Dealing with People
By Philip Elworth
As a business owner dealing with people is part of the job. How you deal with those people however is a choice you make each day. Have you ever noticed when you offer advice and feedback to some people they accept it and grow, but with others, you tell them over and over and see no change? There is a reason for this.
Dr. Henry Cloud, in his book Necessary Endings, speaks to this topic. I recently had the opportunity to hear him speak and his insights can help us all. Dr. Cloud uses the Biblical descriptions of people and even though the language is old, the truth of what he says has been well documented. Dr. Cloud uses three categories of people: the Wise; The Foolish; and The Evil. You can tell which category someone fits by observing how the individual responds to the truth about themselves or their behavior. Do they accept what you say or do they blame someone else? Are they internally focused or external in their response?
The Wise are individuals who are always looking to grow and learn. If you offer advice, correction or feedback to them, they listen, think about it and choose to change accordingly. Your strategy for dealing with the Wise is to coach them, resource them and challenge them. Your biggest risk with the Wise is that they are under challenged and leave. Your goal is to match your requirements for them with their skill set so they do not become frustrated.
The Fools are often very bright and gifted individuals. If you try and shed light on what is not working with them, they will do everything to reflect the light and shift blame to everyone else, including you, the messenger. The first response they make is external. With a Fool you can tell them over and over that things need to change but you find that nothing really does. Your strategy with a Fool is to stop talking. You will find that these individuals are interfering with your goals and vision for the organization and it is your responsibility to make the change. You must deal with a Fool by setting limits and if those limits are exceeded you need to follow up with consequences. Tell them they need to change certain behavior and get their buy in on the consequences; if the change does not happen then you need to follow through with the execution of the consequences. If Fools continue to operate in your company, then your vision for the company will be negatively impacted.
The Evil: Unfortunately there are people in the world who just want to tear down what you have created. They are divisive and stir up trouble in your organization. Unfortunately, there is no dealing with a person with the intent to be negative. You must move quickly to a protection mode; you cannot help them and you should not even try. Your best strategy is to get your attorney involved and be prepared for a fight. These are the employees that will sue you and try and disrupt or harm your organization and you need to protect yourself from them.
It is easier to deal with people who need to move on; when you consider the negative impact they are having on your organization, your vision and your goal for the future. As a business owner you need to be surrounded by those who share your vision and will help craft it, not destroy it.