Dealing with Difficult people and their need for attention

Your managers probably have experience dealing with difficult employees that are perpetually needy: They demand attention and drag their supervisor’s time away from other work and other workers. Maybe they’re poor performers, need a lot of reassurance or have more serious problems, like drugs or alcohol.

Managers could exacerbate the problem by not dealing with difficult employees and their attention grabbing. Why? Because co-workers have to live with these employees’ unresolved problem(s). And that sinks morale. The obvious solution is to “just listen” to them and find out what the problem is. But that doesn’t solve the bigger problem. They’ll still badger the manager, though they may spend less time doing it.

Best bet: Managers need to let these employees know the consequences of their continuous attention grabbing. When dealing with difficult employees, a manager could ask the needy worker, for example: “Do you understand how much of my time you’re taking up without even knowing what you expect to achieve?” If the worker says yes, then continue the conversation. Managers can then empower the employee by asking, “What do you think you should do?” If the employee provides good suggestions, the manager can send him off with a vote of confidence – “You know what to do.”

Source: The Washington Post.

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