Q: “My boss really knows how to raise pigs.  He’s been doing it a long time, and whenever a challenge surfaces he knows exactly what to do.  The problem is, he’s not very good at talking to us.

“During training he gets frustrated if we don’t ‘get it’ right away.  He assumes that we know what we are doing. He avoids conflicts and is actually a bit anti-social.  What’s his problem?”

A: Regardless of the industry or profession, most people are promoted to management because they have proven that they are good at producing. That doesn’t automatically mean they are good managers, nor does it mean they are equipped with the right people skills.

Since he is so good at doing the production parts of his job, he’ll tend to get his satisfaction and sense of accomplishment from those aspects. But that doesn’t mean he gets a pass on being a marginal communicator. It will help if you understand that he measures his own performance through getting things done.

Don’t take it personally that he doesn’t talk with you as much as you'd like.  He’s not avoiding you to be rude; he probably assumes that everyone else is there for the same reasons he is — to get the work done and go on to the next job.

He doesn’t really have a problem; it’s just that his priorities are different than yours. Express appreciation when he is talkative and interactive. Perhaps there are some ways that you can offer some pointers on how he can be a better communicator. Let him know that you have learned a lot about pigs from him. I doubt anyone has ever said that to him, so he will really appreciate hearing it.

If you have questions for Dear Boss, send them to:

Don Tyler, P.O. Box 67, Stockwell, IN 47983

or e-mail to don@dontyler.com

Your letter will remain confidential, and may or may not get an individual reply.