You can’t change someone’s personality, but you can make sure they behave properly while on the job.
Most common types of problem people and how to deal with them:
- The non-communicative person. Ask open questions that force him to explain what he thinks.
- The person who doesn’t listen. Ask him to repeat what you just said to see if he got it right.
- The daydreamer. Give him a task to share with someone else so he’s constantly on his toes. Don’t give him monotonous work.
- The loner. This person may be more comfortable talking on the phone than face-to-face. Exploit his talent for detailed, independent work on long-term projects.
- The secretive person. Make requests for information very specific and put it in writing.
- The sulker. Hear out him complaints, but don’t give in just because he seems unhappy. If given the silent treatment, ask a question and wait for the response so he is forced to answer you.
- The over-sensitive. Never make a critical remark about their work in front of other people. Build up their self-confidence by offering positive comments more than negative ones.
- The martyr. Don’t allow him to take on so much work. Have a private talk and point out your concern for his health, and that he shouldn’t stress himself out.
- The moaner. Before he complains, ask if he needs any help.
- The pessimist. Ask for specifics on why he thinks the proposal will not work. Remove his fear of failure or risk by relieving him of responsibility. Make it a team responsibility.
- The prejudiced person. Team up the chauvinist pig with a group of women who know how to handle difficult jobs. Don’t reinforce his prejudice with remarks about women drivers, etc.
- The jobsworth type. When asking them to do something that’s not in their job description, let them know you are asking them for a favor. Respect them by making it easy for them to say no.
- The control freak. Sit them down and ask what is the worst possible scenario if this new action goes wrong. Often it’s really not that bad.
- The know-it-all. Don’t humiliate them in front of others; you’ll just antagonize them. Give them credit where it’s due, but make them share it with other team members.
- The domineering type. They tend to pick on the youngest, weakest, or least experienced one on the team. Stand up for this person if he or she cannot stand up against the domineering one. When the domineering personality tries to shout someone down, stay cool. Don’t react. If everyone else ignores him he’ll soon realize how foolish he looks.
- The primadonna. Do not respond to this type. If she becomes childish, opt out of the conversation until she is calm and rational.
- The rowdy type. Give him his own space where he won’t bother others.
- The over-competitive type. Encourage them to beat their own targets.
- The aggressive type. Stand up to them whenever you need to.
- The manipulator. Talk openly to bring out what their hidden agenda really is. Don’t be too critical, but be friendly and nice.
- The rule bender. Take disciplinary action or warn them that they will be reported.
- The buck-passer. Make it clear that taking responsibility means you are responsible no matter who actually does the work, and whether you’re there physically or not. Put instructions in writing and be specific.
(By Peter Frans – Managing Partner – Trimitra Consultants)