Being a manager does have its perks, you may get the corner office with the view, a marked parking space, probably even an attractive pay package, but we all know the managerial role is no walk in the park. So what’s the toughest part of the job?
According to Bayt.com’s ‘Management Challenges in the MENA’ poll, managing multicultural teams can be the most difficult part of their job, according to 29.9% of managers. This particular management challenge increasingly comes into the spotlight in the MENA where an average workplace has multiple different nationalities, cultures and ethnicities interacting and working together. Building trust and loyalty is also considered challenging by 24.8% of polled professionals. According to the poll, the other areas that managers find challenging are motivating and inspiring teams (18.6%), encouraging open communications (16.2%), training and coaching (5.7%), as well as delegating adequately (4.8%).
Cultural diversity aside, an average workplace is usually also hugely diverse in terms of job skills, personalities, attitudes towards work and life and individual quirks and preferences. While this can contribute to an interesting and stimulating work environment, it does mean that occasionally we encounter a truly “difficult” employee i.e. someone whose personality, attitude, or approach to work and life is so skewed, it causes problems for a manager and the rest of the team.
The career experts at Bayt.com, the Middle East’s leading job site, have below classified four kinds of difficult employees and how to manage them to ensure that your team is as smooth and efficient as a well-oiled machine.
The Perennial Pessimist: How to spot a Perennial Pessimist? This person is the one who will put a damper on every endeavour through their perpetual negativity. While it is good to have a devil’s advocate when brainstorming and bouncing ideas, a perennial pessimist will take a negative approach not for the benefit of idea development but just because they are generally uncooperative. Dig deep and you may find reasons for their inertia are that they are lazy or burnt out or very risk-averse and change-averse or simply severely lacking in the self-confidence needed to embark on new ventures. Still, they pose a roadblock to the company’s growth and productivity and their negativity can be contagious if not addressed.
The Know-it-all: According to Bayt.com’s ‘Management Challenges in the MENA’ poll 37.2% of managers believe that mid-career employees are the hardest to manage. With a large influx of Gen-Y workforce, non-traditional ways of thinking and problem solving are the norm of the day. Interestingly the same poll also shows that 34.4% of managers believe that those at entry level are harder to manage. The Know-it-all is the person who is difficult to convince because they hold rigid views that are resistant to change possibly because they have been doing the job for a while or maybe because they have the inflated confidence and self-assurance of freshly graduated youth. This brand of difficult employee is characterised by being arrogant, and having a perpetually superior attitude. Their belief that they can do no wrong makes them very stubborn and poorly receptive to constructive criticism. Managing an employee with such qualities is difficult because it’s hard to get a Know-it-all employee to commit to a new idea or project or change their ways.
The Passive Aggressive: The Passive-Aggressive employee may not seem as overtly difficult as the other ‘types’ but they are no less toxic for a workplace. The Passive Aggressive employee is meek, submissive and avoids confrontation. They have a problem saying ‘no’ which makes them take up more projects/tasks than they can handle, ultimately jeopardizing the deliverables and project timelines.
The Hostile Aggressive The Hostile Aggressive type is the most overtly difficult type of employee. It’s easy to spot them, they are openly violent, pushy, abusive and generally get the team moral down.
Given that all personalities are different there is no one-size-fits all solution to deal with difficult employees. ‘You can’t control other people’s behaviour, but you can control your responses to it’ according to Roberta Cava, author of Dealing with Difficult People – How to deal with nasty customers, demanding bosses and uncooperative colleagues . Below are a few steps you can take to confront this problem.
1. Don’t Ignore: Don’t ignore the problem. While an employee may be of value to the organization, this should not be an excuse for you to condone his/her behaviour when it is counterproductive and adverse to the company’s wellbeing and morale. Also do not wait for the problem to resolve itself, this will probably only reinforce the negative behaviour cycle and perpetuate the problem further.
2. Intervene: Timely professional intervention is necessary; if possible take action immediately after such behaviour is displayed. Sometimes it is necessary to make the difficult employee realize that their behaviour is having a negative effect on the rest of the team. Timely feedback given very constructively and professionally and unconfrontationally can help the employee view their actions form others point of view and realize there aer other ways to see and approach a situation.
3. Help: Once the difficult employee starts to see things from the others’ perspective, they can be coached to display healthier behavioural patterns. The HR department can assist in this regard by suggesting coaching and trainings and effective communication techniques. The Perennial Pessimist can learn to give constructive criticism rather than complain, the Know-it-all can learn to be more open to other’s opinions, the Passive-aggressive can undergo assertiveness training and the Hostile-aggressive can start addressing their anger and stress in a healthier manner.
Ignoring this issue will not help, addressing difficult employees in a timely manner will ensure that the rest of your team does not suffer and dealing with this will definitely reflect well on your reputation as a manager.
This article originally appeared in Bayt.com. This article and all other intellectual property on Bayt.com is the property of Bayt