How to Manage Difficult People

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Valerie Pelan for Talent Management magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.

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Half the battle in dealing with tough office personalities is identifying their individual quirks. The rest requires a cool head and a sound, customized strategy.

Imagine the following office scenario. Bill, the engineering manager, and Mary, the accounting manager, are discussing an interdepartmental meeting where nothing was accomplished because of two other managers who tried to derail the meeting with negative actions and comments.

Sam, the operations manager, walked out when no one agreed with his “it won’t work” attitude. Jonathan, the vice president of marketing, tried to delay the project by not making a decision on the marketing collateral and suddenly disapproving of a well-positioned supplier.

“It was good you decided to end the meeting and reschedule it for tomorrow,” Mary said to Bill. “I want to hear your solutions on how to manage these two. The project needs to stay on timeline and in budget.”

On the way back to his office, Bill recalled a communications workshop he attended last year. It helped improve the accounting team’s cohesiveness and understanding of different people’s communication style.

The facilitator used DISC assessment, which focuses on behavior and how a person communicates. DISC is a group of psychological inventories developed by psychologist John G. Geier and is based on the work of William M. Marston. From the assessment report participants learned how to recognize four different communication styles and how to effectively communicate with types different from their own.

Communication is critical for leaders and employees working on global and diverse teams. When employees understand their communication style, they can modify and adjust to improve their situational effectiveness.

DISC is about how a person behaves and prefers to give and receive information. It does not offer information on how intelligent people are, their background or experience. There are no good or bad styles, and people can be a blend of more than one.

The DISC Assessment is known for these communication and behavior types: D (Dominance), I (Influence), S (Steadiness) and C (Compliance):

•  D: How a person responds to problems and challenges. This style is a bottom-line organizer, forward-looking, challenge-oriented, initiates projects and is innovative.

•  I: How a person influences people and contacts. This style is optimistic, enthusiastic, creative at problem solving, team oriented and can negotiate conflict.

•  S: How a person responds to pace and consistency. This style is dependable, team oriented, patient, empathic, logical, loyal and will support a leader and a cause.

•  C: How a person responds to procedures and compliance. This style maintains high standards, is conscientious, clarifies information and tests out directives, asks the right questions and focuses on task completion.
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To read the complete article, please click here.
Valerie Pelan is president of Integrated Focus, a management and leadership consultancy. She can be reached at her firm.
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