Manager's Tips and Tools

by Manager Development Services

9 “problem employee” styles


As a manager, if I can understand what drives my employees, then I don’t have to personalize their behavior and allow their behavior to trigger or define me.  Working in this type of environment is difficult and stressful.  It’s important I understand what motivates staff and learn how to monitor and inspire them.  Many people live their whole lives tolerating such work environments never knowing how to change them or how to escape from them.  In other words, they just struggle to survive and work becomes a drudgery in which they’re trapped.

Now let’s look at some common traditional employee styles and the problems they create:

The Lackey: this is the “yes” man, trying to succeed by “sucking up.”  This employee thinks he’ll climb the ladder of success by licking the boss’s boots.  The boss definitely likes having this employee around for the grunt work, but doesn’t respect or trust him.

The Snitch: accumulates points by squealing on his coworkers.  This employee slides into every conversation unnoticed, sucking up rumors and innuendo to regurgitate to the boss to show his allegiance.  During slow periods, he made even instigate rumors.  The traditional boss loves his covert spies, but once again, doesn’t trust or respect them.

The Rebel: is defiant to the end. This employee refuses, “quietly,” to follow procedure or protocol.   He’ll agree and submit to management’s face, then do the opposite behind their backs.  This lets him feel like he’s the one in control.

The Peacock: struts continuously, flaunting his beauty.  Also known as “The Mouth,” this individual makes sure everybody knows, especially the boss, what new thing he’s coming up with, his successes, his future plans, and how his coworkers could improve.

The Martyr: carries the weight of the world on their shoulders so others won’t have to.  Always given three times as much work as anyone else and with more restrictions and expectations, this individual will gladly offer to help others and then complain how hard he worked saving a coworker.  These individuals are tolerated because they will take on a larger workload, but they are also avoided because of their incessant whining.

The Ghost: this is the invisible employee.  This individual works at not drawing any attention to himself.  They neither make mistakes nor excel at anything.  By being anonymous, they go on about their lives unnoticed.  They will never be fired or even “written up.”  But if they’re invisible, they will also never be promoted.

The Anarchist:  contriving sabotage behind the scenes. This individual is pissed off that he is actually expected to work for a living so he finds fault with everything and everyone.  He’s expert and spreading dissention and discord around the workplace.  This is an especially dangerous individual because he poisons others and it’s usually these other individuals which suffer the consequences.

The Bull: keeps his head down and plows forward:  This individual works hard, but expects all his hard work to be noticed on its own.

The Knight: is the rescuer of all.  This individual works hard and with diligence.  Honorable and modest, this individual holds true to his principles.  He will not blow his own horn, and because he won’t, he is not promoted, but is usually kept where he is needed most.

As a manager, it’s important I recognize these different, basic styles and not get caught-up in the dysfunction they create.   (See section on “Emotional Maturity”)

– excerpt from “The Manager as Engineer of the Workplace”

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October 10, 2011 - Posted by | Counseling Techniques, Leadership Skills, Manager Development Tools, Mentoring, Personal Development | , , , , , , ,

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