A reader writes:
I’ve obtained an odd state of affairs taking place with a male employees member on my workforce. I’m his boss and a girl. We’re related in age (I’m a few years older), and he has extra expertise in particular areas of his work than I do, and I’ve extra experience in different areas of his job description. When he brings concepts or strategies to me about areas of our work the place he’s clearly extra educated, I at all times reply with “nice thought” or “I by no means would have considered that — so glad to have your experience on this space,” and many others. Nonetheless, after I make strategies about methods he might broaden or develop within the areas of his obligations the place I’ve extra experience and information, he’ll ceaselessly reply with one thing akin to “I’ve already considered doing that precise factor in that precise method and simply didn’t inform you but.”
He doesn’t reply this fashion 100% of the time. For instance, if it’s an space we’re each a bit at midnight on and dealing to determine one thing new, I don’t get the “you’re not telling me something I hadn’t already considered” response to strategies. It occurs largely after I’m suggesting methods to take a mission additional or make it extra impactful. Nevertheless it’s taking place typically sufficient that I’m noticing the sample and feeling irritated by it.
Once I get the “I already considered that” response, I can’t assist however assume he’s mendacity. Whereas he does have good concepts, I’ve needed to have two conversations with him up to now about his productiveness ranges and my want for him to take full possession of initiatives (he’s in a director-level place). He tends to examine containers and simply obtain the duty whereas not, in my remark, totally participating together with his work.
Once I take into consideration why he’s responding this method to my strategies, I think about it’s one among two issues: he’s feeling referred to as out for not considering via a mission extra totally earlier than bringing an thought or a request to me or he’s devaluing my experience and expertise. He’s not rejecting what I’m suggesting, simply ensuring I do know he had gotten there on his personal. Possibly there’s one thing else happening?
I do know the one method to know is to ask him, however I’m fighting the best way to deal with it or if I even have to. A part of me thinks not less than he’s taking my strategies and implementing them. Who cares if he wants to inform me it was his thought, not mine? I’m safe in my place, have the whole belief of my boss (a person), and any undervaluing my worker might do is contained. If it’s a difficulty with my gender, I’ve different, extra necessary issues to take care of than enlightening him. But when I’m doing one thing to make him really feel that he has to make it clear he’s on the identical wavelength or there will likely be penalties, I’d prefer to cease doing that. That a part of me doesn’t need to really feel that I’m stressing him out and inflicting this conduct as a coping mechanism or method he feels he must handle me.
If I do want to deal with it, how? I’ll by no means get him to confess he’s not considered these items earlier than me or on the similar time (he 100% hasn’t), and I don’t even care. I simply need him to really feel okay with taking a suggestion and saying, “Certain, I’ll do this.”
Oh, I labored with this man! And sure, it’s actually annoying.
In any case, it doesn’t actually matter if he’s considered each suggestion you make if he hasn’t acted on it or raised it himself (or isn’t prepared to clarify why he determined to not). And yeah, you possibly can often inform when somebody is simply saying it to prop themselves up (though sarcastically, it has the alternative impact of what they intend and makes them look much less succesful than in the event that they hadn’t tried to assert they already had the concepts).
I do assume you’re proper to grapple with whether or not it’s one thing you actually need to deal with or not. I lean towards considering you need to, as a result of (a) if he is reacting to one thing about the best way you’re managing him, it’s value realizing that (except it’s simply that you simply’re, you already know, managing him whereas being a girl) and (b) in case you’re proper that he’s BS’ing you, it ties into the bigger considerations you’ve about his work — that he’s not approaching a director-level job with sufficient rigor and engagement.
So one choice is to simply say straight the subsequent time he does it: “I’ve observed after I recommend methods to take a mission additional or improve its impression, you inform me you’ve already considered these concepts. I don’t care a lot whose thought is whose or who thought it up first, however I need to be certain I’m not doing one thing that makes you’re feeling pressured to guarantee me you’re already there?”
Alternately: “I’ve observed after I recommend methods to take a mission additional or improve its impression, you inform me you’ve already considered these concepts. If that’s the case, nice — however I’d like to see you working with these concepts by yourself then earlier than I recommend them. What do we’d like in place to make that occur?”
Associated to that, it may be fascinating to say one of many subsequent instances it occurs, “Oh, nice! Was there a motive you hadn’t tried it — do you’ve considerations about doing it that method?” It’s a little bit of a entice for him as a result of, assuming he hadn’t actually thought it via earlier than this second, he’s not prone to have an important reply. The purpose isn’t to entice him, although; it’s to assist him understand that claiming he had your thought first isn’t a “freebie” because you’re going to then ask a probing follow-up about it, and so there’s a draw back to that response that he won’t have thought-about.
You additionally may attempt asking for his concepts first earlier than you provide your personal … which presumably will make it more durable for him to then reply with “already considered it” when you do provide yours.
However I believe you’re proper to be irritated, and likewise that your degree annoyance is calibrated accurately — it’s not the largest deal on the earth but it surely’s odd, and it’s in all probability a mark of One thing Larger.