Tips and Techniques to Manage Difficult People

Posts Tagged ‘Feedback’

The Power of Positive Feedback

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As a manager, I assume you want a highly motivated team, who deliver results, and make your job easier.

Well, when you see, or hear, or are aware of something that a member of your team does well – you need to tell them about it. It needs to be done now, not next week, next month or at the next appraisal. If you delay, it’ll have lost its impact, and your team member, possibly, won’t remember what you’re talking about. This is about a compliment or a thank you.

Some managers still have a problem with this. They seem to think that they’re thanking an employee for simply doing what they’re paid to do. Well let me assure you, this is immensely powerful. It will cut down the problems you may have with members of your team, reduce negativity, and contribute massively to your productivity.

One of the biggest complaints from employees is that, they receive no appreciation for the job that they do. We all want acknowledgement, acceptance and a thank you.

It’s exactly the same in your private life. If you want your children do well at school, concentrate on what they do well and give them lots of positive feed back. This will encourage and motivate them to do even better and probably improve the subjects they’re not doing so well in.

The other benefit to giving positive feedback is this. If you do this regularly; when the time comes to give some less than positive feedback, it is more likely to be accepted. Your team members will see you as a fair and straightforward leader, who always tells them when they’re doing well and when not so well.

And if you still have any doubts about this; think for a moment when someone, your boss, a teacher, or someone else in your life, gave you some positive feedback. How did you feel, did it motivate you to do even better? I’m sure it did!

When someone does something good, applaud! You will make two people happy – Samuel Goldwyn

Adapted from my book – How to Manage Difficult People. Now available as a Kindle Edition by clicking this link.

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If you Want Results – Take Action!

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Do you ever make demands of your manager? I recently spent some time with middle managers in a large call centre. They were having difficulty motivating their teams to deliver good customer service.

I helped them resolve many of their management issues. However, they expressed concern that their senior manager wasn’t providing enough support and wasn’t making himself visible to the teams. They felt that it would help motivation if he spent more time on the floor of the call centre. It would be motivational if introduced himself, and had a chat with some of the customer service operators.

I asked the managers what they were going to do about this situation. They felt they couldn’t do anything, and it was up to the senior manager to speak to the teams. I suggested to the managers – “Why don’t you ask him?” This question was greeted with comments such as – “It isn’t our job to ask him; he should know what he needs to do.”

A week later, Dave one of the managers, approached me. “I asked the boss to come and speak to my team” he said. “It was great, went really well and the team appreciated him talking the time to answer their questions.”

Senior mangers most often know what they should be doing as far as communicating with their people. However, they have their insecurities and time pressures just like everyone else. Sometimes, they just want to be asked.

So take action, be brave and ask them, if you want results!

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If You Want Results – Take Action

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10 Tips to Manage a Difficult Boss

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Does your boss 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.

When I’m running a seminar or workshop on Leadership, Sales or Customer Service, the comment I hear most is – “How can I achieve this Alan when my boss doesn’t motivate me, and makes my life difficult?”

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

One of the best ways to motivate and deal with difficult people 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 boss. 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 how your boss needs to change, because that’s unlikely to happen unless you do something about it.

The rules for giving your boss feedback are:

1. Do it ASAP – When your boss 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.

2. Do it in private – You really don’t want members of your team or your colleagues hearing what you say to your boss, be it good or bad.

3. Check that it’s okay to speak – Make sure that you have your boss’s full attention. There’s no point in trying to make your point if they have something else on their mind or they’re working on their computer. It’s also good manners and shows respect.

4. Announce your intentions – If your boss 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 its 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 – “Linda, I’d just like to thank you for something you did today.”

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

5. 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 feel embarrassed in front of my team members. Would you be prepared to speak to me in private in future?”

6. Focus on one thing at a time – Don’t confuse your boss 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 it may come across as a whinge.

7. Be specific – When you’re giving your boss 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 boss’s behaviour in terms of how they said or did something. That’s what you’re giving feedback on, not them as a person.

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 layout 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?”

8. 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.

9. Get input – When giving constructive feedback, it’s important to get the boss’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.”

10. 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 boss; it’s about job related behaviour. Think about how you feel when someone speaks to you about something they’re unhappy about. It can leave you low and possibly stressed.

Some years ago after a particularly ‘difficult’ meeting with my sales team I was feeling a bit low. However, at the end of the meeting one of the team said – “Alan, we’re all going for a beer and we want you to join us. We have no hard feeling towards you and we like you as our boss.” You can bet that made me feel good.

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 people 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 rules above.

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

 

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How to Give Effective Feedback

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When was the last time you had some feedback from your boss? And when was the last time you gave feedback to members of your team?

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.

And yet, research suggests that 68% of employees never receive any feedback. That is probably because managers don’t see the value, don’t make the time, or don’t know how to do it.

Remember, we’re talking about giving people feedback on what we do like about their work and what we don’t like; the same rules apply.

Here are 9 tips to make it effective and produce results.

1. Do it right away – It’s not much good telling someone about a job well done six weeks later. They will not be clear what you are talking about. And if you don’t immediately draw someone’s attention to something you’re not happy about, then they’ll assume it doesn’t matter, you didn’t notice, or you don’t care.

2. Do it in private – Whether it’s the good news or not so good, do it in private. Don’t do it in front of colleagues or, worse still, a customer. Whether it is good or bad, it can cause embarrassment and lower the morale of the team.

3. Ask the person if it’s ok to speak – Treat your staff with respect and courtesy. Your staff will appreciate you not assuming that you can interrupt their work anytime you feel like it.

4. Announce your intentions – Tell the staff member up front what to expect, whether it’s some positive feedback or otherwise. Sad to say, when you start a feedback culture, your staff will tend to expect only the bad news, and you may get some resistance. However, persevere and in time they’ll start to realise that you are consistent and fair in your feedback.

5. Use ‘I’ messages – Tell the person how you feel, get personally involved. Say things like: “I like the way you told that customer about our new service.” Or: “I believe there is another way you could have handled that situation and I’d like your thoughts.”

6. Avoid ‘You’ messages – don’t say: “You’re doing a great job!” Or: “You’re doing that all wrong!” ‘You’ can sound patronising when you’re giving the good news, and accusing when giving the not so good.

7. Be specific – Focus one thing at a time and describe what you’re talking about. Don’t confuse the person with more information than you need to make your point. Also, focus on job related behaviour, not the personality of the individual.

8. Get the person’s input – Listen to what they have to say. If you are giving constructive feedback; get agreement as to what the person will do differently in the future. Allow time for the message to be absorbed, and let them have their say. Set a date to check on progress, agree this with the person, and make sure you do it.

9. Let the person know that you value him or her – This is important, because it is the person’s behaviour you are giving feedback on, not the person. Your people should emerge from a feedback session with their self-worth intact.

Make your life easier; put this to the test right away, and you will have a happy and motivated team who deliver results.

To listen to this article or download it to your MP3 player; please click here.

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Motivate Staff with Simple Feedback

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When was the last time you gave a member of your staff some feedback? The feedback I’m talking about here isn’t some sort of formalised appraisal that takes place with your staff every month, or every six months or once a year. I’m talking about feedback that happens continually and takes place when you see, or hear something you want to give feedback on.

The trick is – keep it simple! If you see or hear something you do like – you tell the staff member about it. If you see or hear something you don’t like, or feel could be done better – you tell them about it and you coach them.

When you’re speaking with a member of your staff, it’s important to focus on one thing at a time; keep it simple, don’t confuse them with a whole list of behaviours.

Go for impact

If you were giving some positive feedback you don’t want to be saying – “I really like the way you deal with difficult customers and you have a great telephone manner. You always get your reports in on time and it’s great that you’re achieving your target!” You’re only diluting the whole feedback and it loses its impact.

Don’t confuse

If it’s some not so good feedback, then you don’t want to confuse the staff member with a whole catalogue of behaviours that you’re unhappy about. “You’ve been late three times this week, your reports are always late and I don’t like the way you speak to customers on the phone.”

Sadly, some managers don’t give feedback on poor behaviour immediately. They allow things to go on and on and then they eventually explode. It’s much better to deal with behaviour as and when it happens be it good or not so good – and keep it simple!

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Motivate Staff with Simple Feedback


How to Manage Difficult People Book Review

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The winner’s a loser
Posted in Books, Living by Rrishi on 25 December 2010

OVERLEAF 86

The last passenger into the plane had a large carry-on bag — large enough that there was no space left for it. An airhostess trotted up to ask him to let the staff put it in the hold instead. The passenger looked like an office-goer in his late thirties. He took the standard recourse of the thwarted Indian: milking his status. He looked down at her and spoke loudly, demanding to know why the check-in staff had not told him about this, and how inconvenient it was to be held up at arrival by having to wait for his luggage at the carousel.

The airhostess was unable to deflect the tantrum. So along came backup, in the form of a tall, uniformed member of the ground staff. Looking down at the passenger he said, sir, we don’t have any choice, yes sir, the fault is entirely ours, we should have told you, yes, it’s totally our mistake, you’re right, I’ll put your bag in the hold myself, sir, I’ll personally make sure you get it back in Delhi, sir — never mind that he wasn’t going to be there. He didn’t stop speaking or apologising. The passenger buckled, and after a last splutter (“You better make sure”) he let the bag go. Off to the hold it went, borne aloft by the victor.

Textbook angry-customer management, you might say — except for the look of amused superiority on the staffer’s face, and the unmistakeable closing equation of winner-loser. Conveying the impression of servile implacability was probably part of the steward’s winning combination, but to me the whole incident felt ugly.

I forgot about it, though, until this week a pile of 10 review copies of self-help books landed on my desk, all from Rupa Publications. Sorting them, I put the “how to make a fortune” titles in one pile, the spirituality and “how to pay less for more” titles in another pile (amounts to the same thing: the beatitude of the adept consumer), and then set aside the last three to enjoy.

First was Corporate Grooming and Etiquette by Sarvesh Gulati, one of only two titles by an Indian (the other was How to Make a Fortune on the Internet). Gulati, says the cover, has held senior-sounding posts in IT companies (that I’ve never heard of). The book is slim but compulsive. It’s full of advice on how to dress, speak, behave at parties and meetings and in the office loo, how to shake hands, sit, stand, use forks and knives and other tricky table implements, how to introduce yourself and other people, deal with travel (“Be Patient”), and so on. It’s amusing and revelatory, but peculiarly mixed period-wise: yes to tips on cellphone etiquette, but no to cutlery tips on seven-course haute-cuisine dinners.

Second was How to Succeed at Interviews, by “Dr” Rob Yeung, a ruthlessly practical guide to pulling one over on your interviewers. Dr Yeung helps companies design interviews; here he plays “gamekeeper turned poacher” and explains all the tricks. The point, per Dr Yeung, is to get the job at almost any cost to your morals. “You may be tempted to lie about your grades in future job applications,” he writes. “But be extremely careful as such facts are very easily checked by employers.” Not “Don’t lie,” but “Don’t get caught.” I loved it. Dr Yeung has an impressively broad cranium.

Last was nicest: How to Manage Difficult People, by Alan Fairweather. Fairweather explains that anyone can be difficult, and often the cause is yourself. I loved that he kept the focus on the reader, in a wholesome way. Rather than pretending to be something to “win” something, he says what works is actually being better and happier. This happens when you pay attention to your reactions, and when you have a multifaceted life. Swim, he says, read, learn to dance.

In India, we’re still stuck between two etiquette systems — the one our parents grew up with, linked to language, caste and place, and the one that is involved in doing business with the West. The result is that we master neither. Both the first two books, and especially the first, say we must convey an impression of sophistication and restraint — but only so as to get what we want. The steward on the aeroplane followed, superficially, the rules of managing difficult people. He did not put the passenger’s back up, and got him to give up his carry-on luggage. But the truth is in the bitter aftertaste — I win, you lose, sir.

Manage Difficult People Using Assertiveness

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You can listen to this article or download it to your MP3 player

Do you understand the difference between Submissive, Aggressive and Assertive behaviour?

I’m not sure a lot of people do, because I hear comments such as – “He’s very assertive!” or “How do you manage people who are too assertive?” What these people are really commenting on, is others, who are aggressive and not assertive. So what’s the difference?

Assertive behaviour is positive; it will help you communicate clearly and confidently your needs, wants and feelings to other people without abusing in any way their human rights.

It will produce better results when managing a difficult person, and it can be learned. Let’s look a bit closer at each type of behaviour.

Submissive

I’m sure you’re familiar with the ‘fight or flight’ responses. These are inbuilt programmes to help you survive and deal with different situations; we all use them as appropriate. Submissive behaviour is the flight response. It’s natural behaviour and depending on your upbringing, you may develop it throughout your life. People, who are submissive, tend to:

  • Avoid stating their needs and feelings
  • Communicate their needs and feelings in an apologetic way
  • Give others rights that they don’t take for themselves

Submissive behaviour sounds like this:

“I’m really sorry; I just don’t have the time to go through those reports with you just now. I’ve got to get all these accounts finished before lunch time. My boss is a real pain, asking me to do this today. I’d really like to help you; I’ll look at it later if that’s okay?”

Aggressive

Aggressive behaviour is the fight response. Again, this is an inbuilt programme that can be developed throughout your life. If we learn that we can achieve things by using aggressive behaviour, we continue to develop it. Naturally, this is to the detriment of our relationships with other people. People who are aggressive tend to:

  • Encourage others to do things by flattery or manipulation
  • Ignore the needs and feelings of others, either intentionally or by default
  • Take rights for themselves that they don’t to give to others

Aggressive behaviour sounds like this:

“Do you think I’ve nothing better to do than check those reports?”

Assertive

This is logical, thinking behaviour; it is not driven by your emotions. And although it may be natural for a few people, it tends to be learned behaviour. It’s about:

  • Being clear and direct in what you say
  • Stating your needs and feelings in an straightforward way
  • Standing up for your rights without violating the rights of others

Assertive behaviour sounds like this – “I’m unable to help you with those reports this morning. I am doing accounts at the moment, and I’ll be pleased to help you this afternoon. What time suits you?”

None of this is good or bad; it’s just the way we are. But if you want to be better at managing difficult people, you need to ensure that:

a)      You don’t use Submissive or Aggressive behaviour.

b)      You recognise Submissive or Aggressive behaviour in others

c)      You learn and use Assertive techniques with difficult people

Assertiveness is a very positive response in any interaction. It makes it clear to the other person what you’re unhappy about, and allows you to calmly state your case without violating their rights. And of course, that will make life much less stressful for you!

There are more assertiveness techniques, to make your life easier, in my book – How to Manage Difficult People.

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How to Motivate Your Manager – 10 tips for success

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Let me ask you a simple question – does your manager motivate you? If you’re lucky then the answer will be yes. However, when I’m running a seminar for managers and team leaders on team motivation, the comment I hear most is – “How can I motivate my team when my manager doesn’t motivate me?” So the next question is – what are you going to do about it?

One of the best ways to motivate your team 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 take some action. There’s no point in saying that your manager needs 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 team.

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.

2. 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.

3. Check that it’s okay to speak – Make sure that you have your manager’s full attention. There’s no point in trying to make your point if they have something else on their mind or they’re working on their computer. It’s also good manners and shows respect.

4. 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, or your about to complain about something or you’ve done something wrong or there’s a problem.
It’s important therefore to tell them up front what you want to speak about.
You might say – “Linda, I’d just like to thank you for something you did today.” Or if it’s something you don’t like you might say – “Linda, I’d just like to talk about something you said today that I’m uncomfortable about.”

5. Tell them how YOU feel about their behaviour
– This is nothing to do with any one 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?”

6. 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 it may come across as a whinge.

7. 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.
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 layout 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?”

8. 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.

9. 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.”

10. 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. Some years ago after a particularly “difficult” meeting with my sales team I was feeling a bit low. However, at the end of the meeting one of the team said – “Alan, we’re all going for a beer and we want you to join us. We have no hard feeling towards you and we like you as our manager.” You can bet that made me feel good.

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 rules above. If you follow these rules, then you’re much less likely to be seen as a whinger.

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