How to Deal With & Manage Difficult People At Work
29th July 2011 by Rachel Willis
In any industry there is a wide variety of people to work with. Some are great to work with and make things very easy, but some people can be very difficult to manage and deal with! I often split people between "A Team" people and "B Team" people.
There are loads of A Team people in every industry. Typically A Team people make things look easy, work hard, prepare, never take anything for granted and perhaps, most importantly, they trust the people they work with.
The A Team isn’t the only team though. There is another; the “B Team”.
The B Team typically lack confidence, don’t prepare, take most things for granted and don’t trust anyone.
In simple terms the A Team’s objective is to complete the job in hand and in our case, make the show happen. The B Team spend their time and effort doing everything they can to stop that happening!
You will all have met B Team members, you might know them well, you might work with them; you might even be one!
To explain this further I’ll give you an example which you might be able to relate to. Imagine you’re presenting at a conference. You’re prepared, you’ve created a PowerPoint presentation and you’ve rehearsed. You are a classic A Team player. On the morning of your presentation, just before the shows about to start, a colleague sidles up to you and says ‘I need you to add this information to your presentation and I’ve created a slide to support it. I’ve written in the notes what I need you to say. I think it’s important you add this information. OK?’B TEAM BEHAVIOUR!!!
I’ve encountered the B Team many times while working on conferences and events and the main problem is you never know who they are until the day before the show. They could be the Communications Manager, the person in charge of turning on the projector, a colleague, a friend, a Boss! Whoever they are they will play no part in your success, but a major part in your downfall ( a bit like a Bank! ) But they don’t do this in an obvious way, it’s much more subtle than that.
Marshmallows are the B Team’s weapon of choice and they throw these at you one by one. By that I mean small almost unnoticeable comments that don’t hurt, but over time can develop to be a royal pain in the arse! I’ll give you some classic examples that I have experienced while producing events; ‘The lights are too bright, I think you should take some of the lights down.’ (You’re in Earls Court; if the lights aren’t bright no one will see you.) ‘I’d like to make some changes to my slides.’ (You’re due on stage in front of a huge audience in 5 minutes, now is not the time to make changes.) ‘I don’t think you should show that slide’ (That would have been helpful about a week ago!) ‘I don’t do rehearsing; I don’t want to look too rehearsed.’ (This isn’t just about you, the crew need to rehearse. You are clearly an amateur!) I could go on and on but you get the idea…
So how do you deal with the B Team? We’ll that’s easy.
The way to deal with a B Team member is to turn to them and politely say ‘Who’s going to be held accountable for this’? Then you wait and say nothing. Wait until the lights have gone off and everyone’s gone home. Eventually the B Team member will say ‘You are.’ Then you say ‘Well, if I’m going to be held accountable I want to say how it’s done.’
It’s a simple phrase, but it works every time. So, next time you find yourself being hit with marshmallows of criticism, changes, or absolute tosh, just throw that sentence their way. I guarantee it’ll work.
Importantly it’s worth knowing that the A Team always wins. At the end of the show they are on the top of the mountain waving the flag while the B Team are left floundering at the bottom, or more often than not, have disappeared to go and throw marshmallows at someone else!
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