There Will Always Be Those People

Talking recently with an experienced employee in Malaysia’s creative industries, he told us about a certain type of person he had been dealing with lately. As he moved from assignment to assignment he kept encountering supervisors who seemed closed-minded and who had attitudes suggesting that they, and only they, knew everything, and didn’t want to hear from anyone else. That’s not helpful in any leadership situation, particularly a creative one, and he finally said something to one of these supervisors.

Her response? “You are always going to have people like me, so how are you going to deal with it?”

That was a little sad to hear, because it does seem to be the reality. Bad bosses (and, for that matter, bad coworkers) always seem to exist, and rather than them fixing their attitudes, everyone else seems to have to adapt to them. Why do we tolerate this? Why do the good, productive employees have to put up with the bad ones? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Well, it should, of course, but for a variety of reasons the bad employees often get away with it. Part of the reason is that your good employees don’t want to add any more difficulty to the working environment and so they just push through, trying to ignore the negative behavior and produce in spite of it, rather than adding more conflict to the atmosphere. Part of it may be that many people simply don’t know how to have these difficult conversations and don’t know who to ask for help. A large part of it, of course, is that many people simply aren’t comfortable with confrontation and would rather ignore the situation; workplace bullies and other jackasses know this, and use it to their advantage.

It doesn’t do you any good to have these dynamics in your workplace. If there is that one person that everyone is always complaining about, it’s going to have a negative effect on overall productivity, and someone needs to do someone about it. That someone, of course, is you. Your job as a leader is to make sure your employees have what they need to do their best work, and that includes having the right atmosphere, and the right relationships, to be able to work without the distractions caused by negative people. If you see problems, if your employees come to you with problems, you cannot simply ignore them. If you are not comfortable with confrontation, get comfortable; there are ways to handle this that don’t have to be hostile. Get advice on how to have these discussions, practice with your peers…don’t be embarrassed because you don’t know how to best deal with it, but do feel embarrassed if you simply ignore the problem.

It should go without saying, of course, that the bad leader, the one with the attitude, should never be YOU.