By Kathleen E. Murphy
Regardless of how many years you have been working, undoubtedly you have encountered both spectrums of people you enjoy working with, and those who you would rather hit the “eject” button on… if there was one. Fortunately, most people fall into the mid-range of being good to work with, but what if you are one of the “complicated/messy” people everyone dreads working with, or if you are trying to avoid hiring someone like this?
Most people do their best to avoid bringing drama into the workplace, but some people either do not realize they are doing this, or simply can’t help themselves. Sometimes it might be a phase the person is going through which makes it seem like every day is filled with unnecessary drama being brought by them into the workplace. Generally, if you take the time to ask them if they are OK, and if they realize their outside life it impacting their work, they are often not aware of this. When you point this out to them, they will either be embarrassed or grateful for the fact you are acknowledging their outside world having a negative impact on their professional environment. Asking them if there is anything you can do to help them is the right thing to do, even if you do not think you can fully support them. However, having your emotional support will sometimes be enough and exactly what they need.
Even if you are not in a hiring capacity, chances are you would want to figure out how to deal with someone who is “complicated”. Better yet, you probably want to make your working experience far more gratifying, especially if you are dealing with “complicated” people. The best approach when dealing with these type of people is to ask them a few questions. Here is what I recommend:
- How would you rate your daily interaction satisfaction rate with your colleagues on a scale of (1-5), 5 being the highest?
- What is the best part of your day, and coffee breaks, lunch and leaving the office can’t be one of your answers.
- If money did not matter, what would be your ideal job?
- Who do you admire professionally, and why?
The answers to these questions will allow you to have an open dialogue with the person about whether they are happy. If they are clearly not happy, encouraging them to think about what they need to do to make working with the people they are working with more enjoyable is a good place to start. If you do not manage the person you are having the conversation with, being empathetic to their situation could be the catalyst to turn their “complicated/messy” attitude around. However, if you do manage the person who is having difficultly working with either one or more people on the team, encourage them to find ways that can make the work encounters they are having less drama filled or less combative. If they are not aware of their behavior, pointing this out to them, or what I call “showing them the mirror of how they are perceived by others”, has had a dramatic impact on people numerous times I have had this conversation.
If you are in a hiring position and are building your “dream team”, here are some questions you can ask to make sure you seek and find the people who you will not regret hiring.
Questions to ask to avoid hiring “that” person, or answering to find out if you are “that” person:
- How important are celebrating your colleague’s birthdays to you on a scale of (1-5), 5 being the highest rating.
- Tell me about your most recent social service experience in helping others. When was it, and what was the best part of the experience?
- What kinds of teams were you on growing up? This can include being in a band, on the debate team, in a choir or the drama club and not just sports teams. NOTE: If they were not on any teams, this might indicate they have limited experience with collaborative experiences.
- What is an example of an experience you are most proud of accomplishing?
- Tell me about things that motivate you to be kind to others.
- Have you ever had a service job (e.g., bartending, waiting tables, camp counselor)? NOTE: I have generally only hired people who say “yes” to this question, as it demonstrates they know how to serve the needs of others first, and interact well with people.
- What is one or a couple of things you are passionate about? NOTE: They do not have to be work related.
- On a scale of 1-5, how important is it for people to get along? Five is the highest rating.
- When you walk into a room, how would others know you have arrived?
Since most people will be working for a large majority of their lives, it is imperative to have strategies in place for finding the right people and companies to work with and for. Life is too short to work with too many of “that person”. Do you agree?
Kathleen E. Murphy is the Founder, Chief Strategist and CMO of Market Me Too. Market Me Too has expertise in bridging marketing and sales teams and providing organizations techniques to accelerate their market growth, regardless of the industry they are in, or the business stage they are presently at. Contact Kathleen at firstname.lastname@example.org.