Sunday, March 30, 2008

Difficult People Bugging You?

If you work with difficult people, (and who doesn't?) try some Contagious Leadership steps and help cure the "bug" that may be infecting you and your office with stress, tension, and conflict.

1. Identify the Difficult People and Determine Who or What Issue You Will Focus on First.
There may be 8-10 difficult people or things that you see at your office. Working on all at once will drive you nuts. Pick one and put most of your energy into resolving it. OR - pick one and decide whether or not it is worth worrying about. If it is not, then let it go and stop spending time on it - for good. Having picked one to work on a contagious leader would....

2. Articulate What Makes This Person or Situation Difficult
Is the difficult part stemming from how different that person is from you or how their thinking differs from yours? If so, they are different, not difficult. This means that what that person does is not personal, it is merely their way of doing things. Teach them how to do different and follow up. If that doesn't work, value what about them you do like and stop taking the different parts so personally. After all, if we were ALL the same and thought the same way, how boring and lacking in creativity would that be.
Now, if they are difficult becuase of an attitude issue or lack of performance issue, these are addressed differently. Focus on the problem, NOT the person and convey the what and why of what you want them to do or act like. Your role as a leader includes keeping those that report to you accountable. It also means that you must follow up and conduct repeated course corrections. Waiting until they have completely messed something up and it is too late to fix it - is too late to address a problem. That conversation will only result in frustration for you and an erosion of confidence for that person. Address it early and often until the difficulty goes away.

3. Make Your Interest in Resolving the Difficulty Contagious
If you as the leader approach a problem with the belief that it has always been this way and always will be this way and "why do I bother" then seriously consider why, in fact, you ARE bothering to talk about it. Negativity breeds more of the same. APproach the situation with different ideas, a contagious enthusiasm (without the pom-poms!) to try something new and brign that person with you in the effort. If the difficult person sees an unmistakable, truly sincere interest from you to work on the issue, then you are more likely to get some kind of cooperation, instead of repeated resistance.

Stay Contagious and Happy Leading!

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