How To Coach Difficult People Right Out Of Your Office

#HRPA2016 Session With Vanessa Judelman Set To Help Managers And HR

As Marnie walks toward me, I cringe. What is she going to complain about this time, I wonder? Sure enough, Marnie approaches my desk and starts complaining about a colleague’s behaviour in a team meeting.

We’ve all worked with difficult people like “Marnie”. Whether these individuals are complainers, have negative attitudes, are gloomy or combative, they suck both our time and energy. Yes, as an HR professional, part of your role is to support the people around you. Yet, many of us find that we are spending way too much time coaching challenging people.

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There is an alternative. It doesn’t have to be this way. Below I am going to share with you a four-step process for coaching your “time suckers” right out of your office! In other words, this process will ensure these individuals feel heard and yet are also focused on finding a solution and not dwelling on the problem at hand.

Step One: Change Myself

It is important to notice your behaviour when dealing with difficult people. What can their approach teach you about yourself? For example, if you let them walk all over you, do you need to be more assertive? As they push your buttons, do you become too impatient or quick tempered?  Use their negative behaviour as an opportunity for you to change your own ineffective patterns of behaviour.

Step Two: Switch Perspectives

In order to decrease your stress, try thinking about the problem from their perspective.

For example, consider their situation and say to yourself, “It must not be easy…(fill in the blank). This approach increases your level of empathy and can decrease your level of frustration during these difficult conversations.

Step Three: Have a Plan

If you can predict their behaviour, then you can develop a plan to address them productively. So, identify the specific behaviour is that is causing you stress. Then decide on a plan of action. For example, if your colleague complains endlessly, pick up the phone when they approach you.  Minimize the opportunity for them to dominate your time.

Step Four: Teach them to solve their own problems

This step will help you to cut through the drama and focus on the key issue. Ask your colleague “What is the issue/problem”? This powerful question will move them from staying stuck in their “story” closer towards a resolution. Then together you can brainstorm 3-5 possible solutions to their specific issue.  Then, prompt the complainer to move forward by asking him/her to “Choose the solution that you like best.”  Finally, ask him/her when and how they will implement the solution they selected.

People like Marnie will always be a part of the workforce. So, it is important to have a few strategies in your back pocket to minimize the drama and lead a positive discussion. The approach described above is respectful and solution based.  Rather than getting caught up in the drama, take an active approach to move into solution mode.

After all, to quote writer and activist Eldridge Cleaver, “You are either part of the solution or part of the problem.”

Join Vanessa Judelman for her presentation at #HRPA2016 to discover more about ways to better manage your people and get more from your teams.


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