per your last review not much has changed.

Employee: I feel I completed everything correctly. It took longer because your instructions were confusing. It’s not my fault because you couldn’t explain yourself.

Manager: [Takes deep breath] But you didn’t complete everything correctly, and we’ve been over this again and again. I’ve even given you explicit written instructions that everyone else on the team can follow. Except you.

Employee: Well, I agree to disagree.

Manager: [Mouth open] You what?

Employee: I agree to disagree. That’s my prerogative. I’ve been here longer than you and have always had stellar reviews until you came on board.

Manager: But–

Employee: Are we through? I have work to do.

Manager: You can’t agree to disagree.

Employee: [Fuming]

Manager: Listen, just relax and go back to work. We’ll talk more later, okay?

Oh my. There’s a lot going on there. This is a similar conversation to what I had a couple of years ago with an employee. One that was repeated multiple times over the course of his tenure.

If I would’ve known he was a high “D” and I a high “I” in DISC, then I could’ve better adjusted my behavioral communication style and —

High “D”? High “I”? DISC? WTH?

It’s bad enough that as leaders, HR professionals, managers and supervisors we have to play roadside psychologist from time to time to try and decipher an employee’s rationale and irrational behavior, try to help them understand where and why they’re underperforming, try to help them better perform, to lastly delve into complete avoidance behavior giving them passing performance reviews instead of doing what we really should be doing.

Firing them.

But that’s another issue all together. Why play roadside psychologist when we don’t even understand the behavioral roadsigns? Don’t we have enough to do running our teams, departments, boards, businesses and families for goodness sake?

Wouldn’t it be great if we had fairly accessible and reasonably priced behavioral assessments, training and interpreters that would not only help us better understand our employees behavior, but our own as well?

For example, you’ve got:

I know, budgets and time are tight these days; we’re too busy working to keep our heads above water.

But consider the difference between making a small investment to improve you and your organization’s management ability and the bottom line with better communication and behavioral understanding with and of your employees — and shooting from the hip.

I’ll take the former, please.


3 thoughts on “Why play roadside psychologist when we don’t even understand the roadsigns?

  1. Hi Kevin, excellent points! Chances are that when a manager plays roadside psychologist and thinks she has someone all figured out – she’s wrong. Assessments like the ones you mention are a great way to have the conversation about “how can we best work together”?

    In fact, my personal favorite, MBTI, has a side-by-side report that will compare preferences between two people. Yes, these things cost money; not just for the assessment but for the cost of a consultant who is trained in these things. This expense is insignificant compared to firing someone and then having to deal with the huge expense of hiring someone else.


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