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Chapter 19. Difficult Colleagues > The Work Killers - Pg. 205

Difficult Colleagues 205 As with the resource hog, it's likely that you aren't the only one affected by an insensitive peer, so others will be interested in solving the problem. Schedule a discussion at a team meeting if you can. Keep the issue general, and try to keep the discussion positive, specific, and non-blaming. Here's one way to present the issue to the group. I know we've all been under a lot of stress lately, and maybe we've been a bit short with each other. I think it's important for all of us to work well as a team, so maybe we should revisit how we want to be treated and how we should be treating each other. After all, we can't afford to be arguing among ourselves all the time, and we can't expect to treat our customers and employees any better than we treat ourselves. Do you folks think this is something worth talking about?" Notice the tone. Nobody is singled out. And it's phrased in a helpful, positive way. No-Fault Teflon Co-workers I just hate these folks. The no-fault Teflon co-worker is the person who is never responsible when things go wrong. It's always someone else or some other part of the organization that's screwed up. Or maybe it's you. Teflon people have no problem accepting praise, though. Apart from being annoying, the Teflon co-worker interferes with solving problems. Let's say the Teflon manager's work unit has screwed up on something, but he or she completely denies any responsibility for the screw-up. How are you ever going to make sure that the problem doesn't occur again? You can't, unless the person needed to solve the problem at least admits he or she is part of the problem. From the Manager's Desk Don't go after the Teflon co-worker on principle. Only make it an issue if you see it having a specific damaging effect. Keep in mind that most people can see through the Teflon co-worker's smoke. Dealing with a Teflon co-worker is difficult at the best of times. All the usual rules apply if you want to try a direct approach: calm, not blaming, problem-solving focus, good timing, and so on. Frankly, I'm not sure that's going to work. And the indirect approach (using other team members to develop solutions or apply some subtle pressure) isn't likely to work either. Teflon people really don't believe they're at fault. So whether you talk to the person directly or more subtly, the teflon person won't recognize that the problem relates to him, or will deny it and do the teflon thing once again. I think the main tactic here is to involve your boss (presumably the same boss as your co-worker). We'll come back to that in the next chapter. Before we leave this, again, always separate the an- noying frustrating part from the actual factual problem. You're going to need to be calm and problem- focused when you approach the boss. Backstabbers and Gossips These are the folks who, either maliciously or out of habit, like to gossip or talk behind other people's backs. More often than not their intent is not malicious (at least for gossips). They just like to appear to be in the know. It enhances a false sense of worth on their part. Let's look at the backstabbers' situation, because it is more likely to be intentionally malicious.