Tips and Techniques to Manage Difficult People

Posts Tagged ‘Feedback’

10 Ways to Motivate a Difficult Manager

No Comments

Let me ask you a simple question; does your manager motivate you? Or do you find him or her difficult to deal with? If you’re lucky then it will be the former rather than the latter.article400_man_woman_motivate-420x0

It’s not my fault

When I’m running a seminar for managers on how to motivate their staff, the comment I hear most is – ‘How can I motivate my staff when my manager doesn’t motivate me, and even makes my life difficult?’

So the next question is – what are you going to do about it?

One way to do it

One of the best ways to motivate your staff is to give them feedback on their performance.

You tell them when they do things you do like and you tell them when they do things you don’t like.

It’s exactly the same with your manager.

Now I appreciate that we’re getting into scary territory here but you’re going to have to be brave and take some action.

There’s no point in going on about your manager needing to change, because that’s unlikely to happen – unless you do something about it.

The rules for giving your manager feedback are almost the same as those for your staff.

  1. Do it ASAP

When your manager says or does something you do or don’t like, you need to say something right away.

If it’s something you do like, it’s not much use saying something weeks later – ‘Thanks for helping me with that difficult customer last week Dave.

Dave is going to have a bit of a problem remembering that situation and the effect of the feedback is totally wasted.

It also makes sense to tell Dave about something you don’t like as soon as possible.

  1. Do it in private

You really don’t want members of your team or your colleagues hearing what you say to your manager be it good or bad.

  1. Check that it’s okay to speak

Make sure that you have your manager’s full attention. There’s no point in saying what you have to say if they have something else on their mind, or they’re working on their computer. It’s also good manners and shows respect.

  1. Announce your intentions

If your manager is not used to receiving feedback from you, what do you think runs through their mind when you pull up a chair or ring them on the phone – they think it’s bad news!

They think you’re about to complain about something, or you’ve done something wrong, or there’s a problem.

It’s important to tell them up front what you want to speak about.

You might say – ‘Laura, I’d just like to thank you for something you did today.’

Or if it’s something you don’t like you might say – ‘Laura, I’d just like to talk about something you said today that I’m uncomfortable about.’

  1. Tell them how YOU feel about their behaviour

This is nothing to do with anyone else. Don’t say things like – ‘The team don’t like the way you speak to us.’

Use lots of ‘I’ messages; say things like – ‘I’m unhappy with the way you told me how to do that job today. It made me felt embarrassed in front of my team members. Would you be prepared to speak to me in private in future?’

  1. Focus on one thing at a time

Don’t confuse your manager with a whole list of behaviours. If it’s things that you do like then you’re in danger of coming across as patronising. If it’s things that you don’t like, then you may come across as a whinger.

  1. Be specific

When you’re giving your manager feedback it’s important to focus on job-related behaviour and not on the personality of the individual.

If you feel a bit uncomfortable, try to focus on the manager’s behaviour in terms of how they said or did something. That’s what you’re giving feedback on, not them as a person.

Avoid ‘You’ messages. It becomes easier if you’re using ‘I’ messages and being very descriptive about what you’ve seen or heard.

You could say something like – ‘I liked the way you showed me how to lay out that report – thank you, Jeff.’  Or – ‘Jeff, I’m concerned by the way you told me how to do that report. It’s important for me to get it right, would you be prepared to spend a bit more time explaining what you require?’

  1. Include the customer and the organisation

Whenever appropriate; relate what your feedback is about, to how the customer or the business could be affected. This, of course, could be an internal or an external customer.

  1. Get input

When giving constructive feedback, it’s important to get the manager’s input.

You might say – ‘I’m unhappy with the number of tasks you’ve asked me to do this week, and I’m concerned that I may not be able to do them in the best interests of the business. However I’m willing to listen to what you have to say, and discuss how we can make efficient use of my time.’

  1. Don’t leave them low

This is particularly important after giving feedback on something you’re not happy about. This isn’t an attack on the manager; it’s about job-related behaviour.

Think about how you feel when one of your team speaks to you about something they’re unhappy about. It can leave you low and possibly stressed.

Finally – be brave

There’s still a culture in some organisations that doesn’t allow the boss to be challenged. It’s a case of – ‘The boss tells me what to do, and it’s my job to do as I’m told.’

It’s also the case that some managers don’t want to say anything to their boss for fear of being perceived as negative or a whinger.

Be brave and give your boss some positive feedback.

The occasional compliment or descriptive thank you will work wonders for your relationship.

And if the boss is doing or saying something you don’t like, give him or her some constructive feedback using the guidelines above.

If you follow these guidelines, then you’re much more likely to motivate your manager, manage any difficult situations, and achieve more positive results.

Excerpt from Loyalty Magazine

“All in all this is a really useful book that should be passed around the call centre, the sales team and even the family. After that, you should put it in a safe place for when you are having a bad day, and you need 51je1l11k3l-_uy250_a few suggestions”.


How to Make Your Life Easier as a Manager

No Comments

Are any of your staff lazy?

I’m sure they’re not. But what do you think about the people who work for you, and how does that influence how you manage and motivate them?

Something to think about

In 1960, Douglas McGregor, an American social scientist, published his book, The Human Side of Enterprise. In it he examined theories on the behaviour of individuals at work and he formulated two models; theory x and theory y. He advanced the idea that managers had a major part in motivating staff and he divided them into the two categories.

Theory x managers (authoritarian management style) believe that:

  • Their staff are lazy, dislike work and will avoid it if they can
  • Their staff prefer to be directed and dislike responsibility
  • They need explicit instructions and need to be threatened if they don’t do what they’re supposed to do
  • They are relatively unambitious and want security above all else

Theory y managers (participative management style) believe that:

  • Their staff really want to do their best at work
  • Their work is as natural as play or rest
  • Staff will direct themselves if committed to the objective of the organisation
  • Staff usually accept and often seek out responsibility under the proper conditions
  • In modern industry, the intellectual potential of the average person is only partly utilised

It’s all about results

McGregor maintained that many managers tend towards theory x and get poor results. Enlightened managers use theory y which allows people to grow, which in turn produces better performance and results.

It may not work everywhere

He suggested that theory y may be difficult to put into practise in large production, shop floor operations. It would be more appropriate in the managing of managers and professionals.

However, the bottom line to his theories is that; staff will contribute more to the organisation if they’re treated as responsible and valued employees.

It’s the way to go

 Theory y, as you might gather, has replaced theory x as the dominant management philosophy in many organisations.

In my career, I’ve worked for both types of managers and I know which type got the best out of me.

It still goes on

 In the organisations I work with now, I see both theory x and theory y managers. I can think of one very large organisation in the UK who primarily have a culture of x management and wild horses wouldn’t drag their name from my lips.

They mainly employ service engineers and attempt to control them by a whole range of policies, procedures and productivity management tools. When they attend my seminars, the engineers complain about their managers and the managers complain about the engineers. I still have a lot of work to do there!

How not to motivate your sales team

One company I’ve worked with issued an instruction to their sales force about a particular task they had to complete as part of their daily work. The instruction was delivered by a letter from the Sales Director. It stated that this task had to be carried out, he didn’t believe it was happening and anyone caught not doing it would receive a first written warning. Each sales person had to sign and return a copy of this letter.

This is theory x management and it comes from a Sales Director who doesn’t believe his sales people are carrying out the task so he threatens them with dismissal.

This organisation has regional managers who could have easily monitored the sales force performance on this task. The letter from the Sales Director is a further contribution to an already de-motivated sales force.

And if you want results

I’ve witnessed theory x and theory y management styles and I’ll tell you; theory x is a much harder route to go. As a manager, you make life so much harder for yourself, you end up micromanaging and you still don’t get the results.

So if you think you might be theory x, don’t be a masochist; don’t make life hard for yourself.

Be a theory y, and you’ll have happy, motivated and engaged staff.

And make your life easier!

If you want to know more, then check out this book:


One Way to Manage Difficult People

No Comments

Here is a really simple way to manage a difficult person. Buy my book How to Manage Difficult People, and smack them discussionround the head with it!

Okay, let’s get a little bit serious.

When you speak with another person, it will most certainly be on a business level. Almost all communication takes place on a business level.

Buying a bar of chocolate in a shop requires Business level communication. You say what you want – ‘I’d like a bar of fruit and nut chocolate, please.’

Or in the office: ‘Mary, please type this report and return it to me this afternoon.’

These Business level interactions could be so much better if you add a Human level.

Think about your experiences

I’d like you to think for a moment about a time when you had really exceptional customer service. Perhaps it was when you booked a holiday, dealt with a utility company, or bought something in a shop or a store. Think about it for a moment and write down what made this service so good. When I do this exercise with a group of people, they can always tell me all the bad stories. However, they eventually come forward with examples of good service and they say things like:

  • The person who dealt with me was really kind
  • They listened to me
  • They made me feel important
  • They went out of their way
  • They were very friendly
  • They used my name

Occasionally some people will say:

  • The service was fast
  • They delivered on time
  • The product or service did what they said it would

The first group of answer always outweighs the second group. In other words – people make decisions about the level of customer service based on the interactions they have with the people in the business.

The comments in the first group are Human level responses.

The comments in the second group are Business level responses and are taken as a given.

We expect goods or services to be delivered on time, and do what the supplier said they would.

Think about a job experience

In a similar situation; if I ask participants in a seminar, to describe a job that they enjoyed, and what made it a good place to work, they rarely say things like:

  • I was well paid
  • The working conditions were excellent
  • We had a first-class staff restaurant
  • I attended some great training courses
  • I felt I had job security

They are more likely to say:

  • My boss always listened to me
  • He made me feel my comments had value
  • She was firm but fair
  • Told me when I did something well
  • Helped me when I hadn’t done something well
  • Told me what was happening in the company
  • I had some great colleagues and we worked well together as a team

The comments in the first group are Business level response.

The comments in the second list are Human level responses.

When interacting with other people, particularly difficult people, Human level responses are vitally important. It doesn’t matter if it’s face to face, over the phone, or by e-mail. You need to mix the Human with the Business.

People often say to me:

‘I don’t have time for all this nicey-nicey, touchy-feely stuff; I need to get the job done.’

My answer to that is:

‘If you introduce some Human level responses with the people you interact with, be they customers or staff, then you will get the job done, better, faster, and with less mistakes.’

This isn’t about being nicey-nicey, it’s about meeting the human needs of every person you interact with.

Human beings are almost totally driven by their emotions. If you meet their human needs then you’ll make managing difficult people a whole lot easier.

Check out the book – How to Manage Difficult People7018_155572617408_699287408_2759755_4580853_n

Enhanced by Zemanta

How Not To Waste Your Management Time

No Comments

FocusLet me ask you a simple question; what do you believe a manager’s job is all about? What is it that managers do on a day to day basis?

Now, if you’re a manager, or you probably work for one, then you’d almost certainly be able to list a whole range of actions and activities. They might include: interviewing, solving problems, dealing with customers, planning, report writing, analysing data, dealing with complaints and hopefully, leading and motivating the people who report to them.

Many managers seem to believe that, over and above these activities, the prime function of their job is to identify weaknesses in members of their team, and resolve them. In other words, they relentlessly focus on the negative aspects of an employee’s job. They do this, at worst, by criticising, and reprimanding or, at best, by coaching or training.

Too much focus on the negative

I am aware of managers that spend a great deal of their time exploring an employee’s performance looking for some perceived fault or aspect that could be improved. Parents often focus on the negative aspects of a child’s school report rather than the positive.

Too many managers are spending too much time trying to change people.

They seem to believe that if they train people, tell them what to do or even threaten them with disciplinary action or the sack, then they can get them to change.

The successful manager concentrates on developing the strengths of their team members, not trying to correct their weaknesses.

Sometimes you have to manage around a weakness, but you can’t make people what they’re not.

I’m just not musical

When I was a teenager, my father sent me for piano lessons for about three years. He was determined that I would learn to play the piano. To this day I cannot play a note. I realise now, as an adult, that I am just not musical.

Strange as it may seem, I’m not particularly interested in music. My CD collection consists of about 6 CD’s which I rarely listen to. If I had attended piano lessons for even more years then I’m sure I could have become competent. However, I would never be any good at playing the piano.

Don’t waste your time

It’s a waste of time trying to correct weaknesses that can’t be sorted. Some people just can’t build relationships with customers, others can’t work as fast as you need them to, others can’t write a report to save their life, (and ‘certain other people’ will never be able to play the piano)

Build strengths

Your most productive time as a manager will be spent focussing on strengths and how to develop these further.

If you give people feedback on what they do well; then it is often the case that there is an improvement in what they don’t do so well.

By focussing on the positives, they feel more motivated to improve the negative aspects of their performance.

So there you have it; whether in your business or personal life, focus on the positive aspects of other people, not on the negatives.

Remember: People have one thing in common; they are all different.


10 Tips to Make Feedback Effective

No Comments

How often do you give feedback to your staff? And I don’t just mean when you want to correct some aspect of their interview 3behavior.

Feedback is one of the Top 3 factors that motivate people at work. The majority of employees want to know when they’re doing well, and when they could be doing better. There’s no doubt, that giving people feedback, is absolutely vital to ensure a motivated team who deliver results.

Whether you want to reinforce positive behavior or change unacceptable behavior, there are certain steps you need to follow to make it effective.

  1. Do it as soon as possible. When you see or hear something, you do or don’t like, you need to say something right away. If it’s positive feedback it’s not much use saying something months later.

It also makes sense to give constructive feedback as soon as you see, or hear something you don’t like. If you don’t do it right away, then the person will assume that you didn’t notice, or that it doesn’t matter, or that you don’t care.

  1. Do it in private. This seems like the most obvious thing to say but I still see managers giving a member of their team some positive feedback in front of other people be they colleagues or customers. Of course, it’s usually more of a reprimand. Some managers believe that if they’re seen and heard giving some feedback, then it will have an effect on the other team members, you bet it will – it’ll totally de-motivate them!


  1. Check that it’s okay to speak. If one of your team has just finished speaking to a customer on the phone, they might have some admin things to do before they forget. If you interrupt, then you risk being responsible for a customer not getting something they were promised.

It’s only good manners to check before speaking, and your people will respect you for it.

  1. Announce your intentions. If your people are not used to receiving regular feedback, what do you think runs through their mind when you pull up a chair, or ring them on the phone? You’re right, they think its bad news, that they’ve done something wrong, or there’s a problem.

It’s important therefore to tell them up front, what you want to speak about.

  1. Tell them how YOU feel about their behavior  Your people work for the same organisation as you, but it’s you they have to please. So make sure when you give feedback, it comes from you. That means not saying things like, ‘The company doesn’t like their employees to speak to customers like that.’ Or, ‘It’s not up to me, but you’d better improve your performance or you’ll be in trouble.’
  1. Focus on one thing at a time. Don’t confuse your team member with a whole list of behaviors. If it’s positive feedback then, you don’t want to list several things they’ve done well. You’re only diluting the whole feedback and it loses its impact.

If you’re giving constructive feedback, then you don’t want to confuse your team member with a whole catalog of behaviors that you’re unhappy about.

  1. Be specific. When you’re giving one of your team some feedback and coaching them, it’s so important to focus on job related behavior and not on the personality of the individual.

If you feel a bit uncomfortable giving feedback, try to focus on the person’s behavior on the job, in terms of how they conducted a particular task. That’s what you’re giving feedback on, not them as a person.

  1. Include the customer and the organisation. Whenever appropriate, relate what your feedback is about, to how the customer was affected. This of course could be an internal or an external customer. You could also relate it to how the organisation was affected, if relevant.
  1. Get input. When giving constructive feedback, it’s important to get the team members input. Listen to what they have to say and discuss how, you can, together, resolve the situation.

10. Don’t leave them low. This is particularly important after giving constructive feedback. As I said earlier, this isn’t an attack on the person; it’s about job related behavior. A team member should come out of a feedback session with their sense of self-worth intact.



Enhanced by Zemanta

Forget the Sandwich Technique | News Archives

No Comments

Forget the Sandwich Technique | News Archives.

Feedback Has To Be Genuine

No Comments

Sometimes on a seminar, I ask the group – ‘Who likes receiving compliments?’coaching2

Often only a minority will put up their hand. I then ask them – ‘Who likes receiving a genuine compliment?’

This time almost everyone puts up their hand. People often feel that a compliment isn’t really meant and they sometimes feel a bit patronised. That’s why it’s important that your affirming feedback is genuine and it sounds genuine. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it!

Affirming feedback is worth a fortune to you in terms of motivating your team and achieving your outcomes.

Sam Walton the founder of Wal-Mart once said – ‘Nothing Else can substitute for a few well chosen, well timed, sincere words of praise. They’re absolutely free and worth a fortune.’

How Do You Feel About Feedback?

No Comments

Someone once said – ‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions.’ Personally, I think that pancakes, crispy bacon and maplecustomer-feedbac-survey syrup are the breakfast of champions.

However there’s no doubt that giving your team members feedback is absolutely vital to ensure a motivated and engaged team who’ll deliver results

The majority of people want to know how they’re doing at work. They want to know when they’re doing well, and they want to know when they could be doing better. There are a small minority of people who don’t want feedback at all, but let’s face it; you don’t want these people on your team anyway.

Okay, so I’ll accept the fact that many people don’t want to hear bad things about their job performance. However, it depends on how they hear the bad news that’ll effect their motivation at work. I’m sure that you’d want to know whether you were doing your job okay; I know I would.

I’ve been on the receiving end

I used to run seminars on behalf of an American training company. Every so often they would send a senior training manager to sit in on my seminars for a day or two and give me feedback.

Inevitably, from time to time, I might conduct part of the seminar in a manner not quite in line with the way this training company wanted it done. When it came to giving me feedback I was left in no doubt that they wanted it done in a particular way. Of course the training manager also told me what she did like about my way of running the seminar.

At the end of these feedback sessions I can always remember feeling good about myself. I was receiving feedback that confirmed what I was doing well, and also some productive feedback that enabled me to do even better in the future.

Don’t give me the bad news

Like many people, I can be very sensitive to negative feedback. At the end of any seminar or workshop I scan the feedback forms looking for any comment that would dare to suggest that I hadn’t done a good job.

If you are a regular of my blog, (and if not why not) you’ll know that I’m always on about thinking and not reacting. Well I’ve learned to practise what I preach.

It’s easy for me to look at negative feedback on the forms and say – ‘You can’t please all the people all the time’ or ‘Who cares’ or ‘What do they know?’

Think, don’t react

I try to keep an open mind and think about what’s being said on the feedback forms. Is it something I should do something about? If this person didn’t like something that I said, maybe there were others who felt the same way but didn’t make any comment?

All I want to do in my job is be the best that I can be; so it’s important to listen to what my customers have to say.

So what do you feel about feedback?

You can give me some here if you want!


Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Motivate Your Employees – Accept Them

No Comments

Do you know one thing that is very important to most of your employees?great dane

If you want highly motivated and engaged employees then you need to be aware how important it is to understand them as individuals.

It’s important because it’s important to them.

As Dr Phillip C McGraw says in his book – Life Strategies – ‘The number one need among all people is acceptance.’

Your team want to know that you accept them from a work point of view but they also want you to accept them for just who they are.

Find out as much as you can about your employees; their background, where they’re from, families, pets hobbies, sports and their views on the world.

Find out their philosophies and faiths; how they think and how they feel. Just think about it like any other relationship – what do you want to know about this person?

Now I’m not suggesting you sit around all day gazing into each others eyes or spend half the night on the phone. I’m suggesting you do this over time and slowly but surely, build up your understanding of this person.

I also know that you’re starting to get a bit nervous about this and might think its prying. You’re also thinking that your team members won’t want you to get to know them that well. Let me reassure you – most of them will, if it’s done discretely.

Almost everyone wants to know that someone is genuinely and positively interested in them. They may not always give that impression by their demeanor but trust me – they want to know you care; they want acceptance from you.

If they know you care about them, that you accept them, then your relationship will be much more productive, and your business much more successful.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Feedback: The Good, The Bad, The Delivery

No Comments

By Alan Fairweather

How do you feel about feedback? Do you receive it from your manager; do you give feedback to your colleagues or coaching211friends?

We all feel different about feedback, because we are all different. Some people love it, others are okay with it, and others just hate it.

I’m sure that you have colleagues or people on your team who always want to know “how they’re doing”. They come and speak to you and show what they’re doing.  ‘Is this okay, am I doing this right?’ They’re constantly looking for reassurance that they’re doing the right thing.

Then you’ll have others who never come and speak to you at all, and get most uncomfortable whether you’re giving them the good news or the bad.

Feedback is one of the Top 3 factors that motivate people at work. The majority of employees want to know when they’re doing well and when they could be doing better.

There are managers who are happy to receive feedback from their boss and resultantly  are comfortable giving it to others, because they believe everyone feels the same way they do.

And of course, if you look at it the other way round; managers, who are less comfortable receiving feedback, tend to believe that their team feel the same way, and just don’t do it. The other danger is that, many managers don’t receive feedback from their boss and subconsciously feel, ‘Why should I give feedback to my guys when I don’t get it?’

Whether you receive feedback or not; whether you feel uncomfortable giving it or not – you still need to do it for your people. Just be aware that they’re all different individuals and they might react in different ways. Almost everyone wants feedback – how much, is just a matter of degree.

There are two types of feedback and a way of doing it.

 The Good

This is what we call, Confirming Feedback; telling a team member that you support whatever you’ve seen them do or heard them say; it’s a compliment or a thank you. It’s about ‘catching people doing something right.’

Successful managers realise that almost everyone reacts positively to Confirming feedback. They feel better about themselves and they feel motivated to repeat the behavior.

There is a saying that says, ‘You get more of what you reward.’

If you tell someone that you like the way they have completed some aspect of their work, then you’ll find that they continue to do that work in the same way or probably even better.

Confirming feedback is worth a fortune to you in terms of motivating your team and achieving your goals and targets.

The Bad

This is what we call, Productive Feedback on behaviour you’re not happy with. As you spend time with people, you’re going to hear and see things that may not ensure your outcomes.

Ask yourself, ‘Is this something that is going to stop me achieving my outcomes of a happy, motivated and engaged team who achieve their targets?’

If the answer is ‘no’ then you’re going to have to do something about it.

There are various things you can do:

  • You can ignore the behavior you’re not happy about
  • You can reprimand the person
  • You can coach them.

Coaching is not a soft option; it’s about finding out the cause of poor performance or behavior and discussing with the other person about how to put it right. You tell the other person what you’re not happy with, listen to what they have to say and agree a way forward.

The Delivery

Whether you want to reinforce behavior – Confirming Feedback, or change unacceptable behavior – Productive Feedback, there are certain steps you need to follow to make it work.

You need to do it as soon as possible and in private. Tell them how you feel about their behavior  not how the organisation or anyone else feels.

It’s important to focus on one thing at a time and don’t confuse the other person with a whole list of behaviors.

You need to be specific and get input from the other person. And most importantly; don’t leave them low!

If you get all of this right, you’ll have a highly motivated team who, increase customer satisfaction, boost sales and make a positive contribution to your business.


Enhanced by Zemanta