"Employees can be very demanding, and sometimes they're high performers, so you feel like you have to put up with them.
- They demand your time and attention.
- They demand answers.
- They're impatient and judgmental.
- They're intrusive and persistent.
They hold you accountable, and they can be a real pain in the ass!
Their demands can feel like attacks on you, but they have nothing to do with you. They're demanding with everyone. These people are self-centered and they lack empathy. They're on a mission, and they see those around them, including you, as a means to an end.
Here's what you do with demanding, high-performing employees.
- Don't take it personal because it's nothing to do with you,
- Don't expect them to change because they won't, and
- Don't make promises you can't keep because they will come back to haunt you!
Sometimes we just want to make them shut up. We say things like, "Let me look into it" or, "I'll get back to you." But if you do that, you're just giving them another chance to be demanding. When they make unreasonable demands, hold your ground and explain what you can do for them. And don't apologize. When you do, you just encourage more aggressive behavior. Here's what you can say. "I hear what you're saying, and that's not possible. But here's what I can do for you."
If they complain about you or give feedback that's unreasonable, don't debate with them. You want to disarm them. Here's what that might sound like. "Hey, I'm sorry that you feel that way, but you know, I accept how you feel, and I do appreciate your feedback."
When they demand answers you don't have, acknowledge their uncertainty and focus them on their choices. Here's what that might sound like. "I don't know yet, but I'll let you know when I do. In the meantime, what's your best course of action?"
Listen, you're going to have demanding employees, and some of them are going to be worth putting up with. But don't take it personally. Set your boundaries and anticipate their demands in advance. Don't debate and don't overcommit.
The more you can mentally rehearse these interactions, the better. These people aren't going to change, but you can manage them on your terms, not theirs."
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