Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Managing Difficult People at Work

Every organisation, every workplace has people with diverse backgrounds, religions, educational qualifications, experiences etc. Most importantly, they differ in their personalities and attitudes. Most people are polite, easily accessible and cooperate with others. But every organisation has a few people who are simply difficult to deal with or difficult to manage. "Difficult people" as they are generally referred, exists in every workplace. They can be in the form of a bad boss, a difficult co-worker or a non-corporative vendor or customer.

Difficult people become the problem employees for an organisation very soon. From the organisation's point of view, difficult people in a workplace is a problem because not only do they
themselves perform feebly, but also affect other employee's productivity, and often become a bottleneck for the people around them to perform efficiently on their jobs. A negative person can affect and hinder the organizational processes like change.
Types of difficult people in an organisation:
Difficult people in an organisation and be characterized and categorized into the following types or categories:
  • Uncooperative - These are the people who are concerned only about their needs and work, often creating troubles and conflicts for others. They don't cooperate with others and have the tendency to create tension at workplace.
  • Power Seekers - There are few people who can be categorized basically as power seekers. They always look for some chance or the other to seek more authority and power over others and show their superiority. To seek the spotlight (attention), or to be in the good books of the boss, they can even become the 'yes man' of their boss and go to the extent demoting or creating problems for others.
  • Complainer - This category is for the people who keep complaining about the organisation and its systems, their co-workers etc. Although there are complainers who complain against the genuine issues and do good for the organisation. The most dangerous type of complainers is the "malcontent complainer" who offers no valid suggestions but problems, and they drain out the energy from the organisation and have a demotivating impact on others.
  • Pessimists - Another category of difficult people in the organisation is of pessimists. They are the set of negative people in the organisation who can find fault in almost everything and everybody. With their negative mindsets, they can create negativity in their surroundings.
  • The aggressive employee - Aggressive employees, especially an aggressive boss, is the most difficult set of people in an organisation to deal with. They are the people who refuse to accept their faults and flaws, and consider themselves to be always right. They are found to be dominating in nature and believe that they "know-it-all". Such people fail to mature and acknowledge other's valuable ideas and suggestions. Such employees are often referred as "The hyena" indicating rude, aggressive, authoritarian and negative people, always blaming others for their failures.
  • The wild cat -is the category of people who are generally found very irregular at their work. Also, they are known to create and spread rumors in the workplace, always making excuses and blaming others for their inadequate performance. They have the tendency to create stress at their workplace.

Difficult people can be irrational, abusive, creating problems persistently or simply difficult to get along with. Every organisation has to decide whether and how to deal with them without having an adverse effect on the organisation's environment, employee's productivity and their morale. A few ways of dealing with them are:
Talk to them: Be patient and polite, talk to them with a personalized touch explaining them the situation. Don't confront or blame them, and listen to them. Give them a piece of your own mind, understand if there is some problem they are facing. Reinforce the good part of their behaviour.

Don't be a difficult person for them! Don't rush things and explain your point of view with care. Don't point fingers or try to judge them as a person. Be unbiased and systematic I your approach.
Always agree to disagree: Talk to the person with an open mind and positivity. No two individual are alike and there can always be disagreements. Personally disliking towards a co-worker or boss should be dealt with care. Always try to find the positive way out.

And last but not the least
Take concrete action: Once you are completely aware of the problem, through with all the possible solutions and the situation doesn't get any better, don't shy away from taking any concrete action for the good of the organisation and to stop the problem from aggravating, even if it requires to confront the person directly.
Establish parameters and hire "right": One of the most important and effective solution is to frame and practice the recruitment policies and procedures to judge the attitude of the person at the time of the interview and hire only the right people.
Dealing with difficult people is a challenge. However firing them or separating them from the organisation should be the last resort, as it is always possible to help them be more productive and effective in doing their job.


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