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Confronting the Problem Personality

by on March 3, 2010

“The employee whose work is as good as his or her personality is bad. As a manager, you need to lead the culprit on the path to enlightenment.”

This article is an excellent reminder of how to properly deal with one of the most challenging roles a manager can play.

“We would hate to lose him, but no one can imagine continuing to work with him.” The thorny issue of a problematic personality confronts every manager. It’s an exceptionally tricky challenge. Most managers would rather let sleeping dogs lie than play etiquette referee.

To address the problem mentioned above, seven strategies are presented by the author for turning a managerial liability into an effective and empathic leader.

1. Isolate the Cause: Arrange a meeting with the person in question to determine the reasons for the behavior.

2. Acknowledge and Validate: Ask yourself, “Is he or she motivated by vindictiveness or a genuine desire to do the best job possible?”

3. Provide Evidence and Discuss Consequences: Denial is a common reaction when anyone is confronted and held accountable for problematic actions. Provide documented evidence of the negative effects as described by others.

4. Appeal to Self-Interest: Most people want to know “What’s in it for me?” before they can muster the motivation to change.

5. Encourage Awareness of Others: Suggest that the person in question ask, “How will my actions or what I’m about to say affect others?” Probe the employee about the interpersonal relationships he or she has with others.

6. Turn Empathy into Action: Explain how respect and validation are almost always answered with loyalty, enthusiasm, and great work.

7. Reward and Reinforce: Make it clear that you will hold the employee accountable in a positive way. Revisit the steps he or she is taking to change, and always acknowledge progress, even if it’s incremental at first.

“The more managers and team members are made mindful of the impact they have on others, the greater their capacity to meet them halfway and embrace change.”

[Source]

-Deepti Shah

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