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Edition 175 – Passive Aggressives……..Again!

In edition 135 of Growth (29th August, 2018), I talked about Passive Aggressive personalities and the destructive role they play inside too many family businesses.

I’m revisiting this today as, over the past few weeks, I’ve had three instances made known to me of Passive Aggressives playing their games and, in the process, creating stress and disruption…again!.

Sometimes it is their attitude towards their co-workers that creates the stress. Be they rude, dismissive, impatient (and often all three), they engage in a stupid power play to show their co-workers where each of them resides in the pecking order.

Sometimes it is their attitude towards their managers when it comes to completing tasks or undertaking additional training that creates the stress. You know the look – or the sigh – that lights up brighter than the Coca Cola neon sign at the top of William Street in Kings Cross as they convey their utter disdain for their manager.

Except, today is not about revisiting war stories. Today is about dealing with the individual and their behaviour!

As the owner or a manager in a family business, you have three options for dealing with this type of behaviour.

  1. Sack them! The upside is they’ll be gone from your business. The downside is they’ll create carnage on the way out the door, and will have you before the Fair Work Commission quicker than they’ve left the building.
  2. Turn up the wick – fast! By this, I mean apply the blowtorch to their behaviour and point out to them examples of the disruption it has created. The upside is that it can go one of two ways – they’ll move on or they’ll pick up their performance. The downside is they’ll dig in for the long haul – and fight fire with fire.
  3. The slow roast is the third option, and my favoured one. You start addressing the individual in informal situations about one or two issues that you have come across. The key is to be consistent. Don’t raise their behaviour as an issue, then not follow up additional examples in short succession. The key here is for you, as the owner or manager, to expose the individual for their behaviour then, by pointing it out to them, make them feel uncomfortable and exposed.

In a situation I had to deal with in my former business life, I started dealing with it when work performance slipped. The individual was uncomfortable with me remarking their previously excellent performance was now sub-par.

When that individual then dealt poorly with a junior member of staff, I managed the situation immediately, firmly – expressing my unhappiness at their behaviour and making very clear to them that I will not allow a repeat to occur.

When tasks were assigned, but rebuffed for goodness knows what reason, I was quick to point out that the individual’s plate was not full, they had the capacity to do the work and there was no reason for them to refuse the work.

In the end, it took 9 months, but the individual ultimately made their own decision to leave. They had been slow roasted and I achieved my desired result without the pain and emotion of having to sack them.

You simply cannot (and should not) put up with Passive Aggressive personalities in your family business. They are, essentially, double agents that need to be expelled.

Start early when dealing with Passive Aggressives – then remain consistent in your dealings with them.