How to handle the Report Commissioner?

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This type is not indecisive, but is playing a power game. He (or she) deliberately suggests preparing yet another report on a project because he wants to delay it from proceeding without it looking as if he is the one holding it up. He can maintain his innocent stance while achieving his obstructive objective.

Some government bodies may use this approach so as not to upset their electorate. It looks like they are taking action on a contentious issue while not actually proceeding with the project itself. Perhaps by the time the report is published, which can seem to take a long time, the issue will have become less contentious or even forgotten, or circumstances may have changed to make the project either viable or redundant. In the meantime, the project is not up for further discussion.

 

So how can you handle the Report Commissioner type successfully so that he cooperates with you and your goal is achieved?

Your response to the Report Commissioner depends on the level of power and authority you have in the situation. Where the Report Commissioner holds all the power such as where government bodies are involved, you need to determine whether their action is a genuine need for the information that the report will deliver before a decision can be made or whether it is a way of saying no.

If it is the latter, you need to accept that as being the fact, and not wait for the report to be published before deciding on your next step. You are not accepting their implied refusal as a defeat, but as an indicator that you need to start adopting a different strategy to influence them to your point of view. You need to be creative in finding a way of demonstrating your logical argument to them, which does not resort to emotional tactics.

(Think of a child asking his mother for something he wants, and she says ‘I will ask your father when he gets home.’ Is she actually saying no but wants to avoid telling her child? Maybe she hopes he will have forgotten about what he wanted by the time the father gets home. Children are very creative in finding ways of successfully demonstrating why they must have what they want.)

Where your level of power and authority is more equal with that of the Report Commissioner, your aim must be to not make an issue about your way being the best way. If you make an issue, he is more likely to obstruct your progress by asking for a further report. Instead you must demonstrate faultless logic for your proposition, and do it in such a way that he can take the credit for it.

Where you hold the power and authority over someone who deliberately obstructs progress by commissioning various reports, you must give him (or her) a very clearly understood deadline with a clear consequence of missing that deadline for any reason.

Handling The Information Junkie At Work

How to handle Information Junkie at work

For this type of person, information is power, and they can never get enough of it. They will not make a decision until they have all the information, and having ALL the information is a never-ending excuse to not proceed. They would not accept that they are slow at making decisions, it is just that it is vital to them to just get one more piece of evidence, and then another, and so on.

If you press them to make a decision, they may dig their heels in and become more adamant about the need for further research to be done before proceeding. The more you press them, the further entrenched they become. If you have the authority to insist they make a decision, they will have to do it but they may always feel doubtful whether their decision was correct and thus will not be fully in support of it.

So how can you handle the Information Junkie type successfully so that he cooperates with you and your goal is achieved?

To handle this type of person successfully, firstly you must show him that you respect and accept his need to be armed with the complete information before proceeding, and not insist that he makes a decision without it. By you doing this he feels that you are not threatening his need for information, and so he becomes less defensive and more open to your next questions.

You need to politely ask him what is the relevance of the further information he requires to the goal that you are both aiming to achieve. It may even be that he is highlighting a genuine issue that you have omitted to consider.

If this is not the case, and he recognises that the information he is insisting on is not actually relevant, it is wise not to point that out to him as that will increase his sense of inadequacy, which his whole ‘Information Junkie’ persona is designed to mask.

You can save him from publicly acknowledging his fear of inadequacy by asking him some further questions:

Ask him whether the cost of the delay in making and implementing this decision can be afforded.

Ask him on what basis can the decision be made now so that a start can be made on its implementation.

Ask him whether it is practical to make a start based on the current information, and then to modify the strategy if necessary as and when more information becomes available.

The Information Junkie tends to be a logical rather than an emotional type, so as you guide him gently through an analytical examination of the current situation, without pressing him to make an instant decision, he will be able to analyse the cost/loss variables of making a decision and proceed accordingly.

How to handle the Workers’ Champion at Work

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This type of person has an attitude of ‘Us, The Poorly Paid Workers vs. ‘You, The Rich Fat Cat Management’. When you ask him (or her) to implement a strategy, he assesses it against his benchmark of whether it benefits the workers. He may challenge you directly on this point or may quietly sabotage and delay changes that he does not approve of.

So how can you handle the Workers’ Champion type successfully so that he cooperates with you and your goal is achieved?

The Workers’ Champion has a strong belief system and will not easily back down. It is also important to recognise that he does have the interests of the organisation as a whole at heart. However, are his values in alignment with the organisational values? In the longer term if they are not aligned, he may need encouraging to move on to another organisation that is a better match for his beliefs.

In the short term and especially if his values are in alignment with the organisation values, you would be wise to listen to what he is suggesting, even though he can seem aggressive in his approach to you. Listen to understand his intentions and not to reply to his strident tone. His tone may be saying ‘I think you are an idiot for not considering this factor of how your proposal impacts on the workers’.

However, if you want him to cooperate with you both now and in the future, you would be advised to ignore the tone of voice and openly consider the factor he is pointing out to you. Allow a discussion to develop on it, seeking his opinion.

By adopting this approach, you will earn his respect and cooperation, and may even benefit from an improved proposal.

How To Handle the Showman At Work

Handling Showman At Work - Handling Difficult People

This is the type of person who is often hugely entertaining and highly popular within the workplace, so he (or she) may seem an unlikely obstacle to your progress in implementing your strategies.

However, his (or her) problem is that he talks too much. At meetings he wants his voice to be heard and wants to be seen as the star of the show. Even if he does not have anything productive to add to the matter under discussion, he will have a lot to say about any topic. Any meeting he attends becomes a long performance, wasting your time, although it may seem that your colleagues find it enjoyable entertainment.

So how can you handle the Showman type successfully so that he cooperates with you and your goal is achieved?

This type of person lacks depth of knowledge on many subjects and has developed a protective way of distracting attention from this lack through being humorous. What you need is a technique for handling him so that he will stop showing off at meetings that you attend together in the future and also will work actively with you as a team.

During the meeting when he is taking centre stage, you need to analyse what he is saying into points and to feed back a concise summary to him. For example, you might say, “So you are saying that point one is (whatever he has said), point two is (another of his statements), and point three is (another of his statements), yes?”

He then understands that you are listening to him, taking careful note of everything he is saying. You then continue by asking him, “Can you help me understand the logical link between these three points?”

He will not be able to do this easily as a link between the three points probably does not exist. He will feel embarrassed at showing himself up in this way, and will become silent. You need to save him from his embarrassment by saying to the meeting, “I think what (Mr Showman) meant to say was …” and then follow it with some relevant points that he can then claim as indeed being his intention.

By doing this, he recognises that you have a clear understanding on the topic that he does not have, and that you have saved him from disclosing that lack of knowledge publicly. In future, he is unlikely to talk out of turn at meetings that you attend together and will listen to your contributions, feeling he is a part of your team.

How To Handle The Pedantic Rule Follower At Work

Blog Post: How to handle the Pedantic Rule Follower at work.

This is the type of person who insists on following the rules to the letter, even when it is explained to him (or her) that the situation is urgent and speed is essential. He is more concerned that he has done everything correctly, even if it means that the goal is missed. He is rigid and has no situational flexibility.

If you get frustrated with his apparent inability to grasp your need for speed and you challenge him to work more quickly, he will dig his heels in. He will match your frustration with his performance with his frustration with you for harassing him. This type of scenario can quickly escalate either into a full-blown shouting match or he will deliberately continue with his work at an even slower pace.

So how to handle the Pedantic Rule Follower successfully so that he cooperates with you and your goal is achieved?

The most important point to remember is to never challenge him to work faster or to break the rules for you. Keep any frustration you may feel with him under wraps and speak to him calmly.

Explain the situation and the deadline, and the cost of not meeting that deadline, and ask him if that cost can be afforded. Give him the responsibility for finding a solution for you so that he feels his wisdom is valuable and valued. Give him the feeling that he is the one who has the power to affect the outcome of this situation.

The pedantic rule follower’s fear is of being criticised for being wrong, and thus not being accepted or approved of. Therefore to avoid this he wants to do his work perfectly. But for him to be able to work perfectly he needs to work on his own plan and plan his own deadlines. Once he knows the deadline then he is clear on how to make a plan of his own; working on his own priorities and also deciding on what to do and what not to do.

By asking him to help you solve your problem with the reassurance that you accept he has to work within the existing rules, you are empowering him to use his intelligence to find a creative solution for you. The feeling of being powerful releases his ability to think creatively and gives him the power of situational flexibility.

11 Types of Difficult People You Find At Work

11 Types of Difficult People at Work

Difficult people in the workplace come in many different guises. What they have in common is that they get in your way, either unintentionally or deliberately. They obstruct you from achieving your corporate goals. Here are eleven different types that you may have come across in your career.

1: The Pedantic Rule Follower

They insist on following the rules to the letter, even if it is explained to them that the situation is urgent and speed is essential. They are more concerned that they have done everything correctly, even if it means that the goal is missed. They are rigid and have no situational flexibility.

2: The Showman

They are often hugely entertaining and highly popular, so may seem an unlikely obstacle. The problem is, they talk too much. At meetings they want their voice to be heard and to be the star of the show. Even if they do not have anything productive to add, they will have a lot to say about any topic. Any meeting they are in becomes a long performance, wasting your time.

3: The Worker’s Champion

They have an ‘Us, The Poorly Paid Workers vs ‘You, The Rich Fat Cat Management’ attitude. When you ask them to implement a strategy, they assess it against their benchmark of whether it benefits the workers. They may challenge you directly on this point or may quietly sabotage and delay changes that they do not approve of.

4: The Information Junkie

For this type of person, information is power, and they can never get enough of it. They will not make a decision until they have all the information, and having ALL the information is a never-ending excuse to not proceed. They would not accept that they are slow at making decisions, it is just that it is vital to them to just get one more piece of evidence, and then another, and so on.

5: The Report Commissioner

This type is not indecisive, but is playing a power game. They deliberately suggest preparing yet another report on a project because they want to delay it from proceeding without it looking as if they are the one holding it up. They can maintain their innocent stance while achieving their obstructive objective.

6: The Negative Nancy

When presented with any idea, they say ‘That’s not possible because ……’ or ‘That won’t work because ……’ and then stop. If a proposal has ten positive aspects and one negative one, they focus only on the negative one.

7: The Bystander

This type of person is happy to stand on the sidelines and watch the action, but if you approach them to help they are quick to reply ‘That’s not my job’. They won’t take responsibility for anything outside of their (very narrow) remit.

8: The ‘I’m Too Busy’

When asked for their input, they say ‘I haven’t got time to do that’ or ‘The team’s too busy’. They seem overwhelmed and incapable of thinking rationally, and are affronted that you should want to pile yet more on their to-do list. They hope that if they put you off, you will go away and leave them alone.

9: The Silent Striker

For some reason they have become demotivated and have decided to take silent strike action while remaining at their desk. They have not informed their manager of their grievances but are doing the minimum work they can get away with, or doing it as slowly as possible.

10: The Player

They are playing office politics. Their plan is to obstruct your progress and make you look bad in the eyes of your seniors. They will then produce some last minute miracle that makes them look the hero and receive lots of praise.

11: The Ditherer

When you ask them to make a decision, they reply ‘Let me think about it and get back to you’. And that is the last you hear from them unless you chase them up, when they will probably fob you off with another delay. Ditherers’ indecision is motivated by differing factors, giving many sub-types of the ditherer. But all of them can severely slow down your progress.

In our next series of blog posts, we’ll look at how to handle each of these difficult people successfully so that they do not delay your progress in achieving your goals.