How to Work With Difficult People
By Marilyn Vinch
When you run your own small business, it is your responsibility to learn to work well with all sorts of different people – and if you do it well, you should see your business flourish. Unfortunately, you may find that the most talented workers are not always the nicest people to work with. If this is the case, there are a number of techniques you can use to figure out a better way to work with them – and prevent their difficult nature from causing problems with your other colleagues and customers.
To start with, it’s important to remember that you are, after all, the boss. Setting some boundaries will help to clear the air and give you a reference point to use when your employee oversteps the mark. For instance, while you don’t want a company of ‘yes men’, you might institute a rule that nobody should interrupt each other while speaking. If they think they know better, they should pay you the respect of waiting for you to finishing your thought before responding with a suggestion.
Communication can also be a real tripping point in a small business. If you find that mistakes are regularly being made because your trouble employee is not listening properly, or is misunderstanding or misinterpreting your instructions, you will both benefit from finding a better way to communicate. Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself, or to ask your employee to repeat back to you what they believe your instructions entail. If it helps, follow up meetings and briefings with bullet-pointed emails. Again, this means you always have a point of reference if trouble arises.
But perhaps most important of all is to retain a sense of empathy. Nobody is ‘evil’, although people can be lazy, insecure, or arrogant, with apparently malevolent results. Try to get to the root of what is causing your difficult employee’s attitude problem, and if you can’t resolve the issue for them you can at least work with it. For example, it may be as simple as the fact that they feel undervalued or passive in their role – and this could be because you are barking orders at them, rather than taking the time to make eye contact, make civilized requests, and ask for ideas. Or they could be snappy and uncommunicative because they feel out of their depth, with a workload that is either too much or too difficult.
For a full rundown on the techniques, you can use to counter such issues, check out NetCredit’s new guide. Your employees are the most valuable asset of your small business, so figuring out how to work with them will mean a better outcome for all involved.
About Marilyn Vinch