Managing Difficult People

As everyone who has worked in an office environment knows, not every co-worker is happy, productive and helpful. Human beings come in all shapes and sizes. For whatever reason, some people simply do not work and play well with others. While a co-worker has little recourse, the manager has a responsibility to address this issue and find a solution that ensures the whole team is not damaged by this one individual.

Managing Difficult People by Marilyn Pincus does not expect you to become a psychotherapist. In fact, she says flat out that in most cases it doesn't matter WHY the person is the way they are. Maybe it was childhood trauma, maybe it is a rough home situation. You can never "fix" a person. What you have to do, as a manager, is learn how to set up an environment that minimizes this person's negative impact on the group - and gives the individual the best possible chance to succeed.

The book breaks problems out into main categories - the bully, the procrastinator, and so on. Most people have different traits co-mingled, but if you work on issues one by one, that gives you the best chance of success. For each issue, the book goes step by step through techniques that work with that type of person, including examples.

I'm very happy that this book is also realistic about what you can hope to achieve. Where other books make you think that ANY problem can be solved, this book lays out when it's time to take further action, including documenting the issue, working to fire the person and even to bring in legal help. Not every situation can be resolved.

You can certainly just read through the book from start to finish, but where most books you read once and then donate to your local library, this one is a keeper. If an employee suddenly starts being late all the time, you can go back and re-read the chapter on procrastinators and learn some techniques to help them out.

Highly recommended!

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