I recently read an article written by Travis Bradberry entitled, "Nine Types of People Who Never Succeed At Work", and it immediately got me thinking. This quote stood out to me: "None of these behaviors are a career death sentence because they can be eradicated through improved emotional intelligence. All it takes is a little self-awareness and a strong desire to change." Let's face it- we all work with people who fit the characteristics that Travis details in this article. But this begs the question- do you simply wait for the employee or coworker to become self-aware on their own schedule, or do you intervene and propel the change? The fact is that many of these people have these character traits because they've never been challenged or developed by a peer or supervisor. Firing these people would be more of a strain on your company or group financially, so what do you do with these nine types of people who never succeed at work? I say, coach them. Here's some key questions you could ask when coaching these nine types of people. (It'll help if you read the article written by Dr. Bradberry here first).
Coaching the Nine Types of People Who Never Succeed At Work
The coward- Address the behavior of blaming others by asking important questions like, "What makes you think that's someone else's fault?" Try using a 3rd party question, which allows perspective taking and lowers the defenses of the person you're questioning. An example would be, "If your best friend were here right now and you had to answer her honestly, what would you say to her?"
The Dementor- This type of character exhibits behavior that tends to suck the life out of the room, is usually negative, and brings the energy level down. With this type of person, try using observational coaching. Have them observe someone that is demonstrating positive behavior you would like to see this employee take on. Follow up with a question like, "What did you observe in that person that you think is a valuable trait to have in the workplace?"
The arrogant- He's the best salesperson in the office, or at least he thinks so. He's resistant to feedback, and even more resistant to change. Sound familiar? I'd try using a technique that allows this person some reflection time. By using a hypothetical question, it helps lull them into a state of truly being honest with themselves. For example: Bob, hypothetically if you had to name two things you could do to become more of a team player, what would those be?
The group-thinker- Change is hard for a lot of people, especially a group thinker. This person often likes to stick with the status quo. Try using a risk question, which puts this person in a position of understanding what could happen if they refuse to accept change that is happening. Ultimately, it helps them see the importance of embracing that change. For example: Bob what risk do you assume if you do not embrace the new operating system?
The temperamental- It's one thing to get upset or show emotion in the moment, but this person consistently lets this form of behavior interfere with being productive at work. It's important to note that this may be due to things that are out of your realm of responsibility; however, much of coaching is simply creating the opportunity to have this type of conversation. Use a permission based question in combination with a sword question- this skill combines respect and lowering of defenses in order to ask a question that may cause conflict. This would look something like: May I have your permission to ask something that may be difficult to answer? Great, just so I don't make assumptions, which wouldn't be fair to you, I've noticed your behavior has been a bit temperamental lately. What do you think about that perception?
The victim- This person CONSTANTLY blames their shortcomings on others or their environments, which can sometimes be the case- so be careful. This person, however, has definite shortcomings that interfere with their success. Use an opposite insertion question to help this person achieve the desired behavior you're wanting- accountability. What will you do to achieve more accountability in your day to day work?
The apologizer, the gullible, and the short-changed- I've grouped all of these people together due to their common trait- lack of confidence. We see this fairly often- whether these people received a lack of training, have experienced constant take downs, or they simply have a less confident personality. Use a rating question to demonstrate their understanding of this deficit, while also iterating that growth is a partnership between the two of you. "On a scale of 1 to 6, with 6 not being scared at all, and 1 being very scared, how would you rate your confidence level with *xyz?" Follow this question up with the partnership confirmation in the form of "Based on what you said, what do WE need to do to move you closer to a 6- not being scared at all?"
In all of these nine characters, they demonstrate some fairly common workplace "elephants" that get in the way of growth and achievement. In order to obtain the outcomes you're desiring, it's important to address these behaviors outright, and steer them towards the outcomes you're looking for. Remember- these behaviors aren't who these people are, they're merely manifestations of insecurities and troubled issues that the person has dealt with for a long time. Think of your employees or coworkers- I'm sure you can think of at least one person that truly fits the description of these "characters". But, it's important to remember that we all have bits of these traits within ourselves, and so does everyone in your workplace. Learning how to address the behavior overall will help you reach even those who only demonstrate a glimpse of these behaviors.
Everyone is unique, but we all have some commonalities when it comes to personality traits. Want to create a coaching culture that addresses the issues you face at your office? Check out our upcoming webinar below: