Recently I was asked to answer some questions for a magazine based in India. The answers may be helpful for those looking to decontaminate toxic people and handle difficult situations! My answers are in ALL CAPS and I’m really not screaming!
Q. People are usually unaware of their toxic behaviour and are mostly driven by their senses. They generally do not judge their actions and impact they have on others. What role can HR play in handling the people who are negative in approach, arrogant, aggressive? CALL THE BEHAVIOR AND RELAY THE CONSEQUENCES OF CONTINUALLY USING POOR BEHAVIOR. I ALSO BELIEVE THAT JOB DESCRIPTIONS HAVE TO INCLUDE ‘SOFT SKILLS’ SUCH AS RESOLVING CONFLICT, BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS, COMMUNICATING TO BE UNDERSTOOD, AND SUCH. THIS ELIMINATES THE ‘I DIDN’T KNOW’ ASPECT FROM THE EMPLOYEE.
Q. What should be done by a subordinate when his/her reporting managers are a group of people with difficult personalities? BE ASSERTIVE BY USING AN ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION MODEL. PERHAPS APPROACH SAYING ‘I NEED YOUR HELP. IN AN EFFORT TO KEEP OUR TEAM ON TRACK AND PROVIDE A POSITIVE OUTLOOK, WHAT FACTORS DO YOU THINK ARE IMPORTANT? BUILDING GROUND RULES WITH THE TEAM IS SOMETHING I’M GOING TO TRY AND I NEED YOUR SUPPORT. WHAT GROUND RULES DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD TEST? KEEPING A POSITIVE ATTITUDE? PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY IN RESOLVING CONFLICT? ADDRESSING DIFFICULT PEOPLE DIRECTLY? WHAT DO YOU THINK?’ ASK THEM TO BE PART OF THE SOLUTION.
Q. A lot of people lay stress on making the difficult people disappear from the organisation? Does it work? SOMETIMES. IT CAN BE JUST ONE PERSON. TYPICALLY. HOWEVER, IT IS THE WAY THE COMMUNICATION IS TRANSMITTED BY THE LEADER. AFTER A DIFFICULT PERSON DEPARTS FROM THE COMPANY, I RECOMMEND THAT THE GROUP GET TOGETHER AND DISCUSS HOW MUCH RESPONSIBILITY THEY HAD IN THAT PERSON’S POOR BEHAVIOR. AND THEN FIGURE OUT WHAT THEY CAN DO NEXT TIME TO BUILD A BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH A NEW EMPLOYEE.
Q. Give some unique examples where the HR of an organisation had utilised the difficult personality traits on people in increasing the productivity and business efficiency.
1. BUILD SELF-AWARENESS AND LET PEOPLE KNOW THAT THEIR INDIVIDUAL BEHAVIOR DOES IMPACT THE GROUP. SET EXPECTATIONS WITH THE EMPLOYEE AND DETERMINE WHAT THE CONSEQUENCES SHOULD BE.
2. DETERMINE BUILDING BLOCKS AND ULTIMATELY CONSEQUENCES IN ADDRESSING DIFFICULT PERSONALITY TRAITS
3. MY FAVORITE IS USE A LEADERSHIP SCORECARD FOR A 360-DEGREE VIEW OF THE PERCEPTION OTHERS HAVE OF AN INDIVIDUAL. (LET ME KNOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE A SAMPLE) THEN SET GOALS FOR YOURSELF AROUND WHERE YOU THINK YOU ARE AND HOW OTHERS ACTUALLY PERCEIVE YOU.