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Colleague shuts down

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Old 14th March 2019, 6:01 AM   #1
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Colleague shuts down

I am in a new role in a developing country (also new to the country). I am tasked with training a local senior staff member in project management. Overall we have a good relationship, he is supportive, willing to learn and respectful. He is actually in charge of the day to day running of the organisation. My role is to train him up over a year so at the end, when my contract is over, he can handle these responsibilities himself.

On two occasions now however he has shut down completely if a partner asked him to provide information. He gets really stressed and anxious, so I offer to take a look, but need his input as he's been there longer. I understand processes but I don't understand fully how things have been done in the past, and haven't seen the contracts staff signed.

And he just kinda shuts down. I'll ask him to get back to the partner with some questions, basically for more information and he tells me he can't think of anything to ask. And I say, well did you understand what they are asking for? "No".

On the whole he has been great and I am wary of making a big deal out of these things as admittedly he hasn't a whole lot of experience in the business side of things and it is my role to support him. And on 90% of things he shows engagement and capacity. But I guess his behavior is concerning me, because he needs to be a leader and for me to help him I need his buy in.

What can I do?
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Old 14th March 2019, 6:44 AM   #2
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Location: Deep South
Posts: 5,798
Probe! (Gently!) Draw on your good relationship with this person. Praise his work, and tell him you've noticed this one thing because it's so out of character for him to be so reluctant, and ask him why. It sounds to me like he might have been burned in the past, either by the partner or by going back and asking questions like you're asking him to do. There's something he's not telling you. You don't have the full picture yet.
"I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue." -Albert Einstein
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