Cover image for The complete idiot's guide to dealing with difficult employees
The complete idiot's guide to dealing with difficult employees
Bacal, Robert.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Indianapolis, In. : Alpha Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxii, 344 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Added Title:
Handling difficult employees.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HF5549.5.E42 B3 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HF5549.5.E42 B3 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Offers managers and supervisors advice on everything from negotiating a dispute between two or more workers, to working out a fair appeals policy, to safely and legally discharging an employee who's just not working out. The text includes real-life examples.

Table of Contents

Part 1 You Can't Smack 'Em--Manage Them Insteadp. 1
1 Don't Just Sit and Sufferp. 3
The Cost of Difficult Peoplep. 4
The Cost to Youp. 4
The Cost to Others--It's Not Just All About Youp. 5
Cost to the Organizationp. 7
A Hundred and One Uses for Difficult Peoplep. 8
The Canary--Difficult but Handyp. 8
Looking in the Mirrorp. 10
Avoid Being a Victimp. 10
The Perils of Inactionp. 10
Leaping Before You lookp. 11
Four Reasons You Might Choose to Be a Victimp. 12
Disbelief (This Can't Be Happening)p. 13
Desire to Avoid Confrontationp. 13
Nobody Wants to Be the Bad Guyp. 14
Fight or Flightp. 15
You Can Do Something--You Must Do Somethingp. 15
2 The Magical Manipulative Ways of the Difficultp. 17
It's Not the Difficult People, It's the Difficult Behaviorp. 18
How Labeling People as Difficult Causes Problemsp. 18
An Alternative--Focus on Behaviorp. 19
At Every Desk a Difficult Person (Sometimes)p. 21
It Takes Twop. 21
The Various Manipulative Techniques of the Difficultp. 23
Direct Work-Related Difficult Behaviorp. 24
Attacks on You, the Managerp. 24
Difficult Interpersonal Behaviorp. 25
Back-Channel Guerrilla Workp. 26
Chronic Versus Occasional Difficult Behaviorp. 26
How Does Knowing All This Help?p. 28
3 What Makes Difficult People Tick ... and Tickp. 31
You Don't Need to Be a Shrinkp. 31
Are They Just Screwed Up?p. 32
It's About What People Have Learnedp. 33
It's Also About Skillp. 34
It's Also About Emotionp. 35
What Are Difficult People After?p. 37
Sense of Controlp. 37
Straw That Stirs the Drinkp. 38
I'm Not Much So I Have a Lot to Provep. 39
A Reaction ... I Need A Reactionp. 39
Weird Biology, Weird Sciencep. 39
How Does Knowing All This Help?p. 40
4 Why Me, Lord, Why Me?--The Manager's Burdenp. 43
It's Probably not Personalp. 43
... But It Might Be Youp. 45
Identifying If It Is Youp. 46
It's Your Choice to Changep. 47
The Manager's Extra Burdenp. 48
Responsibility for Your Work Unit's Productivityp. 48
Responsibility for Staff Welfarep. 49
Responsibility for Mediationp. 50
It's in Your Self-Interestp. 50
5 Keeping Your Feet on the Ground with Difficult Peoplep. 53
It Isn't Going to Work with Mep. 54
Blaming and Problem Solving--the Differencep. 55
Avoid the Lowest Common Denominatorp. 57
Slow Down Your Talk and Responsesp. 58
Listen and Paraphrasep. 59
Call Time-Outp. 59
What You Focus on You Get More Ofp. 59
Think Big Picture--Think Long Termp. 60
Using Self-Talk to Stay Balancedp. 61
Negative, Nonconstructive Self-Talkp. 61
Positive Constructive Self-Talkp. 62
Part 2 Managing Garden-Variety Employeesp. 65
6 Identifying the Garden-Variety Difficult Employeep. 67
Identifying the Difficult Employeep. 67
The Hidden Costs of the Garden-Variety Difficult Employeep. 69
Take Action to Prevent Worsening Behaviorp. 70
Your Interpersonal Toolsp. 70
Formal Authority Toolsp. 71
So, You Think You Really Have Power?p. 72
So When Is the Use of Authority Warranted?p. 73
Preventative Toolsp. 74
Creating Normsp. 74
The Power of Norm Creationp. 75
7 Providing Feedback to Difficult Employeesp. 77
Feedback--a Major Tool for Changep. 78
The Different Faces of Feedbackp. 79
Two Feedback Dimensions: Factual and Emotionalp. 79
Sources of Feedbackp. 81
Feedback Strategiesp. 81
Direct Feedbackp. 82
Facilitating Feedback from Othersp. 82
Cueing Attention on Task Feedbackp. 84
Giving Feedback That Gets Positive Resultsp. 85
Feedback That's Somewhat Controlled by Recipientp. 85
No Overloadp. 86
Feedback Should Be Specific and Refer to Behaviorp. 86
Balance Positive and Negativep. 86
Frame the Feedbackp. 87
Recap Togetherp. 87
8 Parrying the Difficult Thrustsp. 89
Have Some Cheese with the Whinep. 89
Beginning the Processp. 90
Empathy Responsesp. 91
Returning Responsibilityp. 91
Personal Attacksp. 92
Private Attacksp. 93
Assertive Limit Settingp. 93
Public Attacksp. 94
Dealing With Minor Back-Channel Problemsp. 94
Modeling Behaviorp. 95
Mobilizing Group Pressurep. 95
Skill Buildingp. 96
The Work and Responsibility Avoiderp. 96
The Meeting Disrupterp. 97
The Naysayerp. 98
9 Using Performance Management to Helpp. 101
Performance Management Isn't What You Thinkp. 101
What Performance Management Isn'tp. 103
The Links Between Performance Management and Managing Difficult Peoplep. 103
The Important Parts of Performance Managementp. 104
Performance Planningp. 104
Ongoing Performance Communicationp. 106
Documentation, Data Gathering, and Diagnosisp. 107
The Performance Reviewp. 108
Using Performance Management to Solve Performance Difficulties and Soft Problemsp. 109
Addressing the Productivity Issuep. 109
Addressing the Softer Team Issuesp. 110
10 Monkey in the Middle: Mediation and Arbitrationp. 115
Deciding When to Step In--Whose Banana Is It?p. 116
Mediation--What Is It? When Does It Fit?p. 117
When Is Mediation Likely to Work?p. 118
Deciding to Mediatep. 118
Hold Preliminary Meetingsp. 120
Logistics and Establishing Context for Three-Way Meetingsp. 121
The Processp. 121
Working to the Breakthroughp. 122
Tasks and Roles of the Manager-as-Mediatorp. 122
Framing Agreements and Following Upp. 124
Arbitration, or When Someone Just Has to Decidep. 124
Arbitration Tipsp. 125
Mediation Versus Arbitrationp. 126
Part 3 Managing the Venomous Difficult Employeep. 127
11 Indentifying the Venomous Difficult Employeep. 129
What Separates Venomous from Garden Varietyp. 130
Why the Venomous Employee Is So Dangerousp. 131
Techniques of the Viperp. 133
Abuse and Personal Attacksp. 133
Outright Sabotagep. 136
Backroom Politicking and String Pullingp. 138
The Pinocchio Problemp. 139
Tying Up the Venomous Person in a Nice Pink Bowp. 141
12 Can You Create Win-Win with These Folks? And How!p. 143
Is Win-Win Possible with the Venomous?p. 144
Disadvantages of Win-Win Attemptsp. 146
So Is It Possible? Is It Worth It?p. 147
Win-Win--Breaking Through with the Approachp. 147
Looking Under the Rock--Figuring Out What's Going Onp. 150
Your Turn--Presenting Where You Arep. 151
Collaborative Problem Solvingp. 152
The End Game--Commitment and Follow-Upp. 152
13 I Fought The Law and ...?p. 155
The Legal Swampp. 156
Layer upon Layer of Lawp. 156
How the Law Really Worksp. 158
Disciplinary Issues--Do You Have Protection?p. 158
The Disciplinary Prophylacticp. 160
Oral Warningp. 160
Formal Oral Warning with Documentationp. 161
Written Warningp. 161
Final Warningp. 162
Terminationp. 162
Hey, You Have Another Legal Responsibilityp. 163
Is There Any Good News Here?p. 165
14 Worry About the Other Shoe Dropping-- Violencep. 167
View from the Bridge--Some Background on Violencep. 168
Violence, Disciplinary Action, and Dismissalp. 169
Preventive Measures and Dismissalp. 170
Other Tipsp. 172
Is Workplace Violence Predictable?p. 174
Personal Indicatorsp. 175
Workplace Behaviorp. 176
Obsessionsp. 176
Action Changes and Behaviorp. 176
Preventative Steps for All Workplace Violencep. 177
Corporate Initiativesp. 177
Initiatives You Can Takep. 178
Part 4 When the Difficult Person Is Your Bossp. 181
15 The Nutso Bossp. 183
Some Bosses Really Are Nutsp. 184
Jelly-Fished Outp. 184
Egomaniac Puppeteerp. 185
The Substance Abuserp. 185
The Paranoid Empire Builderp. 185
The Totally Incompetent Nice Addictp. 186
Tricks to Survive a Nutty Bossp. 186
Get Connectedp. 187
Conduct Business Publiclyp. 189
The Written Word Is Goldp. 189
Get Small, Get Invisible, Be Sneakyp. 189
Developing a Productive Mind-setp. 190
Focus on the Workp. 190
Don't Expect Squatp. 191
Be Prepared for Surprisesp. 191
Explore Alternativesp. 191
So You Want to Try Getting Through to Your Boss?p. 191
What Drives Your Boss?p. 192
Link Your Goals to the Boss's Problemsp. 192
Do the Pitchp. 193
16 Fighting Fire with Water--Your Difficult-Boss Optionsp. 195
Consider the Consequencesp. 195
Start with the Effects and Outcomesp. 196
What's Your Personal Situation?p. 198
What Are Your Options?p. 199
Quitting Immediatelyp. 199
Laying Down the Groundwork for Leavingp. 200
Laying Down an Ultimatump. 202
Appealsp. 203
Appeals to the Boss's Bossp. 203
Appeals to the Human Resource Departmentp. 204
Getting Sneakyp. 205
Working It Outp. 206
Living With Itp. 207
Wrapping It Upp. 208
17 Silly Boss Behaviors--Specific Situationsp. 209
The Credit-Stealing Bossp. 209
Mary's First Step: Some Objective Thinkingp. 210
Trying to Work It Outp. 211
Turning Up the Heatp. 213
Last Resortsp. 213
The Unreasonable-Demands Bossp. 214
Let's Put You in the Driver's Seatp. 214
The Pitchp. 216
Your Other "Working with" Optionsp. 217
If None of That Worksp. 217
A Sobering Thoughtp. 218
18 Is Your Boss Doing Something Illegal?p. 221
Clearly Illegal Actsp. 221
Rumor Versus Factp. 222
Three Optionsp. 223
Ignoring Itp. 223
Try Company Channelsp. 224
The Long Arm of the Lawp. 226
How to Pass Along Informationp. 226
Gray-Area Illegal Actsp. 227
When the Boss Violates Policyp. 229
Part 5 If It Wasn't for My Difficult Co-Workersp. 231
19 Difficult Colleaguesp. 233
The Annoying and Frustratingp. 233
It's Your Annoyancep. 234
OK, Wise Guy, How Do I Change My Perceptions?p. 236
The Work Killersp. 238
The Resource Hogp. 239
Just Insensitivep. 241
No-Fault Teflon Co-workersp. 243
Backstabbers and Gossipsp. 243
The Authority Underminersp. 245
The Turf Warriorsp. 246
20 Real Conflict and What to Do About Itp. 249
Two Kinds of Conflictsp. 249
Substantive Conflictp. 250
Personalized Conflictp. 250
Is Conflict Always Bad?p. 251
Conflict: The Goodp. 251
Conflict: The Badp. 252
Conflict: The Uglyp. 253
Five Different Ways to Manage Conflictp. 254
1 Avoidance and/or Denialp. 254
2 Giving In or Yieldingp. 256
3 Compromise: Give a Little, Take a Littlep. 257
4 Competition or Power-Basedp. 258
5 Collaborative Win-Win Methodp. 259
21 Getting Help from Others, Including the Bossp. 263
Boss Cultivation--The Long Approachp. 263
Boss-Cultivation Principlesp. 264
When to Involve the Bossp. 266
Approaching Smart--Involving Smartp. 267
The Approach Processp. 267
Smart Involvementp. 269
Help from Other Sourcesp. 270
Knowing When You Are in Big Troublep. 271
22 Knowing Your Communication Mediap. 275
How Communication Media Differp. 276
Speed of Communicationp. 276
Interactivity of Communicationp. 277
Spontaneity and Formalityp. 278
Face-to-Face and Telephone Communicationp. 278
Written Communicationp. 280
E-mail Communication--A Brave New Worldp. 281
Things You Need to Know About E-mailp. 282
The Paperless Messagep. 282
"I Really Didn't Mean It"p. 283
"It's Lost in My To-Be-Read File"p. 283
Not for Your Eyes Onlyp. 284
Some E-mail Tipsp. 284
Part 6 I Confess, I'm Difficult (Help for the Guilty)p. 287
23 We're All Difficult Sometimes--Are You Difficult Too Much?p. 289
Why It's So Hard to See Our Own Difficult Behaviorp. 289
Why Looking at Yourself Is So Importantp. 291
Some Difficulty Indicatorsp. 292
Sometimes You Just Have to Askp. 294
Informal Feedbackp. 294
More Formal Ways to Get Feedbackp. 297
24 Getting Less Difficult--Words and Deedsp. 301
Getting Back to Behavior--the Starting Blockp. 301
How People Come to See You as Difficultp. 302
Are You Trustworthy?p. 303
Wanna Be More Consistent and Congruent?p. 306
Change How You Promise or Commitp. 306
Review Your Decision Makingp. 307
What About Your Demeanor and Management Approach?p. 308
How to Become More Congruentp. 309
25 Getting Less Difficult--The Words, Ma'am, Just the Wordsp. 311
What's Your Style?p. 311
Cooperative Languagep. 312
Confrontational Languagep. 312
What's Their Problem?p. 313
Lack of Listening/Understandingp. 313
"Less-than" Communicationp. 314
Communicating Mistrustp. 315
Violation of Conversation Rulesp. 316
Blatant Generalizationsp. 316
Power/Status-Based Communicationp. 317
Replacing Confrontational Language with Cooperative Languagep. 317
Move from Power to Cooperationp. 317
Get Rid of the Mistrust Stuffp. 319
Shed Blatant Generalizationsp. 320
Lose Phrases that Cause Defensivenessp. 320
More Fixing Upp. 321
Infallibility Breeds Contemptp. 321
Hints for Improving at Cooperative Communicationp. 322
A Glossaryp. 325
B Additional Resourcesp. 331
Indexp. 335