The Competency Index (CI) is a simple measure that gauges how deeply ingrained someone’s behavior might be. It enables you to determine which skills he or she is missing and which you will need to bring to the relationship in order to make it work.
Incompetent people tend to be set in their ways and may not appreciate the need for doing anything differently. It will be difficult to influence a change in their behavior, but there are practical steps to be taken that might make a difference.
Put your Doer hat on and imagine being faced with the challenges in this true-life story.
Level 1: Doesn’t Get It and Probably Never Will
You are working as a product manager for a major paper products company. Ed, your counterpart in marketing, is not providing the information your staff needs to do their job effectively.
The problem with Ed is that you hardly ever see him. His manner is usually cold and unapproachable and his office door is always closed. His comments at the task team meetings tend to be judgmental and fault finding. You get the feeling that he is totally insensitive to your needs.
You feel frustrated because Ed has made sure that he is the only conduit for information flowing upward to top management. He also never invites participation in any major decisions; in most cases, he has already determined the course of action to be taken and simply announces his decision at the weekly meeting.
You can appreciate that Ed’s cultivation of top management may be a good thing for his department. However, you feel that his lack of collaboration is making your staff feel resentful, frustrated, and demoralized.
In Ed’s case, you are certain that he is a Level 1 candidate because he is not interested in hearing anyone else’s view and he is not likely to have many insights of his own either. He truly believes he is right and he sees no reason to seek information from outside sources. So, before Ed’s mind can be changed, it must first be opened.
Still, before you decide the situation is hopeless, here are some steps that may help you get what you need from Ed:
- Arrange a mutually convenient discussion over lunch or after hours. Meeting in his office gives him control, so your best bet is to select a neutral site off campus.
- Ask him for his help in resolving a problem, in this case, departmental morale. For example, what can he do to involve himself more with your staff?
- Present the situation as factually and unemotionally as possible. Do not speculate on how others may feel or on what he needs to do.
- Avoid any direct criticism, since that will be counterproductive.
- If he challenges your assessment of the situation, do not waste your time arguing.
Let some time elapse and see if there is any change in behavior. If he does change for the better, arrange another meeting when you can provide new information, positive feedback, and encouragement. Be prepared to restate your position as if it were the first time.
If there is no change, you know that things are likely to continue as before. Taking the issue to a higher level, even with documented support, is really not an option. Ed is well connected at the top, so any complaints about him are likely to be ignored or backfire on you. So you either accept Ed or dust off your resume in preparation for a job search.