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Chapter 8. Parrying the Difficult Thrust... > The Work and Responsibility Avoider - Pg. 81

Parrying the Difficult Thrusts 81 The Work and Responsibility Avoider You know the type: the person who doesn't want to go the extra mile--or even the regular mile. This is the person who looks at his shoes when you ask for volunteers. This may also be the person who always has some excuse for poor performance, exhibiting the "hey-it-isn't-my-fault" syndrome. OK, so first apply the old reality check principle. Is this a real problem worth addressing? Look at the consequences. Is it causing resentment on the part of other more responsible employees? Is it interfering with getting jobs done? Or is it just an occasional annoyance from a person who really is overworked? You decide whether this requires action (it usually does if it occurs over an extended period of time). The most important technique here is one we mentioned earlier, and that is the returning of re- sponsibility, coupled with a no-blaming approach. What we want to do is send the messages: · Looking down at your shoes isn't going to work with me. · Blaming others isn't going to work, either. This Won't Work! Don't assume the work or responsibility avoider is lazy or a poor employee. There may be other reasons why the person is avoiding work. One of the most common ones is a lack of confidence. In some cases it's worth- while to ask, privately, why he or she doesn't want to do a specific job. Here are a few specific things you can do. When Paula makes excuses or claims overwork as a reason for not taking on necessary respon- sibilities, respond like this: "OK, Paula, I understand you feel overworked [or a similar listening response]. So, let's sit down and figure out what we can do about that. Why don't you think about it, come up with some suggestions as to how we can get the work done, and let's meet tomorrow at 9 A.M ." See what you are doing? You're shifting the responsibility to solve the problem to the person who claims it is a problem, and you are doing so in a gentle constructive way. And you are sending the message that you expect people to take responsibility for solving problems, rather than complaining or avoiding work. Or, as in the previous situation, you can conduct a discussion among employees about how work should be assigned, again establishing some guidelines for the group that are generated by the group. The Meeting Disrupter The meeting disrupter can make meetings a horrible experience for all attendees. These folks use a number of techniques to focus attention on themselves, or are hypercritical, or take conversations into irrelevant areas. How do you handle these?