Most workers are managed fairly easily. They understand that if they don’t get their jobs done, they could ultimately be replaced. Nearly every worker easily grasps that concept. Many know enough to link their performance with raises, bonuses, and other goody-bag perks, such as the ability to work from home occasionally. They balance competitiveness with civility and usually avoid making a lot of trouble for you.
However, every workplace has that one employee—or maybe more—who thrives on being downright difficult to manage. The reason is not a lack of productivity. The worker seems to sport a personality that makes a boss wonder why he or she became, or wants to remain, a boss much longer. Managers, do you (unintentionally) enable employees by rewarding negative behaviors? (Check out: 5 traits managers must have to effectively deal with Challenging Employees.)
Don’t let a challenging employee infect your entire work group. Let workplace expert Marie McIntyre’s 10-step “coaching road map” teach you how to handle all those multiple personalities at work. Read Managing & Motivating the 7 Most Challenging Employee Types.
- These employees come in two varieties: (1) Those who believe that their skills, knowledge, or mere presence are an absolute necessity to the survival of the organization; and (2) those who have been there so long they think they’ve earned the right to do things on their own terms.
Either prima donna, as an employee, can quickly douse workplace morale. As uncomfortable as this might be, you and your managers must crack down on this person. Your reputation as an effective HR professional rides heavily on it.
Rote, low-level, must-do assignments work on both entitled prima donna-type employees. This type of assignment sends the message that the organization will survive without certain individuals. Consequently, it also shows both types of employee that you are still the boss.
- Unlike the entitled, the connected employees pull their strength not from their misguided thoughts, but from someone above your head. For whatever reason, they are liked and protected. It’s not so bad when these employees are productive, but that’s seldom the case.
Other employees become keenly aware of the corporate umbilical cord and look to you for help disarming the connected employee. Document shortcomings for these employees. You might be surprised when your boss supports you once you produce evidence of a genuinely poor performer. The CFO’s allegiance to one of your subordinates may not be as strong as you imagine.
Self-Absorbed employees are, for the most part, productive. As a result of their self-absorption, however, their productivity stays in their own sphere. These folks are not team players and rarely make an overture to help anyone else or see collaboration as a positive thing. They hoard their ideas, making zero contributions at meetings. Such a person may have low confidence and high need for recognition. Give it to them. Help them share their “wealth” with others. Most noteworthy, there’s an ego at play here.
- Otherwise known as the office gossip, naysayer, fault-finder, and comedian (at the company’s expense, of course), the rabble-rouser has a magnetic personality. They attract disillusioned co-workers and other misplaced bullies. Levity is one thing, but you need to move in fast to stop the rabble-rouser from forming a destructive “peanut gallery” that thinks everything is a joke: the organization, the policies, their co-workers and yes, you.
Now isn’t that enough to make you want to show them who’s boss? Tolerating these harmful behaviors is definitely NOT the best solution. Learn specific coaching strategies to help you manage and motivate the seven most difficult employee types.
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