Performance appraisals, work assignments and accountability are just a few workplace situations wherein managers generally say, “I have to give you assignments; I have to give you feedback; I have to hold you accountable.” And in these situations, employees, much like children, are left to take feedback, and to take assignments while left passively waiting to be held accountable, rather than taking the initiative to “be more” and to “do more” for themselves.
Direct confrontation is no way to handle disruptive and difficult personalities. Admonishments like “stop being so dramatic” or “toughen up” or “why do you always have to be so negative” increase defensiveness, making these folks even more difficult to manage and work with. We need a more subtle approach. We can’t change the person, however, we can change the behaviors that perpetuate the negativity and the drama and all the rest to make these difficult employees more productive and better team members.