We all can have our moments. Moments when we are happy, sad, miffed, and difficult. If an employee who usually exhibits relatively happy and cooperative behavior and suddenly or unexpectedly shifts behaviors for the worst, then it’s probably due to some out of the ordinary happenstance. This employee may need some time off or require services such as a counselor or legal advice that is outside our skill set as managers. It’s those employees who exhibit consistently difficult behavior that are the issue.
These employees try our patience and emotions. However, patience and controlling our emotions are of paramount necessity to help handle these trying people. This is increasingly difficult to pull off when dealing with these types of behaviors is a daily occurrence. Let’s look at some of the causes and cures of these difficult personalities.
Losing weight and managing have a lot in common. Both losing weight and managing people are difficult. If you’re overweight, you may often receive negative feedback about how your weight is affecting your health from family, friends, and your doctor. One of the most difficult tasks in managing people is giving negative feedback or terminating them. It just so happens that employees with bad attitudes, low performers, and the good days/bad days employees are weighing you and your department down just as excess body weight slows your body down.
Of course, the idea is to always try and keep employees by finding a way for them to add value. The employee might be able to contribute by performing different tasks on your team. They may be a better fit for another team in the same area, or they might be able to move to a different area of expertise, or location. On the other hand, allowing a poor performer, or a person with a bad attitude, or an employee who engages in unethical behavior to remain on your team is like carrying around 600 pounds of excessive baggage. However, if you feel the employee is salvageable, to ensure both yourself and the employee that you have made every effort to give them a fair chance, a good idea is to create a performance improvement plan (PIP).
Managing is difficult at best.
For new managers, it’s even worse.
But inheriting a mess or dysfunctional team can try the experience, expertise, and skills of even the most seasoned managers. Trying to undo the mistakes and shortcomings of an incompetent predecessor can be like trying to arm wrestle a plate of spaghetti. There may be “obvious” items such as redundant processes, unnecessary paperwork, or poor equipment or software choices. But there may also be not so obvious items such as the person who wanted your job and is out for revenge. Or how about the person who, in reality, was running the department while your predecessor slept. Then of course, our favorites - the difficult employees. You know them, the passive aggressive, the victim, the disrupter, the martyr, or the inconsistent employee. Fortunately, those who have gone before have left a blueprint to help guide managers, at almost any, level toward success in managing a mess.