There are some folks who drain the life out of the climate in the office because of their attitudes that destroy a spirit of unity. The first step is identifying them; the second is not getting drawn into their "issues" nor let them hold the workplace hostage. And the third step is to take a few minutes to test yourself on how you would coach each of these folks toward growth. What would that crucial confrontation look like?
o Gossipy Gertrude, who always has a juicy, usually degrading, story about someone, making her "one-up" with her knowledge. Gertrude might be coached with statements like, "It's gotten back to me that you have said some negative words about …" to show that her words are affecting the team negatively.
o Quick-to-take-offense Quentin, who, because of undeal-with personal issues, is a volcano waiting to go off at the sound of any inconvenience. Quentin needs some coaching on his quick temper's effect on the team, but most likely needs a place to be heard and understood-and some prodding on what is behind all that anger.
o Resistant Rachel, who bucks change or simple requests like a stubborn wall because, as a "reagent drag-in", she likes things the way they are. Rachel will need to know that the sky is not falling, but only certain things will be changing-and life will get better on the other side of the change. Give her input on the implementation plan.
o Turf-protecting Ted, who stays in his four walls and does not allow any intrusions to his comfort zone that may resemble him being a team player. Find ways for Ted to have to play in other people's sandboxes, to add value to his teams, and then praise him when he stretches outside of his comfort zone.
o Joyless Jenny, who grumbles through the hallways without a smile, being a professional pessimist, lost that lovin 'feeling of why she chose this job. Call Jenny's bluff by saying, "What is the worst thing that could happen?" and asking her the likelihood of it actually happening. Keep speaking bright-side of things to counteract her negativity. Probe for what would bring joy back into her work life.
o Wear-my-stress Warren, who oozes tension by his mannerisms, snippy words, and quick pace, maxed out by a too-full plate and lack of self-care. Sounds like Warren is in "overload mode" and needs some coaching on tips to avoid burnout and how to set boundaries in his life so that he has more margin for life's stressors. Reflect back to him how he's coming across.
o Passionless Patricia, who no longer likes her career, and demonstrates lifelessness on a daily basis, just going through the motions, off-track on her life mission. Patricia has lost her WHY of her work, and that has lost her WAY. She either needs meaningful work to get back to full engagement or an exit plan to something that would bring her back to life.
Recommendation to get you started with all of these high-maintenance colleges: Do what you can to understand them ("get behind their eyes"), and be a ray of sunshine in their dark worlds, which will, in turn, brighten the workplace environment for everyone. We often judge people we do not understand; thus, relationship-building will lower walls and build bridges to their core needs and motivations.
By Paul D Casey