10 Difficult Employees (and How to Handle Them)
The Undecider The Ultra-CompetitorThe Drama QueenThe IconoclastThe DronerThe Social (Network) ButterflyThe VolcanoThe ProcrastinatorThe Creative GeniusThe Panic Button
Whether your company is an a early-stage start-up or a huge corporation, you've surely run into an employee who drives you batty. Here's an look at of the 10 most irritating workplace characters--along with some advice on how to get them back on track.
He takes days to make a decision and then, after it's made, revisits it. Then revisits it again. Then, when things fall apart and he is held responsible for his indecision, he becomes indignant or evasive. "It's not MY fault!"
How to cope: Establish a deadline where the decision must be final, and a default decision that will hold true if no decision is made. When the deadline comes, that's it. Refuse to consider any other alternatives.
No matter how a situation plays out, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the ultra-competitor can't let it go until he's convinced that he's won--and, more importantly, that someone else has lost.
How to cope: Get him focused on having the entire team win, rather than just him. Hint: Pay him a bonus based on team achievement--never on individual accomplishment.
He automatically turns absolutely everything into a hissy fit, replete with pique, umbrage, and a host of other French emotions. He seems to draw energy from the drama, while draining energy from everyone else.
How to cope: Set up boundaries for the behavior that you won't tolerate. Eject him from any meeting where his behavior becomes obstructive.
He thrives on the negative attention that comes from dissing authority figures and social protocols. He misses deadlines just to prove he doesn't have to follow the rules, and takes up causes without really understanding the implications of his actions.
How to cope: It's all about aiming him at the right enemy. Oddly, these types often do well as "customer advocates" who can take on the bureaucracy in order to see that customers get what they need.
He's always ready to give you a presentation--and it's usually one you've heard before. He's got a list of bullet points and is going to read each and every one to you, or know the reason why!
How to cope: Have an written agenda for every meeting, with a limited amount of time for presentations. Better yet, make a "no PowerPoint" rule for your meetings. Then stick to it.
He is convinced that it's productive for him to remain online all day "building relationships" with all your customers. In fact, he's just adding to the day-to-day blather that's such an integral part of the social network.
How to cope: Assign him measurable goals--like a certain number of qualified sales leads that he has to create every week.
He explodes whenever things don't go the way he thinks they should. He screams at meetings, yells into the telephone, and gets in your face. While he might apologize later, the whole team ends up perpetually walking on eggshells.
How to cope: Raise your own intensity (or you won't be heard), and then refuse to put up with unprofessional behavior. If necessary, leave the room until he's cooled down.
He says yes to projects but fails to follow through. As deadlines approach, he can't be found, even via email. When the work is finally turned in (often by others who have covered for him), he'll go on a mini vacation to "recuperate from the stress."
How to cope: Unfortunately, the only solution here is a little good old-fashioned micromanagement. Lay out frequent (even daily) milestones, and create consequences for missing one -- or for failing to report that he missed it.
He's a legend in his own mind ... and makes certain that you know about it. He's always talking about the amazing stuff he did in the past and his equally amazing plans for the future. Still, he seldom seems to actually do anything today.
How to cope: Give some lip service to his greatness, then bring him down to earth by breaking a project into chunks and getting him to "consult" on each chunk.
Some people really shine in a crisis. Others ... not so much. This guy remains calm for day and weeks, but then when a problem has reached its inevitable conclusion, he runs around like a decapitated chicken.
How to cope: Create an early warning system so that there are fewer surprises. And replace the regular coffee with the decaf on the day the bad news hits.
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