7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them)
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them)

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A difficult co-worker can ruin what is otherwise a perfectly good job. Dealing with an untrustworthy backstabber, a bullying loudmouth or a deceptively quiet schemer can deplete the energy of you and your employees.

We have strategies that will defuse the threat they pose to the workplace and free up time you can spend with others -- including your family. Be prepared to experiment with a range of motivational tactics -- a mix of carrots and sticks.
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them) | Slide 2 of 9

The Egomaniac

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High-ego employees resist direction. They think they know best, so they shrug off even the most gently worded advice. They do not think they need to improve -- and consider you lucky to have them.

If your employees deliver consistently excellent results, you may want to expend the effort to keep them on track rather than cutting them loose.

How to deal with them:

1. Don't poke fun -- it only makes matters worse.

2. Ration your public praise to exceptional results.

3. Be prepared to do some coddling.

It may be galling, but once you’ve granted egomaniacs the importance they crave, you’re well positioned to change their mind and improve their work.
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them) | Slide 3 of 9

The Glory Hound

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Egomaniacs drive managers crazy, but glory hounds drive everyone crazy. They not only want the spotlight -- they want to take it away from their peers.

Some telltale signs: Defensiveness, competitiveness to the point of treating peers as enemies and shameless self-promotion.

How to deal with them:

Take a less-is-more approach: Make them earn your approval by creating specific, easy-to-understand metrics and only rewarding them when their performance exceeds those key measures.
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them) | Slide 4 of 9

The Gossiper

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Managing gossip is difficult because as a general rule you can't forbid employees from chatting about employment-related topics. At the same time, gossipers can rupture relationships and sow seeds of distrust.

How to deal with them:

Make sure you're setting a good example. When an employee comes to you with a juicy tidbit, don't bite.

If your workers view you as a reliable source who will not withhold relevant information, you will forestall rumors. In times of uncertainty (when rumors tend to thrive), they will look to you for the latest news rather than speculate at the water cooler -- or via instant messaging.
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them) | Slide 5 of 9

The Silent Clam

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Quiet employees are fine -- until they become too quiet. Taking a laissez-faire approach with them can backfire: If you don't find out what makes them tick, they may start slacking off or refusing to follow directions.

How to deal with them:

Because timid types often speak slowly and seem to choose their words deliberately, a harried manager may try to prod the discussion along by jumping in. Don't! If the clam won't elaborate, it's your turn. Before adding any commentary, sum up what he or she said, using phrases like "To make sure that I understand, you think that..."

Paraphrasing shows you're paying attention and that you care what your employee has to say.
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them) | Slide 6 of 9

The Constant Complainer

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Everyone grumbles sometimes. Problem personalities never seem to stop. Not only can they crush morale, but outsiders may conclude you don't treat your employees well -- or that you tolerate malcontents.

How to deal with them:

1. Turn complaints into constructive proposals with phrases, such as: "In order to deal with [what you're grumbling about], let's solve that by...." And let them provide the specifics.

2. Confront them. Public scolding rarely works, but in a private meeting, describe their problem behavior. They may not realize how often they grouse. In a supportive tone, explain that you're not necessarily claiming their grumbling is unjustified, but that you want them to use more constructive language.
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them) | Slide 7 of 9

The Control Freak

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Left alone, control freaks aren't necessarily a problem to manage. Whatever challenging standards you set, they may eagerly meet or exceed them.

Their coworkers, however, suffer under their bossy colleague's constant nitpicking and intrusiveness. Your moves as a manager can either preserve your team's sanity, or lead it to disintegrate.

How to deal with them:

Position yourself as a "servant leader." Ask the control freaks what you can do to help them succeed. If you have a hard case where this doesn't work, adopt a different strategy: Keep detailed records, get HR involved, and be prepared to deliver a brutally honest dose of discipline.
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them) | Slide 8 of 9

The Change Resister

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What makes resisters so problematic is that they acquire a reputation as malcontent, enemies of an organization trying to advance to a brighter future. This perception can overshadow the fact that resisters actually care deeply about their employers.

How to deal with them:

Bring them back into the fold. Solicit their input as much as possible, and let them shape implementation.

Also, frame reforms as personal growth opportunities. Try "change enables you to make a greater impact here..."
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7 Problem Work Personalities(And How to Deal with Them) | Slide 9 of 9

More From Kiplinger

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This slideshow summarizes content from Kiplinger’s 7 Problem Personalities and How to Deal with Them in the Workplace, written by management expert Morey Stettner.

Purchase 7 Problem Personalities and How to Deal with Them in the Workplace

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