How to Handle Difficult People in Your Workplace

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It took years to develop, but I was finally able to figure out how to handle difficult situations and how to work with difficult people.

I’ve worked with:

  • The decisive, smart and friendly executive type
  • The 9-to-5 do everything I’m asked with a smile and actually enjoy my work type
  • The let me know if I can help you with anything type
  • The we all know I’m the smartest one in the room type
  • The you cross me, and I promise you it will be the worst mistake of your entire career type
  • The please give me another day to make this decision type
  • The let’s be real, I don’t really give a damn, just tell me what you need me to do and I’ll do it type
  • The please don’t ask me to do anything for you because it’s not in my job description type
  • The OMG she’s walking near my cube, I better act like I’m doing something before I get fired type
  • The you used this word incorrectly in a PowerPoint, therefore I will call an all hands meeting to get this settled type
  • The I trust you Robbie to make any decision you see fit type
  • The if I don’t get a summary email at 8 p.m. every day I’m going to assume you didn’t do anything all day type
  • The I’m going to cry instead of making an important decision so please back off type
  • The I don’t really care what you think about me or my decisions, just do what I tell you type
  • The who the hell left an unclean spoon in the sink, your mother isn’t here to look after you so I’m going to leave a passive aggressive sign above the sink and another on the refrigerator in addition to an email blast to the entire office type
  • The give me your date of birth so we can celebrate your half birthday type
  • The I’m going to pretend like I didn’t hear you the first time so I can make this conversation as awkward as possible type
  • The I’m going to agree to everything said in the meeting then complain privately once the meeting is over type
  • The I literally, figuratively and hypothetically do not care what anybody thinks about me, so just keep paying me every 2 weeks and we’ll all be happy type
  • The if I hear one single piece of constructive criticism about my work I’m never going to open up my mouth again type
  • And finally my favorite: The holy crap lady I can hear your nails click clacking on your keyboard from across the office type

For the person who creates those passive aggressive, “If you’re leaning, you’re cleaning” signs above the sink, I purposely don’t clean dirty spoons and put them in the sink so they can be even more upset. I’m evil like that.

The uncomfortable truth is that not all of these types are easy to deal with. In fact, many of these types make it much harder to get anything accomplished.

Deal with difficult people before they deal with you

Difficult people are an interesting breed. They tend to be the last person in a workflow who has the authority to approve a particular process, purchase order or contract, so they’re the final decision maker. They are nitpicky, irrational, insanely busy people who don’t understand how many hours the team has put into completing an activity.

They ask questions at the last minute about verbiage in a contract when they could have asked the question when you first started on the project. They make you start all the way from the beginning negating all that time you and your team spent on it.

And yet instead of engaging this person right away, most people wait all the way until the end to get their approval, then are in complete shock when this person demands that additional edits be made.

Why?

Easy. People hate working with difficult people unless they absolutely have to. Instead of getting answers to their questions right away, they take the easy route and make assumptions hoping the difficult person won’t ask questions once they review it. Nobody likes awkward conversations and would rather show the decision maker a “finished product” so they don’t get negative feedback on something that isn’t finished.

Then when it comes time to review the finished product, the difficult person becomes well, difficult. Of course, this story isn’t complete without the standard everyone blaming each other for a missed deadline when the executive asks why that task was delayed.

Step up and deal with the decision makers even if they make you uncomfortable. Don’t do it to impress your boss or your teammates. Do it because you want to make the final approval process easier, and do it to learn how this decision maker operates.

Do it because no one else will.

Difficult people are often misunderstood. They’re difficult because their job requires them to be detail oriented and they have stake in the outcome of certain activities or projects. They don’t care how much time you spent on an activity. They care about the outcome.

If you can figure out what makes them tick through early difficult conversations, you’ll not only have better answers early on, but also a relationship with someone who others refuse to connect with — or can’t. – Robbie Abed author of “Fire Me I Beg You”

Treat your departing employee better than others…

departing employee

This looks funny for some people. But the reality is some organizations treat the departing employees as ‘dead stock having shorter shelf life’. The common thought is that ‘he/she is leaving X days from now, why should we support him?’. Always the experience on the ‘last days’ with the organization will last longer than normal working days.

 From my management experience I feel we should give good respect and one should be more professionally generous to the employees who are leaving the organization. Why?

1. Employees are the messengers to the world, if they feel good about the organization, they will support the organization in whatever possible way. May be you are recruiting some new heads, now a days social platforms like LinkedIn are there to make good referrals. If your ex-employee is not having a good feeling about your organization because of his ‘last days’ experience, he may not give a good referral; in turn you may lose a good candidate.

2. Your ex-employee may become your principal or may become your senior when you move to the other organization. If you creates an ill feeling when he was leaving the organization, obviously both many not enjoy working together for another organization; both may lose a good chance to work together.

3. After certain period the organization may feel to get the ex-employee back into the organization for whatever reason, the ‘ill feeling’ will not allow both the parties to work together.

Moreover the world is very small…. Why should we keep hard feelings on a colleague who is leaving the organization, we will definitely meet your peers anywhere in the world, may be some of your best future opportunity or employment referrals are lying with your ex-colleague. -Sam Issac

7 Career Mistakes You Don’t Even Know You’re Making

career mistakes

Older workers have a harder time finding jobs and remain the demographic that once unemployed, stays out of work the longest. So hanging on to their jobs is of paramount importance. Yet here are 7 mistakes older workers unwittingly make:

1. They don’t think they need to pick up new skills while they are still employed. 
Jobs are not static anymore. The workplace is constantly evolving and they need to evolve along with it. If an employer offers training classes, some older workers wrongly believe the classes are intended for new company hires and don’t go. Instead. they should be taking as many of those earn-as-you-learn classes as possible.

Should they lose that job, training is hard to come by. Government training programs are geared toward those who are receiving public assistance. The goal is to get those folks off the public dole and into tax-generating jobs.

Retraining programs for college-educated professionals kind of don’t exist. That, or they do a terrific job of hiding themselves from the public. In fact, a “60 Minutes” segment featured a Connecticut program in 2012 for just one reason: It was such a rarity. In that program, college-educated professionals, who had lost their jobs when they were in their 40s or 50s and who had been out of work for a full 99 weeks, were given a crack at some internships that could lead to permanent jobs. These former six-figure earners were grateful for the foot in the door for one big reason: Most of their peers don’t even get that.

Take-away: If you have a chance to broaden your skills, jump at it.

2. They think community colleges are just for kids.
The community college system has borne the brunt of re-training the displaced older workforce. There’s a program that launched in 2010 called the Plus 50 Completion Strategy which basically helps post50 students complete their post-secondary degrees,and aims to give older workers the skills they need to get jobs in fields that are actually hiring — like health care. So far, the Plus 50 initiative has served about 24,000 students, which — not to diminish this rare drop in the bucket — is about how many out-of-work journalists I hear from in any given week.

Even if you are working, it still makes sense to keep an eye on what lies around the corner for you professionally. Many of these classes can be taken online. If you are in one of those careers that is contracting, use the “hospice time” to prepare for what you will be doing next. And a community college is a great place to start.

3. They don’t sufficiently value reverse mentoring.
Older employees have some amazing teachers right under their noses, says Robert L. Dilenschneider, an author and business leader who lectures older workers around the country about staying relevant. “Younger employees are fluent not just in the new technologies but in the best ways to deliver business messages and marketing in such technologies,” he said, and older workers should seek them out. When workers can learn from each other, the workplace is strengthened.

Mentoring is a two-way street and the older workers who embrace that — instead of thinking that their age and experience alone make them the only teachers in the room — improve their value to the company.

4. They wrongly assume that working beyond 66 will be their choice.
This is a silly assumption, especially with companies eager to reduce costs and an economy that can provide many eager-to-work millennials who can be paid less than an older, more-experienced worker. The reality is that there is a guillotine lurking in every future and no job is secure for a lifetime anymore. It’s another argument for making yourself as invaluable as possible to the company by being willing and able to do multiple tasks.

Most boomers have gotten over the notion that they will be able to retire as young as their parents did. Now the goal is to hang on to the jobs they have for as long as possible.

5. They inflict self-damage when they joke about being tech-illiterate.
Stereotypes are bad things. And one of the popular stereotypes is that older people resist technology. It hurts them in the workplace and can be the death knell if they are job-hunting. And never mind that it isn’t a universal truth.

It’s important not to fuel the myth. Telling your younger boss that you need your teenager to program your new phone isn’t a funny joke; it’s a check mark in your “not capable” column.

6. They don’t make time to socialize with the younger people in the office.
While you may not think you have oodles in common with your decades-younger coworkers, it’s important to secure your place in the office universe.

Go out to lunch when they invite you, make time for the occasional drink after work, be interested in their weekend plans. Aside from the fact that having office friends will actually make coming to work more fun, it’s also easier to lay off the people who nobody knows.

7. They don’t actually have an exit strategy or a retirement plan.
A Fidelity study reported that 48 percent of boomers won’t be able to afford basic expenses in retirement. It begs the question: What are you doing about it?

The simplest answer is to try and save more and look for ways you are wasting money now. Another thing to think about is your housing costs, which are pretty much everyone’s big ticket item. While you are still working is the perfect time to look into more affordable places to live or how you can adapt your home expenses to be more aligned with your reduced retirement income. -Ann Brenoff

3 Things You Should Do While You Still Have a Job

Don’t be fooled by the recent small improvement in employment numbers. If you are in a company, division, industry, or type of job that is at risk for reduction, get moving NOW to be prepared if you are impacted. Current employees should get a “Plan B” ready now.

jobseeker

After coaching hundreds of people during my 30 year sales and marketing career and now as a professional coach, I have heard it all. Here are the top three excuses why they are not preparing for their next career move:

“It won’t happen to me; I’ve been here a long time.”

“I have no idea what I would do next.”

“Our business/company is doing just fine.”

Here are the top 3 things you should do right NOW, while you’re still employed:

1. AIM: Write out your “next job” goal with great precision, including target functions, industries, and companies. Avoid squishy goals such as “leverage my background in blah, blah, blah” or “I’m flexible so something in the retail space.” If you don’t have a list of 10 target companies, subscribe to your city’s local Business Journal and invest in their Book of Lists, as well. They have a jobs board, as well.

Why do I mention jobs boards when you aren’t even looking? Because they are the best resource to do your homework. Take your next-career-move goal statement and go and window shop on the jobs boards. Monster.com, Indeed.com , and many others are ideal for just checking out what is out there that meets your goal profile. If it doesn’t exist, then you’ve set a target on a unicorn. Change your goal so you are stating a target that exists as a real job.

2. UPDATE: Re-boot your résumé. Don’t just add your current position; give it a face-lift with keywords, power verbs, relevant skills, and metrics.

But, remember: résumés don’t get you jobs. It’s how you present yourself on top of the résumé, so prepare a draft cover letter and think about how you would position yourself to an executive of that company if you were looking.

3. NETWORK: Combine social media with face-to-face connections. Start attending industry or association events, alumni events, and any other relevant events you can identify. Use your local Business Journal to find the best events, job leads, fast-moving companies and much more.

It is more urgent now than ever before that you be ready today for something that could happen to you tomorrow. The job market is already highly competitive and job searches are taking much longer than in the past (an estimated one month for every $10K in annual pay).

We have car insurance, home insurance, health insurance, but no “Job Insurance”… build it now. There are things you should and could be doing to prepare for your next career move.

Don’t worry; you’re not sneaking behind anyone’s back. The activities you should be involved in are everyday business behavior and don’t have to be “hidden” from the public or your employer. For example, using LinkedIn. Many companies see the value of great LinkedIn profiles for their employees; they’re even teaching how to build one! However, you can still make huge progress by learning how to conduct a confidential career-building set of activities.

Don’t be caught without a “Plan B” for your career. It’s nobody’s responsibility but yours. – Dana Manciagli

Four Reasons to Quit Your Job

quit job

What criteria can you use to determine if you have been with the same company too long?

A friend of ours, an investment manager at a highly regarded company in the Midwest, who drove to work one morning, parked his car in the usual spot, and then found he simply could not bring himself to get out of the car. “I guess I stayed on the farm one day too long,” he joked later. When we asked him what went wrong, he answered, “It wasn’t one thing. It was everything.” No wonder he drove home and called in his resignation.

Obviously, most people don’t decide they’ve overstayed at their companies in such a dramatic fashion. Usually, angst about work creeps in, and then builds until it consumes you. And that can happen early or late in a career. Gone are the days when, after graduation, you took the best available job and stayed for as many years as you could possibly stand, frustration be damned. These days, it is not unusual to hear of perfectly legitimate careers built on multiple job stints.

So, to your question, how can you tell when it’s time to move on? We wouldn’t set out specific criteria as much as offer four questions to help sort out an answer.

The first is so simple it almost goes without saying, but the fact that a lot of people don’t confront it, including our friend who ended up stuck in his car—a Harvard MBA, by the way—suggests we should go ahead and put it out there: Do you want to go to work every morning?

This is not a matter to be over-brained. Does the prospect of going in each day excite you or fill you with dread? Does the work feel interesting and meaningful or are you just going through motions to pull a paycheck? Are you still learning and growing?

We know of a woman who worked in consulting for seven years. She loved her firm and had originally planned a career with it, but suddenly started noticing that she wished every weekend was five days long. “Basically, I felt like we were putting together massive books in order to make recommendations to people who knew more than we did,” she said. “Every day at the office, I felt a little bit more of a hypocrite.” She now happily works on the “front lines,” to use her phrase, in the marketing department of a retail company.

Second, do you enjoy spending time with your coworkers or do they generally bug the living daylights out of you? We’re not saying you should only stay at your company if you want to barbecue with your team every weekend, but if you don’t sincerely enjoy and respect the people you spend 10 hours a day with, you can be sure you will eventually decide to leave your organization. Why not make the break sooner rather than later and start cultivating relationships at a company where you might actually plant roots?

Third, does your company help you fulfill your personal mission? Essentially, this question asks whether your company jibes with your life’s goals and values. Does it require you, for instance, to travel more than you’d like, given your chosen work-life balance? Does it offer enough upward mobility, given your level of ambition? There are no right or wrong answers to such questions, only a sense of whether you are investing your time at the right or wrong company for you.

Fourth and finally, can you picture yourself at your company in a year? We use that time frame because that’s how long it usually takes to find a new, better job once you decide to move on. So peer, as best you can, into the future, and predict where you’ll be in the organization, what work you’ll be doing, whom you will be managing, and who will be managing you. If that scenario strikes you with anything short of excitement, then you’re spinning your wheels. Or put another way, you’re just about to stay too long.

To be clear: We’re not suggesting people quit at the first inkling of discontent. No matter where you work, at some point you will have to endure difficult times, and even a deadly dull assignment, to survive a crisis or move up. But it makes little sense to stay and stay at a company because of inertia. Unlock your door and get out. – Jack and Suzy Welch

The Right Way to Fire Employees

“I’ve seen many a CEO take a bullet themselves because they did not fire the unmotivated and incompetent thinking they could reform, retrain, and remotivate people who either don’t know or don’t care, or both. This is a great article worth the read.” – Sharon Jenks

 

In my years of experience in the C-suite, I’ve met and worked with every kind of personality out there, from big and brash know-it-all executives to quietly confident managers who fly below the radar — and always get the job done.

But I’ve never known anyone who likes to use the “f” word.

Not that “f” word. The one I’m referring to here is “fired,” as in, “You are.”

Even Donald Trump, who has added to his fame and fortune by making “You’re fired!” his catch phrase (something I have first-hand experience with from my time on “Celebrity Apprentice”) doesn’t always relish the idea of letting someone go.

One of the most authentic, radically transparent people I know, Trump didn’t get to where he is today by playing small, avoiding risk, and hoping things will get better. And as a change agent whose job it is to overhaul your company in a way that is massive and measurable, nor should you.

No matter what business you’re in, the key to your success will always be the quality of the people on your team. From your front-line foot soldiers to the back-room strategists, in order for your company to succeed in the cutthroat world of business, you have to know that every one of them is ready, willing, and able to go the distance with you.

If not, it’s time to fire the dead weight and hire new blood. It’s easy to say and hard to put into practice, but it’s crucial to your success.

How crucial?

In my bestselling book, “Running the Gauntlet,” I talk a great deal about the importance of changing a mood of a company as a necessary first step towards changing its culture.
And integral to changing the mood is making sure you’ve got the right people in place.

Avoid firing people, and you might as well try to teach a pig to kiss

Anytime I’m invited to speak to an audience of C-suite execs about turning around a company, effecting massive change, and reaping the financial rewards that come as a result, I always get a chuckle when I liken holding onto employees that no longer fit in with the vision you have for your company to teaching pigs to kiss. As I point out, you can do it, but it’s a messy job.

And it really pisses off the pig.

It’s far easier (and a lot cleaner) to get rid of those employees who aren’t working and trade up for talent that will. This involves identifying those who can’t (or won’t) change as well as those who don’t believe that they need to change in order to be successful, and then firing them.

You hear talk all the time about how hiring the right people is an art, and there’s a lot of wisdom to that statement. But the flip side to that coin is the art of firing those who can’t handle the course to success you’ve charted.

If you’re not there already, chances are good that the time is coming when you’ll need to make some tough decisions about who to keep on and who to let go. Like others in your position, you might find yourself hemming and hawing over your decision, finding every excuse in the book to avoid actually taking action.

These excuses run the gamut, with executives citing everything from the high cost of searching for new talent or the effect of unemployment on insurance costs, to the fact that deep down, they are holding out hope that with a little bit of help or retraining, under-performers will somehow change to become star employees. And then there’s the fear of making a mistake in firing someone and the fear of how letting people go will make the company look to those on the outside.

Yes, yes, yes. Blah, blah, blah.

The truth of the matter is, if someone’s not a right fit, they need to go. Yesterday. When I’ve had to make personnel changes, once the dust has settled I have never felt I made a mistake in firing someone. In fact, more often than not, I often think I should have done it sooner.

It’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it: Three steps to firing with confidence

If the writing’s on the wall for some of the employees at your company, now’s the time to take immediate and decisive action to trim the fat and make room for new talent.

Yes, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. If that someone is you, use my three-step process for making the job as painless — and effective — a proposition as you can for all involved:

Be clear on your conditions of satisfaction first
No matter what your battle plan for success is, or who it involves, a necessary first step is that you get very clear on your conditions for satisfaction, and then share these with your team.

These are so important to your company’s success that I spend a considerable amount of time on the subject in both “Running the Gauntlet” and my earlier book, “The Mirror Test.” Without clearly defined conditions of satisfaction, you miss out on a few key ingredients to success:

  • You won’t be able to sell your endgame to your people.
  • You won’t have a prayer of tackling head-on those feelings that often blind your people to the fact that change is needed — or to the reality that it’s time for some of them to move on.
  • You won’t have any way of pinpointing what your desired end result looks like or knowing whether or not something is working to keep you on track.

When you align your teams around the company’s conditions of satisfaction, you build a foundation for success. Those that get your vision will serve as a cornerstone for that success; those that don’t, won’t. Identifying and sharing your conditions of satisfaction brings into focus who falls into these categories, making it easier for you to decide who to keep and who to let go.

Gather feedback from the rank and file
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to identify who’s pulling their weight and who’s dead weight in a company is by asking your best employees. As with everything else, there’s an art to this (you don’t want your employees to feel like tattletales). The best approach is to ask them honestly and to let them know that what they share with you is in confidence.

I’ve found that asking trusted employees for this kind of information not only makes the process that much more fool-proof (how often have you had someone come up to you after you’ve fired one of their colleagues to confirm that you made the right choice?) but also empowers your best people who are honored to have earned your trust.

And I don’t know about you, but those are exactly the kind of people I want to go into battle with, confident that they’ve got my back, just as I’ve got theirs.

Stop thinking about “why not,” and act!
My friend Miles Young, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide’s CEO, once told me that whenever he sees anything that’s not working in business, the first thing he does is to take a look at the people around the problem. “Things don’t break by themselves,” Young said, “they get broken as a result of negligence or mistakes.”

Once you’ve laid out your conditions for satisfaction, you know where those conditions aren’t being met, and you have identified the people around the problem, as Young puts it, it’s time to take action. No more beating around the bush, thinking of all the reasons why not to let someone go. A company can only move as fast as its lowest common denominator, which means if you’re going to succeed, you’ve got to let go of those who aren’t cutting it.

If firing people isn’t your thing, get someone to do it for you. However you go about it, get it done. Nothing negatively affects a company’s morale like employees who aren’t a good fit, and chances are those who need to be fired already know that they’re the odd man out living on borrowed time as it is. Giving them the push out the door into something bigger and better won’t just improve the performance of those who stay to build the company; it could be exactly what the person you’ve let go needs in order to grow.

Give your company a fighting chance to succeed

There’s an old saying that goes, “An army marches on its stomach.” These days, while you might not literally be leading troops into battle, you are waging war on a battleground of sorts: the marketplace.

This means that your army feeds on trust and empowerment. And if it’s going to march at all, it’s got to march in unison.

Fill your rank and file with those who share your vision and are ready and willing to follow you into battle, and fire the others. In doing so, you’ll give your company the fighting chance it needs to succeed on today’s battlefield.

Jeffrey Hayzlett is a global business celebrity, TV commentator, bestselling author, and sometimes cowboy.