Their emotionality is the norm to them, so they may not observe that other people have different boundaries. Just five extra minutes per day can make a big difference. Here are some common characteristics of needy employees: This behavior could stem from a variety of things. “Every single week we had these managers go around the room to talk about the problems they were having. This might mean turning to friends outside the workplace, or even a mental health professional who can help them talk through their emotions in a safe space. Then, after lunch, he pokes his head into your office to get your feedback on what he’s accomplished thus far. Visit our COVID-19 resource center for webinars, updates and tools. You can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Make sure you’re taking time to coach your employees. After onboarding, continue to have regular check-ins with your employees. Knowing that, it was easy to help him set a more practical objective. There's always something underlying the emotional response. “You might feel impatient, frustrated, and maybe guilty that you’re not giving this person enough.” The fact is, “there could be any number of things feeding this needy behavior,” says Linda Hill, professor at Harvard Business School and the coauthor of Being the Boss: The 3 Imperatives for Becoming a Great Leader. It’s your job to figure out how to address the root cause. These people likely require a little bit of hand-holding in their personal lives as well, and adjusting habits takes time and effort from both you and your direct reports. “She didn’t know how to deal with an employee who showed up late seven times in a row. If you can do this gracefully and with care, you will help this person, and everyone around them. “Say, ‘You’ve been coming in a lot for XYZ. She didn’t know how to motivate a sales rep that was missing his numbers. As time wore on and Alice developed more confidence as a leader, she became less needy. But source of John’s neediness was different. What I need you to do is reflect on why the reassurance I’ve offered hasn’t worked. This might mean turning to friends outside the workplace, or even a mental health professional who can help them talk through their emotions in a safe space. The fault isn’t theirs. Sometimes you need to reassure an employee who’s doing a good job that he is, in fact, doing a good job. All rights reserved. If so, you have to tread carefully in this area to ensure their workers’ rights aren’t compromised. It’s a quick, easy read full of tips for those at the top. What do you do about that needy person on your team? It’s crucial to remember that ignoring the situation is never the answer. “The more you let it fester, the worse it can get.”. Work with your employee to “brainstorm ways you can help him become more confident.” After all, “If he’s not confident, other people won’t have confidence in him either.”, Set boundaries If your employee continues to take advantage of your open-door policy, begin to “set clearer boundaries,” says Jen Su. Most managers wish they could give their team members more attention than they’re able to. Lastly, treat the needy person as if they are strong, not fragile. In your own conversation, be ready to back up your questions with specific behavioral examples. If, on the other hand, the person acknowledges the problem — as was the case with Tim — they may not understand just how damaging their behavior is to others. There was a lot of learning as they shared wins and losses.”. If you fail to indulge your employee’s needs, they will likely find alternative ways to meet them. But if Nick’s reliance on you and others continues, set a guideline for what is urgent and what can wait; and remind him of the planned check-in time. After all, an employee’s consistently confused or demanding behavior could stem from the lack of direction they receive—making it a management issue, not a performance issue. It was important that Anna made clear that alienating Tim or talking behind his back was unacceptable. “Some are emotionally needy. If they continue to overreach, you can bring them back to the agreed-upon boundary. Getting up and brushing themselves off isn’t always easy for someone whose work has been under scrutiny. Experiment with peer coaching, too. But what happens when someone takes that too far? His peers mistook that silence for fragility, when in reality, it was over-sensitivity. While this was a bold demand, I knew I had to take a step back and consider what made him make such a grandiose ask. The best approach is to help an emotionally dependent team member discover how to identify and meet their own needs. First, try to distinguish fragility from over-sensitivity. As a manager, you probably wish you could give all the people on your team more attention. If they mention that there is a personal reason for reassurance, make sure you let them know about help that’s available through your benefits plan, such as an employee assistance program, or EAP. “You want to be there for your team but your job is more about guiding and shepherding.” Be gracious. Anna started her conversation with Tim by asking, “I wonder if you realize the extent to which you look for the team’s reassurance?” She then demonstrated her intent to affirm his value, by quickly following up with, “While I’ve tried to tell you how important you are to our department, perhaps I’ve not been clear enough on how much I value your talent?”. To approach the issue, start by scheduling a one-on-one meeting with the employee at hand. For new employees, an organized, structured onboarding process sets a foundation of expectations. She suggests coming at the conversation from the angle of “professional development” — don’t make it personal. Employees aren’t going to want to take on new responsibilities if they fear their jobs are on the line, so be clear that the new tasks are learning experiences—and that mistakes are a normal part of the process. If you indulge the complaint by getting involved for them, you further reinforce emotional dependence among your team. They thrive on drama and try to suck you into the rat hole with them. Over-sensitive people, by contrast, focus their attention on relationships that provide affirmation. Or something else altogether? More training? When approached with similar requests, you should stop yourself from rolling your eyes and sighing loudly and instead try to understand where they’re coming from. Anna has developed a work environment in which people feel safe sharing their emotions. So, when does it go from being a positive experience to a negative one? “He was constantly knocking on my door, and it was frustrating,” says Kelly. “The company had a strict formula that dictated the number of calls salespeople needed to make and meetings they needed to have over a certain period,” Kelly explains. Whether you manage someone who repeatedly asks the same questions, overshares, needs constant affirmation, or struggles receiving criticism, the best way to resolve the issue is to address it head on. Tim was determined to garner the support of his team, and when excessively asking for it stopped working, he turned to silence. Model healthy boundaries. For example, without being harsh, judgmental, or dismissive, Anna could follow up with someone like Tim by saying, “I’m not sure how else I can reassure you about the quality of your work. You may want to bring in your human resources specialist in these instances. Her work has been published in The New York Times, USA Today, and The Financial Times.

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