Ready To Explode

Explode

So have you ever had to deal with someone at work and they are NOT exactly acting the consummate professional?


They may be volatile, angry, raising their voice, intransigent, threatening, acting the a*s, maybe even a little meshuga.


Yeah, unfortunately it happens (although it absolutely shouldn’t)!  


People have crap going on in the office, at home, and sometimes they come in and they just can’t cope.  


G-d forbid, they should never really “go postal” as in real violence–but you never really know what you are going to be dealing with. 


One colleague said some people are just “hypervolic“–a new word for someone who is excessive, over the top, and emotionally volcanic!


Yikes–scary enough. 


Another colleague I know who is excellent with people and has decades of experience dealing with a cast of characters told me, “I just look at everyone as a bomb ready to go off.


Ugh, not exactly how I would want to perceive people around me, but the point is well taken–you never know (and you can almost hear the ticking now). 


With some people we sort of know from dealing with them that they have some marbles loose, and while others may appear calm, cool, and collected on the outside, on the inside they may be a volcano ready to blow. 


Heck, you can’t read everyone right and even if you do, you can try to calm them down, listen to them, work with them, talk sense to them, suggest some counseling or other outside assistance, but even then they may go off the deep end. 


Lots of personalities out there, lots of people with problems and stresses, and sometimes we in our best intentions may make mistakes or unknowingly say the wrong thing and it only inflames the situation.


Of course hopefully, calmer heads will prevail, professionalism will take front seat, and people will get some perspective and do the right thing…chill man!


But also keep in mind what my colleagues said, some people may  just be ready to go explode–like a volcano–and we need to be ready for that too. 


How do you prepare for this?


Yeah, I don’t remember them covering that subject in leadership training–maybe with the exception of listen, show empathy, and if worst comes to worst you can either head for the exits to get away or shelter in place before the human stress bomb goes big boom! 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Camilo Rueda Lopez)

Difficult Employees x 7

Difficult Employees x 7

So I was learning about some management best practices in terms of there being 7 major types of difficult employees:

  1. Challengers–employees that are oppositional; they resent authority, are disrespectful and confrontational.
  2. Clingers–people who are overly dependent; they are uncertain about what to do, fearful of making a mistake, withhold their opinions and may harbor deep resentments.
  3. Drama Queens/Kings–these folks crave attention; they can be found spreading gossip and rumors and making dramatic pronouncements both professional and personal.
  4. Loners–people who like to be left alone; they tend to hover over their computers and avoid personal interactions.
  5. Power Grabbers–staff that tend to get into power struggles with their boss; they ignore instructions and resist direction.
  6. Slackers–those who don’t do the work they are supposed to do; they tend to linger on break, calls, or the Internet or be out of the office altogether.
  7. Space Cadets–employees whose minds and discussion always seem to be in la-la-land; they tend to be off topic and impractical.

Obviously, each presents a unique set of management challenges, but one of the most important things a manager can do is focus on specific behaviors and the impact of those on the quality/quantity of work and on the organization, and work with the employee whether through coaching, counseling, mentoring, or training on how to improve their performance.

It should never be about the manager and the employee, but rather about the results and the outcomes. Keep it objective, be empathetic, document the issues, and work in earnest with the person to improve (where possible).

Difficult employees are not evil characters (or villains) like in the James Bond movies, but rather humans being that need inspiration, collaboration, guidance, feedback, and occasionally when appropriate, a change in venue–where a square peg can fit in a square hole. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Dealing With Change Resistance

In leadership class, I learned that in performance management, there are two major types of issues–conduct and performance.

In conduct issues–people willfully do not follow the rules of the workplace. Conduct issues are those of “won’t.”

However, with performance problems–people cannot meet the expectations for quantity and/or quality. Performance problems are issues of “can’t.”

On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, I wonder whether these same types of performance management issues apply to our lives as human beings and as children of G-d.

– Some people just won’t do the right thing, instead willfully choosing to lie, cheat, steal, and mistreat others. They prefer the monetary or egotistical rewards of doing the wrong thing over the spiritual and relationship hardships and challenges to do the right thing.

– Other people can’t do the right thing–they are too scarred by hurt, abandonment, loneliness, being told they are not good enough and can’t compete, and so on. For these people, sometimes, no matter how hard they try, they feel that they cannot meet expectations.

Of course, willfully doing something wrong is worse than not being able to do something right.

That is why for the first type of people–those with conduct problems–there is disciplinary action.

For the second type of people–those who have performance issues–we recognize their commitment and try to help them through things like coaching, mentoring, training, and counseling.

Performance issues may be linked to change resistance to change–and there are 3 dimensions of this:

1) Cognitive–“I don’t get it”–the person doesn’t fully understand and therefore agree with the rules.

2) Emotional–“I don’t like it”–a person emotionally rejects the rules of change, because they are afraid of the loss it will cause to them, personally and/or professionally.

3) Interpersonal–“I don’t like you”–when people are not resisting an idea, but rather they are resisting you, personally.

Great leadership is the ability to sense when any of these dimensions are off and help to course-correct them:

– When people don’t get it–we can inform, create awareness, and educate.

– When they don’t like it–we can listen to them and show empathy, get them involved in the process, and maybe show them the “what’s in it for me” (WIIFM).

– And when they don’t like you (the most difficult one)–we can try to win people over by taking responsibility for the things we have done wrong, demonstrating over time that we are trustworthy, spending time together to better get to know each other and build the relationship, and maybe even give in on some issues, where appropriate.

Like on Rosh Hashanah, where we seek G-d’s mercy on us and ask that he work with us, so too, we can learn to work with others to try and help them, where possible.

(Source Photo: Minna Blumenthal)

Helping Employees Find The Right Job Fit

I have a new article in Public CIO Magazine (August 2011) on the topic of how to handle poorly performing employees.

Finding the right candidate for a job is much like finding a spouse — it requires the right chemistry. There’s a critical difference between having great qualifications and being the right person for a particular job, which is a concept that organizational behavior specialist refer to as ‘person-job fit.'”

When you see employees struggling, try to bring them up to speed in every possible way. If that doesn’t work, help them find a better position to continue their path of professional and personal development.”

Read the rest of the article at Government Technology.
(Source Photo: here)