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MANAGING STAFF

Surviving seven types of nightmare personalities

They may do good work but their obnoxious personalities spawn resentment and negativity.

Don’t hesitate to strike hard at negative staffers, says Blaine M. Loomer, a management consultant and author of the book, “Corporate Bullsh*t: A Survival Guide.” Let them carry on and the office can get more unpleasant every day—for both management and staff.

He lists the seven most aggravating personality types and what to do about them.

The tattletale

This is the squealer and the gossipmonger.

Tattletales get by because the people on the receiving end of the gossip usually protect their anonymity.

The biggest enemy of a tattletale is “full disclosure,” Loomer says. When Staffer Tattletale comes in with gossip about Staffer A, say: “Let’s bring Staffer A in here to discuss this situation” or “Let’s get everyone together and get to the bottom of this.”

They’ll back off and they won’t come back. The last thing they want to do is confront their victim.

The networker

Networkers spend most of their time talking.

They tell everybody how hard they work, and when they work they may do a good job. But the bulk of their time is spent talking.

The solution is to be blunt: “You have your job to do. Quit running around the office shooting the breeze with everybody.”

The politician

This staffer thinks getting ahead comes from sucking up to the manager rather than from hard work.

Politicians are easy to spot, according to Loomer. “They’re the ones popping in on the boss every five minutes to declare their worth,” he says. Everybody wants recognition but constant interruptions are timewasters.

The only solution is to be direct: “You don’t need to come in here three times a day. If you like, set a time to give me a summary of what’s happening or send me an email.”

If that doesn’t work, spell it out: “I’m paying you to do a job. You don’t need my approval. If you have problems, talk to me. But it doesn’t do you or me any good for you to spend your time in my office when you should be doing your work.”

The taskmaster

Taskmasters take on projects, delegate the work to other people, and then soak up the credit.

And they aren’t subtle about it either. They’ll look the manager straight in the eye and claim to have done the entire project.

Suspect a taskmaster? Do a little snooping. Find out who wrote the document. Or look at the emails to see who was doing what. Then call the taskmaster to task with, “I see So-and-So helped with this project. Can you fill me in on what she was doing?” This says the manager knows full well what’s going on.

And if the behavior continues, spare no words. Tell the taskmaster, “You need to do these things yourself. If you need more resources, I’ll provide them. But don’t have everybody else doing your work.”

The funeral director

The funeral director works best in crisis mode and waits until the last minute to get things done. Then each task becomes the end of the world and doesn’t get finished on time.

Pad the schedule. Assign early deadlines. If something has to be done by Thursday, tell the funeral director to finish it by Monday and count on its getting finished midweek.

The rooster

Roosters sit on the fence and crow about themselves, but when it comes to making decisions, they stay on the fence. They’re afraid of making a wrong decision and winding up in a political disaster.

But they’re quick to criticize other people’s decisions and quick to point out their own lack of involvement: “I didn’t make that decision. So-and-So did.”

Roosters aren’t born this way. “They’ve been chased up the fence by wolves,” Loomer says. They’ve seen other people berated for mistakes and fear the same.

No manager can cure them. But it is possible for a manager to lessen their fear of taking chances. “Don’t be a wolf and jump down people’s throats when they make bad decisions,” Loomer says. Take the approach, “OK, we’ll fix it” and move on.

The flirt

The most dangerous of all is the office flirt.

Flirts start innocently enough with an email or an invitation to a social networking site. This is then followed by suggestions of being interested in more.

“Don’t get involved,” Loomer says, pointing out that nothing good can come of it. “People have lost their families and their jobs over affairs with people they worked with.”

Don’t accept social invitations from a suspected flirt. If there’s an office function, mingle with the crowd and don’t wind up alone with that person.

If the flirting persists, be direct: “I manage this office. Your behavior is counterproductive and is spawning rumors. It has to stop. If it doesn’t, I will have to take further action.”

And don’t suffer alone. Tell the managing physician or human resources director what’s happening. Also document what the flirt says and the responses given to evidence a sincere effort to end the problem.


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