There are all kinds of ways to handle the office trouble-maker. It’s never easy managing difficult people but there are ways to do it. This article is about one way NOT to do it. As a boss you are going to have to deal with confrontational situations. A lot of people really don’t like confrontation. They do every thing they can to avoid it. One thing they do is capitulate. They give the trouble-maker whatever he or she wants. The idea is that if the boss gives them what they want then they will stop complaining and will be happy. I can tell you from seeing it happen a few times that they are never satisfied with one win. What those bosses are really doing is letting their problem people know that their tantrums worked.
This is a really bad route to go down. It seems to settle things down, for the moment. The lazy leader will feel he has fixed the problem. The next time your problem person gets upset you give them what they want again. And again the next time. And the next. All the while the problem person is beginning to feel like he’s the person in charge. He starts feeling like you should jump when he says he doesn’t like something. He starts feeling like the business should revolve around his wants and desires. Yes, I am talking about the Pseudo-Boss type personality being the problem person. These problem people often have a little clique of people around them. They tend to be problem people too but to a lesser degree. They are mainly followers. When they see that the complaining by the pseudo-boss is working they begin doing it too and the lazy leader will start giving in to them too.
All the while your good employees are watching. They are not complainers. They want a fair workplace. When they see problem people getting everything they want rather than being told no or even receiving disciplinary action those good workers will get so frustrated that they will either go to jobs in other departments or will leave the company all together. The only ones who won’t be gone will be the trouble-makers and the workplace bully. No one will want them. They will have a hard time finding different jobs so they stay there. Over time, as people get hired and others leave, more and more of the problem people will build up in the office and more and more of the good employees will leave.
So why would a boss do this to himself? Being lazy is one thing but letting problem people pretty much take over is something else. In both cases that I saw, the boss was not knowledgeable in the work being done. He was hired into a position that he didn’t know anything about. That’s not unusual. CEO’s do it all the time. The idea is that they know how to manage a department and people and the people who are there know how to do the job. That is a workable scenario. However, when a boss is so lacking in confidence and doesn’t make an effort to learn but doesn’t want to lose his job his only option is to not let his bosses know that things are going wrong.
You can actually drag this type of “leading” on for quite a while before it gets discovered. When it does get discovered things will be so bad that the only option your bosses will have will be to fire you.
If you are in a leadership position and know you don’t deal well with confrontational people you need to take as many assertiveness training courses as you can to help you learn to deal appropriately with those people. Whatever you do, don’t let them take control. It will lead to your downfall.