I Supervise An Employee So Different From Me I Can’t Get A Read On Him


I inherited three new direct reports when our management team downsized. One of them worries me. I don’t understand him and as a result I don’t have a handle on how to supervise him.

“Greg” is the IT guy; everyone views him as a bit as an odd duck. When we had office potlucks pre-COVID, the rest of us would sit around talking over pizza. Greg would sneak in quietly, load his plate, and dart out. When he attends staff meetings, he doesn’t say a word. At the same time, we all know he’s brilliant and he does his job well.

I’ve tried different strategies for reaching out to Greg, but my normal skills as a supervisor fall short.  I’ve always been able to have a good conversation with each of my other direct reports, but never with him.

When we discuss potential projects and I ask him his thoughts, he never responds immediately. Instead, he says he need to “process” and will be able to give me an answer tomorrow. His answers, however, are good.

If it matters, we’ve done Myers Briggs testing, and he’s an introvert while I’m an extrovert.


If you’re more extroverted, you two dance to a different drumbeat. Introverted individuals may find group interaction draining and appreciate the chance to carefully reflect on a supervisor’s questions before answering them.

You can, however, learn how to supervise him by asking three questions:

“How can I best supervise you?”

“What do you want from a supervisor?”

“What performance can I expect from you and what standards should I measure your performance against?”

While you likely won’t get immediate answers to these questions, the ones you get may tell you everything you need to know.

© 2020, Lynne Curry

Lynne Curry is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016) and “Solutions” (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at lynnewriter10@gmail.com or follow her on twitter @lynnecurry10.

One thought on “I Supervise An Employee So Different From Me I Can’t Get A Read On Him

  1. Lynne–Thank you! Yes, he is an introvert. The supervisor, a pparently a classic extrovert, is showing what a good supervosir he/she is by asking for ideas on how to reach out to the IT guy, the classic introvert. Your suggestions to aks him what would help him and to be prepared for a response later while he processes and then gets back (probably in writing) are spot on. This can be a problem, too, for introverts when they do job interviews and are asked if they have any questions.

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