I personally struggle with term “managing people”, because I firmly believe that people cannot be managed – only processes and systems can. How many times have you heard it said – “Why won’t my employees just do as they are asked?”
Despite all our best efforts at “managing”, we have very little control over other people’s actions, including people that work with or for us. We can inspire, motivate, guide or threaten them, but choice to act in a certain way is up to individual.
Today’s workplaces are complex environments – it is a rare occasion when all employees get on together and work enthusiastically and constructively to achieve goals of business. Problem behavior on part of employees can erupt for a variety of reasons. Here are ten tips for dealing with it.
1.Recognize that problem behavior usually has a history It usually develops over time and seldom from a single incident. As a manager, it is your responsibility to be alert to early warning signs and deal with underlying causes before situation reaches a crisis.
2.Ask yourself: "Am I partly or wholly responsible?" If problem is in your team, then you are at least partly responsible for it. Perhaps you were blind to signs individual was undoubtedly leaving you, or you chose to ignore them and hope they would go away. Perhaps you hadn’t been managing that individual’s performance on a regular basis, and so missed an opportunity to discover problem earlier. Whatever reason, responsibility lies with you in some part.
You would be surprised how frequently it is manager who has created, or at least contributed to problems of employee behavior. Having an abrasive style, being unwilling to listen, and being inattentive to nuances of employee behavior are all factors that contribute to manager's need to thoroughly examine what is going on.
3.Don't focus only on overt behavior When confronted by an angry or upset employee, it's easy to attack person and target their behaviour rather than examine factors that underlie behavior. Often, this takes patience, careful probing, and a willingness to forgo judgment until you really understand situation.
4.Be attentive to "awkward silence" and to what is not said When an employee is obviously reluctant to communicate, it's almost a sure sign that more lurks beneath surface. Often, employees will hold back because they feel unsafe. They may test waters by airing a less severe or kindred issue in order to see what kind of a response they get. In order to get full story and encourage forthrightness, manager has to read between lines and offer concern and support necessary to get employee to open up.
5.Clarify before your confront Chances are, when an issue first surfaces, you will be given only a fragmentary and partial picture of problem. You may have to dig deep to surface important facts, and talk to others who may be involved. One safe assumption is that each person will tend to present case from his or her viewpoint, which may or may not be way it really is. Discretion and careful fact-finding are often required to get a true picture.