One of the reasons you hire one candidate over another is because of the individual´s drive and enthusiasm. Place two prospective employees next to each other whose skills and experience are identical. How do you choose? Many employers would select the candidate who seems the most interested, the one most likely to put 200% into the position. Often, that´s also the person who has more energy, more pizzazz, and more high-maintenance traits. Sure, it´s a trade-off, but that doesn´t mean anyone necessarily loses. Indeed, you and your company can achieve great strides with high-maintenance people. The trick is knowing how to harness their energy so that everyone´s a winner.
Last week I wrote about identifying these kinds of workers. A few might even lurk right down the hall. But instead of ignoring their high-maintenance behavior or hoping it gets channeled into something useful take a proactive stance and do something about their demanding personality traits.
Let´s take perfection. We all know that phrase about no one being perfect, but sometimes wouldn´t you just like to have a little bit of that perfection stuff-higher than normal sales one month, adding three extra clients to the roster instead of one, enjoying low absenteeism for a month? Of course life isn´t like that and the more we wish for perfection the more we are disappointed. For high-maintenance employees, this adoration and addiction, in a sense, can be destructive. For example, a high-maintenance employee may get so hung up with crafting the perfect memorandum that he neglects the deadline for distributing the memo, which somehow puts an entire project into a tailspin, and no one is happy.
High-maintenance employees also tend to act quickly, often without thinking clearly. On the other hand, sometimes quick thinking is necessary, especially during a crisis. Author Katherine Graham Leviss wants us to understand why these types of employees are good for companies. Graham Leviss, who wrote High-Maintenance Employees (and who I wrote about last week), wants us to find ways to incorporate their characteristics into the workplace. She writes, "Companies with high-maintenance employees . . . are more likely to respond quickly to changing environments. With high-maintenance employees, a company can drive to results more quickly: create, build, ship products, close business." In other words, they´re not willing to stop until they´ve achieved their goals. That´s mostly a good thing though in some situations it might need a little taming. Graham Leviss says high-maintenance employees are relentless when it comes to achieving goals. That can be problematic and incredibly frustrating for them when obstacles are thrown into their paths. That´s where your help comes in. When you identify an obstacle-or someone identifies one for you-do what you can to minimize or eliminate it. Also, try to help your high-maintenance staffer deal with the frustration. Have you ever watched someone become totally unhinged because he or she cannot circumvent an obstacle? It´s painful to watch sometimes. Imagine what it´s like for that person. And then help them in a way that their high-maintenance selves can handle. For example, work with them in a style that´s familiar to them. Graham Leviss offers this sage advice: "In working with your high-maintenance employees, the more you can work with them in a way that compliments their natural styles, the more successful the solutions will be and the greater their ownership of the process." In other words, speak their language, move at their speed, and help them understand your objectives.
Next time: developing your employees & the ubiquitous staff meeting