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How to Manage a Difficult Team Member

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is about managing a difficult team member.  They say things like, “He is taking up too much of my time” or “She isn’t responding to my suggestions for changing her behavior.”  My response is, “What does that person need that they aren’t getting?”  The leader rarely knows the answer – if they did, they wouldn’t need my help.

Where to Look for Clues

In these situations, I recommend a personality assessment for the team member and the team leader.  This increases their understanding of themselves and each other, especially their similarities and differences.  The assessment also provides suggestions for what each person needs to be most effective.  If someone needs clear cut instructions and their boss is too vague, they will likely want more detail.  That can be frustrating to a boss who is a big picture thinker and wants someone else to fill in the blanks.

Be Intentional

With increased awareness of what they need from each other, these two individuals can make adjustments.  Although it can get easier with practice, it will likely always require intention and feedback.  Asking, “Did you get what you needed?” at the end of a conversation may not be common but it is essential for effective communication and connection.

I invite you to think about a team member who has been a challenge for you.  How might you change your approach to improve the situation?