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Human Resources Management


7 TIPS TO MANAGE JERKS
By Michael Mercer, Ph.D.
Dec 19, 2007, 15:48

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Leaders and managers must create productive teamwork.  However, some employees love to argue, criticize, give put-downs, and encourage discord and disruptions.  They have poison tongues, and they aim to poison your work team, department, and company.  Don’t let them.

 

Seven solutions to managing jerks at work include using pre-employment tests to avoid hiring jerks, plus six other tips.

 

TIP # 1 = COMPLAINERS ARE ADULTS THROWING TEMPER TANTRUMS

Insight:  Employees who love to complain, blame and moan are throwing the adult version of a child’s temper tantrum.  They know enough not to cry and scream at work, so they pick on people and bad-mouth the company in a pseudo-intelligent manner.  Beware:  They will throw your work team into disarray if you let them spew their negativity.

 

TIP # 2 = UNCOVER YOUR ORGANIZATION’S CULTURE

From research for my fifth book, “Absolutely Fabulous Organizational Change,” I created a definition of organizational culture.

 

Organizational culture is how every employee knows he or she must act – even when no one is watching.

 

If a manager or leader has employees who snap at each other’s throats, then that reflects the corporate culture the manager fostered.  So, if you do not like “how every employee knows he or she must act – even when no one is watching,” then you must look in the mirror.  Decide what you need to do to be a better role model, and do it.

 

TIP # 3 = PRE-EMPLOYMENT TESTS HELP MANAGERS HIRE THE BEST

Pre-employment tests make it easy to hire applicants who have the personality and intelligence to work productively and collaboratively.  In my research on pre-employment tests, I discovered companies staffed with peaceful, productive employees hire applicants who get high test scores on four measures of the pre-employment test:

a.  Teamwork

c.  Friendliness

c.  Optimism

d.  Helping People Motivation

 

This is not rocket science.  Hire winners, and you get a winning work team.  Hire unfriendly, pessimistic people who love discord and arguing, and you get a jerk breeding ground.

 

 TIP # 4 = KEY TO CHANGING EMPLOYEES WITH “PERSONALITY PROBLEMS”

Managers and leaders need to remember one principle to transform jerks:  People will not change their personality to get along with others.  But, they will change their behavior or actions.

 

Your goal as a manager is to focus on changing the jerk’s actions – not on changing the troublemaker’s personality.  

 

TIP # 5 = TEAMBUILDING IN NON-THREATENING WAY

Managers have me conduct Teambuilding Sessions in their departments and companies.  Teambuilding Sessions enable a work team to overcome interpersonal and other problems so the team can vastly increase productivity.

 

One teambuilding method I use entails sitting the team around a table.  Then, each team member gives two comments to each other team member, while everyone else listens.  First, “What I like about working with you is [action.]”  Second, “I could work better with you if you did [action.].”

 

Notice how I make team members to tell teammates specific actions or behaviors.  I do not allow comments on personality traits.  Reason?  People can continue useful actions and change unproductive actions.  However, they will not change their personality.

 

For example, one team member may look another team member in the eye, and give these two comments:  “What I like about working with you is you are very organized.  I could work better with you if you talked to me in a soft, calm voice.”

 

Importantly, the team member remarked on actions, and not on personality traits.  For instance, if the team member commented on personality traits, she could have said, “What I like about working with you is you are neurotically obsessive-compulsive.  I could work better with you if you did not act like a crazed, hysterical maniac.”  No one would react well to being called personality traits, like “neurotically obsessive-compulsive” or “crazed, hysterical maniac.”  However, a person happily can act “organized” and talk “in a soft, calm voice.” 

 

TIP # 6 = PEER PRESSURE

Joint goal achievement provides a powerful way to get work done while forcing people to collaborate and increase productivity.  Assign a team of employees an important work goal, including measurable result to achieve by a deadline.  Tell them their reward for accomplishing the goal, as well as the dire consequences for failing. 

 

Peer pressure with a noose dangling over their heads will increase collaboration faster than pleasant counseling or coaching will.  Also, getting a reward for successful goal achievement reinforces harmony and productivity.

 

TIP # 7 = ‘PUBLIC EXECUTION’ OF A JERK

Here, ‘public execution’ means making a spectacle of firing a jerk.  All the other employees know the jerk likes to criticize, complain, argue, and create discord and distress.  So, a ‘public execution’ shows disruptive, counter-productive behavior is not tolerated. 

 

If someone does not get with the program of harmony and productivity, at some point a good manager must de-employ the harmful employee.  Doing so sends a loud and clear message about what behavior is not tolerated under your management.

 

Copyright 2007 Mercer Systems Inc., www.MercerSystems.com

 

Michael Mercer, Ph.D., is a consultant, speaker, and nationally known pre-employment testing expert.  His five books include “Hire the Best -- & Avoid the Rest” and also “Absolutely Fabulous Organizational Change.”  Pre-employment tests he created help many companies hire the best.  You can read more of Dr. Mercer’s articles and get a no cost subscription to his Management Newsletter at http://www.Pre-EmploymentTests.com or call phone = 847-382-0690.



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