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Discussion Starter #1
Hello ISFPs.

I need help on how to deal with a fellow member of your type. He is my ISFP manager. I am an ENFP female.

We both work in an analytics+people relationship industry. We develop products that real people eventually use, but the products have to function in a technically challenging (limited) environment.

The issue that I need your help on: My manager and I have different working styles and I need to know how to resolve/mitigate them in an amicable manner.

The people in the picture
His focus:
* Visual appeal of the product
* Whatever is 'good enough for now' (get it done with quickly and move on to newer things)
* What people have asked for in the past ("people may ask for anything in the future; how do we plan for such a vague thing?")
* Keeping bosses pleased
* Reactive, quick decisions
* Severely averse to schedules (but good with being available for spontaneous requests)
* Manages customer communication very diplomatically (knows to weave words that make a bad thing sound alright)
* Gut-feeling based product design
* Very visual in understanding and communication
* Manages team based on past record - those who have done well in the past will be continued to give the work. Finds it baffling that new people can contribute pretty quickly in a new system too! Unwilling to delegate much or empower much because of this hesitation
* A very good listener when there are emotional issues. Reluctant to proactively taking steps (especially those that require standing up to bosses) to help the team. Tries to be diplomatic and buy time endlessly.
* A great support when it comes to granting flexibility from the rigours of the system; but not so good at maintaining records, schedules and processes.

My focus:
* Systematic robustness of the product (good architecture, long-term maintainability and extensibility)
* What we will need in the long run (if they are going to possibly want in the future, let us prepare for it now)
* What people have asked or in the past + what they are likely to ask for in the near future + what the competition already has
* Keeping the systems intact and robust
* Proactive, considered decisions (takes longer to get to decisions)
* Don't really like schedules much either, but will plough down and do it anyway for the sake of the job. :)
* Manages customer communication with directness and transparency (inform them early of risks, keep expectations manageable)
* Brainstorming- and ideation-based product design
* Systemic and numerically oriented in understanding and communication - visuals are unimportant to me and I am happy to let someone else decide on what 'looks' right. :)
* Directly manage my team by empowering people from an early stage and willing to let them make mistakes. Hate to micro-manage, but will manage tasks because that is how the individuals in the team will develop themselves. Very people-focused, almost to a fault.
* Reasonably OK with dealing with the team's emotional issues. Average in proactively taking steps (especially those that require standing up to bosses) to help the team. Will stand up to a boss, but cannot stand up to an aggressive boss for very long. Not much of an influencer when it comes to dealing with strong opposition.
* Keep schedules religiously because I know that if I don't get my act together with processes, I will fail and I work hard to overcome this natural weakness. However, I too provide my team a lot of flexibility so long as they are accountable and sincere with their work.

Issue:
* He sees me as an upstart threatening his position, so he is increasingly getting edgy and political. I hate politics and don't know how to play that game at all. I would sooner quit than get political.
* He is very cagey about sharing information because he believes that only the people who need it should get it; even when the other team members need it for speaking to customers, he won't share it upfront, choosing to reveal it by himself to the customer directly during the meeting.
* My insistence on a sane technological approach to products has endeared me to the technology folks who were struggling earlier to communicate with him. This has alienated me further from him.
* His lack of organization and early risk mitigation causes a lot of last-minute fires, which are all avoidable in everyone else's eyes. He, I feel, enjoys being the hero under the circumstance, staying back with the team all through the night, buying them donuts etc.. I, on the other hand, would want everyone to go home at 6! :D If we plan better, we can all avoid a lot of last-minute stress - that's my attitude, but he probably sees that as slacking.
* All my deliveries have happened on time and with minimal fuss and I got noticed for it within a year of joining. I always credited him for the support he gave me, but I don't know if this is causing a problem.

My intention:

* I want to work harmoniously with him, because he is basically a good human being who is very helpful to many. He just doesn't focus much and gets distracted easily. I can help him, but he has to cooperate. But he never admits his mistakes... If he could let go a bit, we would run the team well and he can even take all the credit! But I don't know how to make this smooth harmony happen. His boss won't intervene because he is an old-timer and cannot be questioned (various deeper considerations, apparently, exist, I am told).

Please help me with tactical steps and suggestions.
 

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I had this really long reply to you based on MBTI type and all that. But it didnt make sense. Really, I can't make sense of your situation from an MBTI perspective. It feels like the ISFP is behaving like a classical ISFP and its you who are a little not very ENFP.

I didnt realize ENFP's care about schedule, robustness, architecture. Very interesting. Would be interesting to work with a ENFP who gave all those some value. Here is my experience - one ENFP person who reported to me - didnt complain, got the job done, very effecient, very thorough, very nice. downsides - lack of prioritization or triage, not really looking to learn new things, just wanted to work the requisite 7.5 hours and go off and enjoy the evenings.

All fine with me, but just sayin'. I think you will grate on an ISFP nerves - especially one who flies by the seat of his pants and likes to work late nights with pizza and all that.

So how do you manage him - i really think you have too look at it as - how can you assuage his sense of diminishment of self. perhaps what you need to do is - do your thing and leave when you need to. Dont wait around fighting fires. Let him do that since he likes it. If your team wants to do that, let them do that as well. You can only control your behavior. But...in this scenario you have got to get your shit done.

ok, i may think of some other things, but this is really an odd situation.

Have you tried Scrum?
 

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I'd straight up tell him what you want. Take him aside and have a talk with him about your issues, if he's a good boss he'll be happy to. Try to make the talk very focused and to the point, without criticism of his leadership, if possible. Over time have more and more focused talks with him and I think he will be more comfortable listening. It will take a while to get through from what you said, but it's definitely do-able as long as building a team is your goal.
 

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I'd either find another job or let go of the idea of managing up. but I am not either of your Myers Briggs types.

I would think that the only way to effectively work for someone who is threatened by you is to train yourself to fit into the space they want you to occupy. The other option is to play politics, but you say you are bad at that. Those of us who are bad at games probably shouldn't attempt them when the stakes are high.. Plus workplace politics are bullshit and people should knock it off.

I'd also head over to askamanager.com on a friday and ask this question there, minus the Myers Briggs stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'd either find another job or let go of the idea of managing up. but I am not either of your Myers Briggs types.

I would think that the only way to effectively work for someone who is threatened by you is to train yourself to fit into the space they want you to occupy. The other option is to play politics, but you say you are bad at that. Those of us who are bad at games probably shouldn't attempt them when the stakes are high.. Plus workplace politics are bullshit and people should knock it off.

I'd also head over to askamanager.com on a friday and ask this question there, minus the Myers Briggs stuff.

THIS is one of the reasons that I, as an ENFP, always keep a set of TJ friends around me. They give direct instructions on how to handle a problem and by God, they have clear answers (closure-orientation)! :) I keep going round and round with pros and cons, finding it difficult to decide one way or the other, especially where the matter has a strong emotional component to it.

Thanks for this post. It helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'd straight up tell him what you want. Take him aside and have a talk with him about your issues, if he's a good boss he'll be happy to. Try to make the talk very focused and to the point, without criticism of his leadership, if possible. Over time have more and more focused talks with him and I think he will be more comfortable listening. It will take a while to get through from what you said, but it's definitely do-able as long as building a team is your goal.
Thank you. I appreciate your taking the time to reply positively, especially since I am effectively complaining about one of your kinsmen. I have sat the ISFP manager down a few times. He does seem receptive to those, so you are correct there. He does take some corrective actions too. However, when it comes to HIM doing stuff on a schedule and with some level of reliability, focus and completeness, it becomes a real problem. He doesn't want to face that; he doesn't want to solve it. So, I am basically fighting a battle trying to make someone do something that he has decided is NOT worth doing at all.

But I shall continue to the best of my ability. My intentions are extremely honest, but the possibility remains that my actions will start to look very soon like he is being incompetent and I am telling my boss how and when to do things! :O Oh well, let time play this out...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I had this really long reply to you based on MBTI type and all that.
Ahh, I wish I could have seen that original version. :)

But it didnt make sense.... <snipped> its you who are a little not very ENFP.
I completely understand. I wasn't so structured in the past and it is definitely not my natural mode of operation. However, I have a tertiary Te, remember? By middle age, after some early-career mistakes, I learnt my mistake and noticed that the root cause of most problems was my lack of organization. I also realized that many of my childhood successes were because I was enabled in my organization of tasks and priorities by some very J parents. :)

It took me several years and even now, it is a low-power skill, but I have come a long way in the way I manage my professional life. Hope that explanation helps.

Basically, Tertiary functions are what we often focus on in mid-life. Building it gives a sense of security, I have read. In my case, it is applicable. I feel very secure when I have my act sorted.

I didnt realize ENFP's care about schedule, robustness, architecture.
The first, I have explained above.
The second and third: the credit goes to a scientist father who put that idea into my head since childhood. And then, a great university and wonderful teachers who made Computer Science a fun, fruitful thing to engage in. :)


Very interesting. Would be interesting to work with a ENFP who gave all those some value.
ENFPs in Engineering or the pure Sciences often are quite structured in their thinking. Oddly enough, even a lot of English Litt grads, I have seen, show an innate ability to think critically and present coherently. Of course, I am definitely not implying that having a degree or not is any real, reliable indication of ability to think or any such thing! :) These are just my observations from my very small sample set.

Here is my experience - one ENFP person who reported to me - didnt complain, got the job done, very effecient, very thorough, very nice. downsides - lack of prioritization or triage, not really looking to learn new things, just wanted to work the requisite 7.5 hours and go off and enjoy the evenings.
I was like that for some years when I was young. :)


I think you will grate on an ISFP nerves - especially one who flies by the seat of his pants and likes to work late nights with pizza and all that.
I think I do grate on him. :( You are right.


do your thing and leave when you need to. Dont wait around fighting fires. Let him do that since he likes it. If your team wants to do that, let them do that as well. You can only control your behavior. But...in this scenario you have got to get your shit done.
This sounds so right, I am afraid to believe it! :)
 

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Ahh, I wish I could have seen that original version. :)
ok, now that I have some context, I can try it from an MBTI perspective.

I completely understand. I wasn't so structured in the past and it is definitely not my natural mode of operation. However, I have a tertiary Te, remember? By middle age, after some early-career mistakes, I learnt my mistake and noticed that the root cause of most problems was my lack of organization. I also realized that many of my childhood successes were because I was enabled in my organization of tasks and priorities by some very J parents. :)

It took me several years and even now, it is a low-power skill, but I have come a long way in the way I manage my professional life. Hope that explanation helps.

Basically, Tertiary functions are what we often focus on in mid-life. Building it gives a sense of security, I have read. In my case, it is applicable. I feel very secure when I have my act sorted.

The first, I have explained above.
The second and third: the credit goes to a scientist father who put that idea into my head since childhood. And then, a great university and wonderful teachers who made Computer Science a fun, fruitful thing to engage in. :)

ENFPs in Engineering or the pure Sciences often are quite structured in their thinking. Oddly enough, even a lot of English Litt grads, I have seen, show an innate ability to think critically and present coherently. Of course, I am definitely not implying that having a degree or not is any real, reliable indication of ability to think or any such thing! :) These are just my observations from my very small sample set.

I was like that for some years when I was young. :)

I think I do grate on him. :( You are right.

This sounds so right, I am afraid to believe it! :)
His is inferior Te which is essentially a shadow function. Tertiary Te, while not really a growth function is definitely more accessible than inferior Te. This happens to be a source of conflict because your planning is not really your first choice and is something you are accessing in order to provide security and defend against chaos - something he happens to be aware of due to his dominant Fi and at the same time doesn't fully trust your planning. You might want to lay out your team's tasks for the next planning period (i usually plan every sprint in advance and a sprint is timbered to 1 month for teams that are new to the game and the team gets smaller as the teams gel better - norming, forming, storming) in a simple excel spreadsheet (I happen to have a very strong distaste for gantt charts and the waterfall methodology - read this paper by hirotaka takeuichi https://hbr.org/1986/01/the-new-new-product-development-game to see why software development cannot be controlled in the same way as an assembly line can be) and be as transparent as you can about all the tasks on the teams plate. This should help alleviate his fear of his inferior Te and to earn his trust.

Earning his trust is appealing to his dominant Fi. trust is very important for IXFPs. Perhaps more important than anything else. They refer to it as feeling, liking, flow etc. really what they mean is establishing a basis for trust in values and morals.

I don't know what you can do about his tendency to Se in engineering. That is what is causing those late night pizza parties where nothing really gets done engineering wise (i know it because it has been more than a decade years since I have succumbed to the temptation of being the hero - well i slip up every now and then) and many errors creep in during those late night sessions.

But, you can use the task list above to let him know that there were tasks assigned priority and they are already in progress and switching them up because some customer changed priority may not be the best idea. In any case that is a work in progress. Some people take some time to change on that aspect - there is a feeling of glory associated with doing those marathon sessions and coming out victorious in the end.

And I think your ideational process really messes him up because Ne has a tendency to make ISFPs feel like you are all over the map and not fixed on a particular view. You might need to hold off on your Ne when discussing things with him - chart out a particular view about the project direction and stick to it in your conversations with him. Focus is required in those conversations. Focus and prioritization. One point - single responsibility principle.

His Ni makes him fear the future and what will happen if the course chosen doesn't happen to be the right one. He fixes that with his penchant for late night sessions. Showing him that bad things don't happen (he won't get fired, he won't be wrong) when focus is on the priorities already established and new priorities can be worked on after the current sprint will help a great deal here.

Since he is conflict avoidant (preferring instead to simply solve the issue rather than bringing it up with his management), your best bet there (once you have earned his trust) is to tell him that it is HIS job as your manager to protect you and your team. protection flows downwards. His job is to protect you, your job is to protect your team. Tell him that he needs to ensure that you are free from distraction of changing priorities to get your ob effectively done and if you and your team are freed from distractions the job gets done and he in turn looks good. So HE needs to put his foot down when new priorities come in at the last minute and this way he in turn is respected by his management as a person who is honest about what can be done and what cannot.

You haven't said whether your organization is development centric or not, but if it isn't development centric then the way development is respected is by keeping to its commitments sprint after sprint consistently. Read up a little on Kent Beck and Jeff Sutherland for that piece. Even if you deliver small increments in every timber, if you and your team do it consistently things will change.

This was slightly different from the big piece on MBTI I had :) but it is a lot more stable in content and makes very few assumptions because I had more context. The last one I scratched because it made too many assumptions :)
 
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Thank you. I appreciate your taking the time to reply positively, especially since I am effectively complaining about one of your kinsmen. I have sat the ISFP manager down a few times. He does seem receptive to those, so you are correct there. He does take some corrective actions too. However, when it comes to HIM doing stuff on a schedule and with some level of reliability, focus and completeness, it becomes a real problem. He doesn't want to face that; he doesn't want to solve it. So, I am basically fighting a battle trying to make someone do something that he has decided is NOT worth doing at all.

But I shall continue to the best of my ability. My intentions are extremely honest, but the possibility remains that my actions will start to look very soon like he is being incompetent and I am telling my boss how and when to do things! :O Oh well, let time play this out...
got ya, not everything is fixable too. isfp or whatever else, some people are just a pain :p
 

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I keep going round and round with pros and cons, finding it difficult to decide one way or the other, especially where the matter has a strong emotional component to it.
Oh, I do that too. I just sound decisive while I'm doing it:) Decisions and perspective can be crazy hard. Maybe it's that I have a touch of F. Maybe the myers briggs system is helpful, but only an interesting mirror to look at ourselves through, and hardly an absolute.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
@Algorithmics

Thank you for the detailed, solution-oriented help.

I read this post over and over again to see how best I can prepare for Monday morning.

One thing that stood out clearly is that my tendency to plan versus his tendency to be heroic are at cross purposes. Planning will effectively kill those opportunities and life at work would become painfully boring for him. I don't see how he will value that. :)

My plan, then, is to carve out silos where he does some things and I do some other things, probably using the same team. Keeping a non-intersecting set of projects and getting my autonomy for my piece is what will help. Corollary being, he will get his autonomy too. Rose hinted at this approach in her reply too, I think.

That, plus the communication mechanisms suggested by you and the others are on my agenda for this week. Let's see. :)

Thanks again, for supporting a random stranger on the cyber space... :)
 

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@Algorithmics

Thank you for the detailed, solution-oriented help.

I read this post over and over again to see how best I can prepare for Monday morning.

One thing that stood out clearly is that my tendency to plan versus his tendency to be heroic are at cross purposes. Planning will effectively kill those opportunities and life at work would become painfully boring for him. I don't see how he will value that. :)

My plan, then, is to carve out silos where he does some things and I do some other things, probably using the same team. Keeping a non-intersecting set of projects and getting my autonomy for my piece is what will help. Corollary being, he will get his autonomy too. Rose hinted at this approach in her reply too, I think.

That, plus the communication mechanisms suggested by you and the others are on my agenda for this week. Let's see. :)

Thanks again, for supporting a random stranger on the cyber space... :)
I disagree with this plan (obviously). he just has to accede that in product development his method is going to cost the company in the long run and your method is what works for the company in the long run. it might take time but eventually he has to accept that or go and do something where he is a better fit. my personal philosophy has changed - i don't fire people that easily any more and instead try to retrain them and work with them - a more people oriented approach. but...that said - i don't have any sympathy with his way of doing things and am not as lenient as you are. from a zodiacal approach i am a concerian, but probably an aries ascendant or something like that because i can be quite a bulldozer when people get in the way of the product.

but, it is your plan and you will have to set it in motion and see where it gets to you. would love to know if it worked out.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I disagree with this plan (obviously). he just has to accede that in product development his method is going to cost the company in the long run and your method is what works for the company in the long run. it might take time but eventually he has to accept that or go and do something where he is a better fit.
True. But in the real world, people often don't come to such realisations on their own.

my personal philosophy has changed - i don't fire people that easily any more and instead try to retrain them and work with them - a more people oriented approach. but...that said - i don't have any sympathy with his way of doing things and am not as lenient as you are. from a zodiacal approach i am a concerian, but probably an aries ascendant or something like that because i can be quite a bulldozer when people get in the way of the product.
I have a far gentler ascendant :) and I cannot handle passive aggression with dignity. This person will resort to passive aggression and politics if he feels cornered. That may not be productive. Besides, harmony with people is something I need as almost a sine qua non at work. So diplomacy it is for me for now. I will be assertive about clearing my own path because I would like to spend my energies in constructive activities rather than on solving petty personality conflicts day in and day out. Beyond that, I would not try to fix anyone. I like relationships to be maintained. :)

but, it is your plan and you will have to set it in motion and see where it gets to you. would love to know if it worked out.
Sure, will keep you all posted.
 

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@Algorithmics
Rose hinted at this approach in her reply too, I think.
This plan might work great for you, but I did not hint at it. Hints and I don't really play well together, which is part of why my response to this problem was so drastic (either find a different job or try to fully fit into the role he wants of you). For me, I would probably not be able to successfully navigate a middle ground after someone started to feel threatened. For you, it may very well work. This comment is not to disagree with your plan, as I do not feel like I have much to add to it either way.
 
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