When dealing with an employee who people complain is odd or just don’t get along with, many managers will eventually let that person go.
But firing a “high-maintenance” staffer may not always be the best course of action. Case in point: The difficult staffer may be talented at his or her job. They may possess the kind of institutional knowledge that’s not easy to replace.
They may also produce better work, on average, than some of the people who get along with everyone. And a difficult person may have certain skills that others can’t be matched.
Bottom line: If you’re already feeling short-staffed, losing a good but prickly employee can hurt you. The good news is, with a little bit of patience from people, you may be able to salvage a difficult staffer with some extra effort.
Here are three of the most common difficult personalities and the best ways for dealing with them:
1. The power junkie
Description: This person likes nothing more than dominating a discussion or taking the reins of any project in your department. And he’s not shy about sharing his opinion.
Others don’t appreciate the attitude or taking orders from this person, but he/she does get things accomplished.
Prescription: You must challenge the power junkie. When they’re out of line, confront them and let them know about it. Power junkies do respect strong authority.
At the same time, massage their ego occasionally. Ask for their opinion and praise their expertise.
When they know they’re valued, they’re less likely to aggressively take charge of every situation.
2. The withholder
Description: This person “forgets” to share important info with fellow staffers and isn’t a team player.
Prescription: Try not to scold this type. Fear of criticism is a key reason for withholding behavior.
Instead try to ask clarifying questions: “What steps did you take on that job?” and “Did you follow up with (his or her co-workers)?”
3. The grump
Description: This person’s rarely – if ever – enthused at work. And everyone around them notices.
Prescription: No shock here, but usually these people aren’t happy in their personal lives. (Or they just don’t like their job much!)
Make a point to ask how they’re doing and try including them in group discussion when you can.