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When: Friday, August 3 @ 1 p.m. EDT (5 p.m. GMT / 10:30 p.m. IST)
Topic: Daily Pain Points of Managing a Team
“No great manager or leader ever fell from heaven. It’s learned, not inherited.”
― Tom Northup, American author
About This Week’s Chat: Mrs X
The minute I set foot in the office and saw the look on her face, I knew it was going to be one of those days.
Mrs X had caused trouble right from the start. I joined the company as human resources manager about six months after Mrs X began working there, and one of the first things that I had to do was to help Jane, her manager, who was on the brink of full-blown burnout. Jane was so stressed that she contracted shingles and desperately needed time off.
But Mrs X was her deputy, and Jane couldn’t leave the department in her hands. It’s not that Mrs X wasn’t competent. In fact, she was more than competent. But she was also extremely moody.
On good days, she would be the nicest person to work with. She handled customers in a friendly and graceful manner, and was helpful to everybody. On bad days, though, she shouted at her colleagues, ignored the customers, and flew into a rage with no provocation.
Mrs X had already received numerous warnings. Everybody trod on eggshells around her all the time, because they never knew which version of Mrs X they would have to face.
A Drama and a Crisis
Jane had tried to coach Mrs X. However, if their feedback session fell on the “wrong” day, it was almost impossible to have a mature conversation with her. At the slightest hint of negative feedback, the drama would start. She would fling her hands in the air and start to cry, lamenting the fact that she could never do anything right. Then she’d start cussing and storm out, vowing never to return to “this place.”
As the new broom around there, I wanted to help everybody who was involved in the situation – most of all Mrs X herself. I tried mindful listening and empathic conversations. I tried to find out if there was something wrong at home. I reached out in a thousand different ways, but none of it made an impact.
In the end, we had to go through a full disciplinary process with Mrs X. When it dawned on her that she was going to lose her job, she resigned. When Mrs X left the building, it felt as though a very stormy sea had suddenly become tranquil. The building itself seemed to let out a sigh of relief.
Later, we discovered that Mrs X had a track record of bad behavior. She’d left several different companies, usually resigning before she could be dismissed. But because she was a friend of a friend, and Jane had felt sorry for her, she hadn’t checked her references before hiring her. She paid dearly for neglecting to do so.
Jane was only able to return to work three weeks after Mrs X had left. Being the one who bore the brunt of Mrs X’s nastiness, it took her more than a year to fully recover.
Daily Pain Points of Managing a Team
The example of Mrs X is quite extreme. But dealing with a difficult person doesn’t have to be extreme to be uncomfortable and stressful. And that’s just one of the pain points of managing a team.
As a manager and a leader, you won’t always work with top performers. In our poll this week, we asked you which characteristic, if it’s displayed by a team member, is likely to frustrate you the most. More than 40 percent of people voted for “not teachable,” while less than 15 percent chose “poor timekeeping.” Click here to view all the options and the results.
In our #MTtalk Twitter chat on Friday, we’re going to talk about the daily pain points of managing a team, with the emphasis on being a new manager, coping with conflicting demands, and dealing with difficult people.
We’d love you to participate in the chat, and the following questions may spark some thoughts in preparation for it:
- What are some typical pain points that you experience as a manager?
- What makes these points so painful?
- When would you feel OK to ask for help from others?
- A former peer resists your leadership. What steps do you take to bring him or her on board?
- A team member sees the negative in everything, and it drags down team morale. How do you deal with him or her?
- How do you respond to questions from your team when you have been asked by senior managers not to disclose information?
- How do you instill team spirit, a shared purpose, and a collaborative work style in your team?
- What can you learn from your pain points?
To help you to prepare for the chat, we’ve compiled a list of resources for you to browse.
How to Be Flexible in the Workplace
Dealing With Angry People
Dealing With Sloppy Work
Five Ways to Deal With Rudeness in the Workplace
Into the Deep End
Bad Behavior at Work
How to Be Organized
How to Join Our Chat
Follow us on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on any of the action this Friday!
We’ll be tweeting out 10 questions during our hour-long chat. To participate in the chat, type #MTtalk in the Twitter search function. Then, click on “All Tweets” and you’ll be able to follow the live chat feed. You can join the chat by using the hashtag #MTtalk in your responses.