A Different Way to Look at Your Problem People

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They were once an A-player.  You were happy with them.  They did a good job and were on your nice list, not your naughty list.

But they aren’t today.

Somewhere along the way, things have changed, and now they’re your problem.

Problem people.  The bane of your existence.  You don’t want to fire them, or maybe you can’t afford to severance them.  So, you ask the question everyone asks in this situation (this isn’t a theory, I sit in these discussions.  A. Lot.)

What’s wrong with them?

This question has lots of answers, and like picking at a scab, there’s a ghoulish fun to the endless speculation that can follow.

Here are some answers to the question:

  • The evidence suggests they’re just plain lazy
  • Caring about the job is gone
  • Being hateful gives them a kick
  • The person is playing out the clock til retirement
  • They’re just miserable, evil, toxic, jerks

Let’s make no mistake, some or all of these answers may be true about your problem people.

Now, in the interests of me earning gobs of cash and building a world class brand, (KIDDING) it must be said that I do have a course on how to do this 🙂 .  You can find it here:


And in case you think it isn’t nice to even think about these things let along talk about people in a group setting, you can check out my article (free) on that topic here:


Okay, back to the people discussions.

Here’s a different question to ask about them:

What’s happened to them?

I like this question, because, while not as fun, it might lead to something productive.  Also, it might have something to do with you.  Which sucks and is a lot less fun when you move to the assigning blame stage of the discussion.  However, there might be something that can be addressed so they can get back into that A-player box.

Here are some answers to that question:

  • You (or someone else) has broken trust with them and never fixed it
  • The role they’re in doesn’t take advantage of their strengths and they’re bored/discouraged
  • They’ve never received feedback and might be shocked to know what you really think
  • Their poor behaviour was tolerated for too long, and they started thinking that it was okay (see previous)
  • They’re reporting to someone who doesn’t like them
  • They’ve gone through a personal catastrophe that has spilled into their work life

My suggestion is that you simply change the question you’re asking as you’re dealing with your problem people.  Asking the right question might help you root out a problem that can be fixed.

Give it a try!  Live dangerously!  And add your comments below!

Getting ahead is about getting started!

Trevor head shot in office 1

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at professionalleadershipinstitute.com https://professionalleadershipinstitute.com/

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” here: https://www.amazon.com/Power-People-Skills-Dramatically-Performance/dp/1632651068

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Written by Trevor Throness
Trevor is a veteran coach, keynote speaker, and the author of the book “The Power of People Skills” released by Career Press NY in 2017. He’s also written for or been featured in places like Forbes, Inc, The NY Post, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, CEO Magazine, and numerous podcasts and interviews.


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