How to Deal With a Difficult Personality
There are different personality types in the workplace. If you only have two members on your team, you can see the diversity. Differences add value as individual perspectives can increase the effectiveness and productivity of a group. When a group works well together, there is enthusiasm and everyone benefits from individual contributions.
It would be great if all managers had employees that arrive at work on time, never complained, were self-motivated to perform at above satisfactory levels and were happy to at work. This doesn’t always happen.
Since there is diversity in the workplace, employees come to work with different perspectives and attitudes, and your job is to maximize the effectiveness of each person’s contribution.
How do you manage an employee that creates havoc by their personality? For starters, keep this in mind:
- You can’t control another person’s behavior but you can control your response to it.
- Be aware of your own level of comfort or discomfort with challenging employees.
- When managing employees, it’s not about their personalities – rather focus on addressing their behaviors and the impact on the team and business.
Some challenging behaviors:
- Do you have an employee that complains a lot? What about the reactive employee who easily expresses their frustration or anger. These individuals can be disruptive to everyone on the team.
- What about the employee that does just enough to do 75% of their job but no more than that? Maybe you try to motivate then or just ignore them and take the 75% effort. This employee’s impact is more subtle, yet the team knows about this borderline performance issue. The saying “you are only as good as your weakest link” is perfect for your overall team’s perception regarding standards of performance.
- The employee that constantly knows it all and is not open to listening to any input.
- Do you have an employee that is dishonest – lying?
- …fill in your own current employee situation.
How to deal with difficult behaviors:
- Become detached from the employee’s behavior and reduce your own reactions to the issue. An intense reaction on your part to their behavior will feed the employee’s defensiveness.
- Focus on listening – find out if there is a particular issue for the employee that is causing this behavior.
- Understand that difficult people are trying to control their environment. Your goal is to help them see alternative behavior solutions to their need for control.
- Be clear on what performance levels and behaviors are standard for every member of your team.
- Provide specific feedback how their behavior(s) is affecting the team. Tell them exactly what behavior(s) must change.
- Ask them how you can support them while they are correcting the behavior. You will learn what part of their behavior they are willing to own, as well as let the employee know that you are there to support them in being successful.
In managing employees, remember it’s not about attitude but rather about specific actions on the part of the employee. The more specific you are around what is acceptable behavior, the best opportunity for success on the part of the employee.
If you have coach, counseled, provided clear expectations around behavior and the employee is still not able to make the necessary changes, then you need to make a decision regarding the employee’s ability to add value to your team.
Keep in mind that you not responsible for the employee’s behavior…they are. Your responsibility is to provide clear and supportive expectations around performance and behavior for your team members.