The Management Approach: Let the Complainer/Whiner know this poor attitude is not helpful and is upsetting to all around him/her. Nobody wants to work with him/her, as it is always a downer. This person needs to adopt a more positive attitude, for his/her own benefit as well as for the group. While you don’t expect this person to become an Eternal Optimist, there is little value in being the eternal pessimist. He/she needs to shape up or ship out.
The Eternal Optimist:
The Management Approach: This attitude is far better than that of the Complainer/Whiner, but she/he needs to recognize that some others can find such continual perkiness disconcerting. She/he shouldn’t change much, but should recognize that it’s OK to occasionally show frustration. Still, don't do anything to discourage this person or dampen the positive outlook.
The Management Approach: Explain clearly to the Gossip that he/she is paid to do the job, and not to gather and spread gossip. He/she must concentrate on the work and not on ferreting out gossip. He/she must straighten out or move on.
The Cheshire Cat: (Thanks to my friend Joann Miller for this one!)
The Management Approach: Lay down the law with the Cheshire Cat. It’s unacceptable for him/her to say one thing and do another, particularly when he/she has led people to believe what’s been said. He/she must be consistent, honest, and above board, or no one will ever trust, or want to work with him/her. Such unacceptable behavior must change immediately.
The Management Approach: Try to find assignments that are good for the Loner and for the group, but the Loner must recognize that he/she does not and cannot exist in a vacuum. People depend on him/her, and he/she should learn to depend on others. The success of the group is dependent upon a group effort.
The Credit Taker/Thief:
The Management Approach: Let the Credit Taker/Thief know that you are on to him/her, and that such behavior will not be tolerated. Ask why he/she has been behaving in this way and what he/she intends to do about it. Let him/her know that if this poor behavior does not change immediately, you will take disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
The Management Approach: Let the A$$hole know that his/her asshole behavior is entirely unacceptable. If this person can’t work well with others, then this may not be the place for him/her to work. Let the A$$hole know that such behavior is seriously damaging the performance of the entire organization, and that it won’t be tolerated. Let him/her know that you will be monitoring the situation, and that if this behavior doesn’t change significantly, this will affect his/her performance review, and possibly his/her employment. (See also Learn from Good Role Models; Learn More from Bad!)
These are just a few more of many personality types that you will come across in knowledge worker-based (and other) organizations. The key is to recognize the various personality types as early as possible, and work to address the problems or opportunities that they may bring. You don’t want to destroy individuality or mold everyone into an automaton. At the same time, you don’t want certain individual behaviors to destroy team morale. You must walk a fine line, and find what works best for your organization using a style that fits you.
If you have more knowledge worker personality types you’d like to bring to my attention, please let me know via comments to the blog or via email. Manager (or rather Mis-Manager) personality types will get their turn in the spotlight in future blog posts.