Update: This has been one of my most popular posts. While Hyatt’s article summarized below is about addressing a problem with someone who reports to you, one problem that repeatedly comes up is how to deal with a peer who is disrespectful.
If that’s your situation, check out Season 2 Episode 4 of Becoming a Geek Leader. That page has a free helpful worksheet to guide you through the process and a full transcript of the episode, too
This week as I’ve worked with clients, I’ve heard stories about challenges with disrespect. These stories remind me of the time that I had a direct scream at a peer on another team. He was frustrated with her and decided that a tirade was the appropriate response. I learned of this when Sally’s manager called me. Sally’s manager said that Joe* had screamed at Sally* in the middle of the office, and that Sally was shaken, and VERY upset. What was I going to do about it? I had not heard about it until then. I was embarrassed that one of my team members had done that. It was inexcusable!
Michael Hyatt recently posted a podcast episode on “Why You Must Confront Seemingly Indispensable but Disrespectful Team Members“
I think it’s a must-listen, and wanted to summarize his main points here.
- Get clear in your thinking. Did they really cross the line this time? Is this worth risking *your* job?
- Count the cost. – This is a “bet your job” moment – A test of your leadership.
- Secure your supervisor’s support. Make sure that your boss sees that the offender is hurting the whole team, and that you plan to peacefully resolve the issue – but if you cannot you will terminate the offender for cause. Without that support, you’ll resign.
- Confront the disrespectful employee quickly. Let them know that disagreements are ok, but you cannot and will not tolerate disrespectful employees. They have two options – apologize to you and everyone who witnessed the behavior, or you’ll terminate them for cause. Period. Whatever you do in this situation will affect your reputation with your team.
- Give the offender time to think about it, and a deadline. Tell the offender that you want him to take the next 24 hours to think about it and then you expect an answer.
As Hyatt says, this is a test of your leadership, and you’d better believe that people are watching. Either way, it affects your credibility as a leader.
These are great tips, and I strongly suggest that you leverage them to your advantage!
What do you think? Have you ever had an issue with a disrespectful team member? Please post a comment below!
PS – Some of you may be wondering what happened with Joe and Sally. It’s a long story, but I did manage to confront Joe about it. Joe had lots of issues in his personal life which affected his judgment, but regardless this was unacceptable. He agreed to apologize to Sally, and she was willing to let it go. I had to re-assign someone else to work with her. Unfortunately that was just one in a long string of issues with Joe. Eventually Joe ended up leaving the company.