For the most part, your team is great. You have built a workplace culture where people like to collaborate and share ideas. But there are some employees who are plain difficult to manage. From the brilliant loner who repels collaborating with other team members to the Mr. Know-it-all who thinks he knows more than you, some people make the role of being a manager a challenging one.
So how do you respond? Here are some ways to manage people who do not want to be managed:
Assign a Training Role
So-called expert employees can be the most difficult to manage. Due to a higher level of expertise and knowledge than anyone else in the field, they may often act rude and impatient and, thus fail to build relationships with their co-workers. Plus, if an employee is more experienced than you, he is likely to see you as a peer, not as someone he could turn to seek help and get feedback. In fact, he may not see any need for a manager at all, which is why managing him could be very hard!
This sort of personality is invariably aware of their worth to the organization and the last thing you would want is to lose them to competitors. At the same time, you cannot let them dissuade others from expressing their ideas and monopolize the floor during meetings.
One strategy is to put him in a position of intellectual authority and assign him the role of a trainer, so he can communicate his knowledge to others. This will also support your employee’s career growth as he becomes more welcoming to others’ point of views.
Adopt a Coaching Style of Management
One way to manage people who resist being managed is to make them feel independent and special. Sticking to traditional methods of management – in other words, focusing on rewards and sanctions – will only drive them away. High-performing employees respond specifically well to a trust-based style of management. So, rather than being an autocratic leader, adopt the role of the benevolent collaborator.
So what does a coaching style of management look like? Probably the first thing that comes to your mind is the image of a boss working alongside his employees, engrossed in solving problems together. Yes, that’s right. However, a coaching style of management also necessitates a little backing off, delegating responsibilities and allowing employees the freedom to handle projects creatively. Talented employees tend to get more engaged in a system where they feel their contributions matter and they have the power to influence the process.
It is natural to expect your employees to be innovative, think outside the box and continuously look for better ways to solve problems. But you don’t want them to change a stated rule, process or guideline unilaterally. So in order to prevent your guidelines and rules from getting broken later, it is important to make your team a part and come up with a better process together.
In case an employee doesn’t follow the best practices, rules, or guidelines set by you, step in immediately. Maybe they will make excuses about being too busy or not having enough time to complete the tasks assigned to them or even justify making changes in the process on their own. Whatever their response, until you change the practice or revise them, expectations are expectations. If you fail to act at that point and intervene, it is likely that they will undermine your authority.
Put Effectiveness before Everything Else
As a manager, your main job is to be effective because at the end of the day, you need to decide whether an unmanageable employee is a liability or an asset.
Of course, if he’s an asset, you’ll want to invest in him. If he’s a mediocre employee who routinely challenges your authority, it may be time to terminate the relationship. On the other hand, some of the most qualified employees can also be very difficult to manage. However, the value they bring to your organization may outweigh the problems they cause. So, it ultimately depends on the competence of that particular employee.