A Survival Guide to Managing Employees from Hell: Handling Idiots, Whiners, Slackers, and Other Workplace Demons

A Survival Guide to Managing Employees from Hell: Handling Idiots, Whiners, Slackers, and Other Workplace Demons

by Gini Scott


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All managers get saddled with ""problem"" employees from time to time; what sets great managers apart is how they deal with them. Drawing from real-life stories, this helpful and humorous guide provides readers with practical advice for handling a wide range of difficult types, including:

* The Impossible ""I""s: Incompetents, Idiots, and Imbeciles -- clueless employees who simply don't know what they're doing
* The Bull in the Office China Shop -- the frequently angry worker ready to confront anyone and everyone
* The Party-Time Performer -- the employee who, although great with people, constantly turns work-time into fun-time
* I've Got a Problem -- employees whose work is compromised by any of a range of personal demons, from drug and alcohol problems to emotional issues

From whiners and wastrels to the needy and nefarious, this book gives readers the tools they need to handle any type of difficult employee.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814474082
Publisher: AMACOM
Publication date: 12/08/2006
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 804,869
Product dimensions: 4.71(w) x 7.17(h) x 1.04(d)
Age Range: 15 Years

About the Author

Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D. (Oakland, CA) is the founder and director of Changemakers and Creative Communications & Research. She is the author of 35 books, including A Survival Guide for Working with Bad Bosses and A Survival Guide for Working with Humans. She wrote the "Work it Right!” column for the Oakland Tribune.

Read an Excerpt

A Survival Guide to Managing Employees from Hell

By Gini Graham Scott


Copyright © 2007 Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780814474082

Chapter One

The Arrogant A**Hole

"Insufferable" might be a way to describe the person who is good, knows he or she is good, and repeatedly lets other people know all about it. This is a person who is arrogant, abrasive, and obnoxious with co-workers, and who sometimes bullies those beneath him or her on the totem pole, turning them into jelly or reducing them to tears. Why would a person continue to get away with this? Because they are so good at what they do and they literally frighten others into backing down or backing off.

That's the situation which Sam faced when he took over as sales manager for a furniture sales company with a half-dozen sales people and several administrative clerks. Davis was the star performer, both in getting leads and closing sales, and on average he sold more per customer than anyone else on the sales team. But he was a terror to work with in the office.

As Sam described it, "Davis would browbeat the administrative people. Sometimes he would leave the clerk-typist in tears, although the next day he would come in with a flower for her to try to make up. He was also very demanding. He would often change things. Once he made a clerk redo a whole flyer because he decided after giving his approval that he didn't like a particular picture. So he chose a larger one, and the whole layout had to be changed."

In a few cases, clerks left and went to other jobs, or they tried some quiet sabotage to get back at Davis for his treatment of them. For instance, they might misspell a few words in a proposal or put in the wrong pricing information. Or rather than finish a proposal Davis needed, they would go home without completing it. But Davis was able to talk his way out of any errors or missing information with customers, so he continued to have a great sales record.

Sometimes Davis also engaged in unethical or even illegal tactics that contributed to sales. For example, once he created an incentive program for customers that broke the company's rules.

"He set up a frequent buyer program, and then he was rebating commissions to the customers to build up his sales stats," Sam explained. "But that's against company policy, because it would end up reducing the commissions for everyone. The whole thing would have blown up in the company's face if we didn't put a stop to it."

Several times, Sam talked to Davis about his behavior, and each time Davis would agree to change. He would be nicer to the clerical staff, he promised. He would follow company policies. Then, within a few days, he would be back to his old form again. However, since he was the company's top salesman, Sam wasn't sure what to do.

What Should Sam Do?

In Sam's place, what would you do and why? What do you think the outcomes of these different options would be? Here are some possibilities for what to do:

* Fire him even if he is the top salesman. No one likes him and he is creating too much havoc in the office with his arrogant behavior.

* Talk to Davis one last time and tell him to either learn to treat others decently or you will fire him even if he is the top salesman.

* Change Davis's territory so he has to struggle harder to make sales. If his sales decline, he may not be such an arrogant, a**hole.

* Tell Davis he will have to do his own administrative work from now on because the clerical staff will no longer work with him.

* Have a meeting with the clerical staff people to let them know you are aware of the situation. Urge them not to take Davis's rude behavior personally, to just go along with him and not let him upset them.

* Other?

The big problem is trying to reconcile Davis's superior performance with the demeaning way he treats others in the company. While it might be ideal to fire Davis, bottom line considerations for the company mean that you have to look at the profit from his sales compared to any losses that may result from his arrogant behavior, such as clerical staff leaving. Should his behavior cross over the line into being abusive, then you'll have to watch out for potential litigation from an administrative aide for creating a hostile workplace environment. But if Davis is just being a jerk and upsetting people with his last-minute changes and insults about being inept, the possibility of a lawsuit is probably not a factor.

As for talking to Davis, unless you are going to follow up by firing him, giving him one last warning is probably a futile gesture, particularly since talking to him hasn't worked in the past.

It also might be counterproductive for the company's success to make it harder for Davis to sell successfully, as would be the case if you suddenly changed his territory. Perhaps you might tell Davis he will have to do his own administrative work in the future because the staff no longer wants to work with him, unless he can persuade the staffers otherwise. Davis might realize that he has to trade being nicer to staff in order to get work he wants done although he can, of course, always do it himself.

Alternatively, if this tactic seems like it could undermine sales, you might take steps to calm down people in the office by meeting with the staff to explain the situation and help them better cope with dealing with Davis's behavior. If everyone can openly agree that Davis is really behaving like a jerk, they may be better able to support each other in learning to deal with him and not get upset by his antics.

In Sam's case, the situation did go on for several years while Davis continued to rack up sales, and the staffers simply learned to not get upset by Davis's actions. In fact, they sometimes even joked about the latest Davis put-down or bad behavior, so that became the way that everyone learned to adjust.

But what finally changed Davis is that he had a huge sales failure, followed by several other defeats. The first sales blow-up occurred after he worked long and hard on a big sale and lost it. He repeatedly told everyone in the office that he would get this giant sale, lording it over the other sales people as well as the administrative staff. But he wasn't able to give the company enough of a discount, even by cutting his commission; when another company came in at a better price, they canceled the deal. That was followed by two more smaller but important lost sales. Davis was crushed by the losses. But his loss was the gain for the company staffers. As Sam described, "He became a decent person, and he started treating others decently. He was no longer the big cheese at the company and he knew it."

Today's Take-Aways

* If someone's doing a good job of being an arrogant a**hole, do a good job of not letting that person's behavior bother you.

* When a person is being arrogant and obnoxious because they are doing a good job, once the good job ends, they are likely to stop.

* Being humbled is a good antidote to arrogance, and if you aren't able to humble that person, it's a good chance that someone or something else will.

* Think of dealing with someone who is arrogant but doing a good job like a cost-benefit analysis: does the benefit of the person's good job performance outweigh the costs of his arrogant behavior? If so, keep the relationship going; if not, overboard with the S.O.B.


Excerpted from A Survival Guide to Managing Employees from Hell by Gini Graham Scott Copyright © 2007 by Gini Graham Scott, Ph.D.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Part I: Bad Attitude

1. One Tough Babe

2. A Serious Threat

3. Prima Donna

4. The Arrogant A**Hole

5. Cultural Chasm

6. Negative Nelly or Ned

7. Spilling the Beans

Part II: Incompetent

8. The Impossible Intern

9. Damaged Goods

10. Getting It Wrong

11. Friends Forever

12. Protected by the Big Boss

13. Last to Know

Part III: Personal Issues

14. The Sensitive Soul

15. One Problem After Another

16. Too Much, Too Soon

17. Got Drugs?

18. In the Drink

19. Sick and Tired

20. Scary Employee

21. A Handful of Sex Problems

Part IV: Trust and Honesty

22. Liar, Liar!

23. It’s the Little Things

24. Over a Barrel

25. Con Job

26. Pay or Play

27. A Favor Backfires

28. On the Side

Part V: Communication

29. Communication Breakdown

30. What Are You Talking About?

31. Silence Is Golden

32. Who’s in Charge Here?

33. When the Cat’s Away

34. Putting the Customer First

Part VI: Putting It All Together

35. Bad Employee or Bad Boss?

36. How Bad is Your Employee (or Employees)?

A Self-Assessment Quiz

37. Knowing How to Deal

Appendix: Dealing with Difficult Employees Grid


About the Author"

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A Survival Guide to Managing Employees from Hell: Handling Idiots, Whiners, Slackers, and Other Workplace Demons 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
BucksLRC1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A very good book for anybody entering the HR field. These kinds of employees exist in large numbers, and the skills to deal with them are not necessarily innate. This book gives practical advice along with case studies and examples to underline points. Well worth the read.
TheLibraryhag on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I like the format of the book. It gives a case study, offers possible solutions and then analyzes the issues with each. It is clear that it is often the manager who is to blame for hiring/promoting the wrong person to the job. It is an eye opener in many cases, a confirmation of long held beliefs in others.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago