10 People You Don't Want to Manage

Keyboard and mouseWhen you're a manager most of your time is taken up with managing people. If people were all the same they'd be a standard way of managing them. But they're not and there isn't. Here are a few tips for managing the tricky ones:


The Promising One
In every team there is someone who shows promise. This is not to be confused with sales people who make promises for a living. This is the person who is shaping up to be your successor. If they are more than ten years younger than you this can be moderately irritating as it makes you look like a bit of a late developer/plodder.

Of course the best way of helping them to acquire the skills necessary to do your job in the future is to give them most of it to do now, saving only the really juicy bits for yourself. If they can cope with it, you can work on getting your own promotion and, if they can't, then they're clearly not as promising as they thought.

The Cabbage
Despite rigorous interview procedures and massive competition for jobs there always seems to be someone in every office who is totally inert. They must have done a brilliant interview and then collapsed with the effort never to stir again.

Empowering the inert is like attempting to roll a brick. Motivational coaching techniques have as much effect on them as CPR on a lemon meringue pudding.

The inert have spent the very little energy they have on working out the absolute minimum they can do at work and still stay awake. The best way of managing them is to position them in the office to act as a human draught excluder.

The Intern
Internships are so rare these days that anyone successful in getting one is likely to be the most experienced and best qualified person in the company. Expect your intern to speak five languages, have an MBA and to be running a successful online business.

As their manager you shouldn't worry too much about what to give them to do because whatever you give them, they will also be doing their in-depth analysis of your business processes, prospects and positioning so that when they move on to their hedge fund they will have done all the homework required to buy out your company, sack half your workforce and outsource your manufacturing to Vietnam.

The Ideas Person
Ideas should be welcome in a company because every company has innovation at the top of its corporate agenda. If people aren't continually engaged in blue sky thinking it should be because they are inside the envelope pushing it out. In reality it's hard enough to keep things happening in a reasonably efficient manner without some bright spark continually coming up with ideas for 'step change improvement'.

One in about thirteen thousand ideas from this person will be practical and sensible and about half of them will not cost the entire gross profit of the company. When faced with a barrage of ideas, simply ask them to prepare a thorough business case for the idea. This will not only demonstrate to them that their ideas are a waste of time, money and life but will also keep them from coming up with any new ideas (unless it's a more creative way of preparing business cases).

Big Sales Beasts
Sales people will never be persuaded that they don't run the company and that they are the most sexy, exciting and vital part of the business. It never really occurs to them that the better the rest of the company is, the easier their sales are.

Sales people are easy to manage: they need targets and toys and there needs to be a direct relationship between the size of the targets and the shininess of the toys.

The Therapist
It's extremely hard to manage someone who sincerely believes that you can't manage to tie your laces let alone a department. When you try and tell this person anything they will put their head slightly on one side as if to suggest that what you've just said is an admission of a basic psychological flaw.

Their immediate response to the most basic instruction is, "what are you really trying to say there?" as if turning the printer off was some kind of dark Freudian lapse. Therapists have always been around in working life but the proliferation of cheap NLP courses has now given them a battery of therapy-speak to overcomplicate the simplest of interactions.

Managing them requires bargaining by saying that if they do the simple task you've given them you will then undertake to have a private meeting with them where you can unburden all your personal problems. This might also be the meeting where you transfer them to the Scarborough office.

The Delicate
Some people spend their life hovering on the edge of a minor nervous breakdown. Even the thought that there might be stress out there somewhere makes them feel stressed. Managing this kind of person is a challenge because just the fact that you're their manager leads them to feel threatened and speaking to them is akin to an assault with a deadly weapon. Ask the Therapist to manage them. They will love the challenge.

The Networker
Networking has always been a vital business skill. It's how good ideas and people move from one company to another. In the past only a few people actually enjoyed networking as it generally meant meeting new people and seeing how fast you could get them to reveal their job, budget and telephone number.

These days we're all incredibly sophisticated online networkers regularly sharing all our personal data with everyone on earth. As a manager you can ban people from using social networking sites but a much more effective way is to become their online friend. This will immediately remove virtually all the pleasure of being on line and may even encourage them to do something off line like work.

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