Quiz 14: Understanding Individual Behavior


Manager H is in-charge of a large software installation project. The timeframe was very short, and they are nearing the deadline. His team has been under a lot of pressure and one member has left the company, making achievement of the deadline even tougher. Manager H has shown a number of characteristics that make him a poor fit for his position. Specifically, he is much more interested in technical issues than people. He prefers to do work himself rather than working in a team, and he is oblivious to the feelings of his team about the project. An executive coach would explain to Manager H that as a manager, "people" issues are a new priority and that his team can only accomplish their goals if he pays attention to both technical and interpersonal issues. The coach would help him to become aware of the interpersonal issues on his team today, and methods he could use to address them.

A team member who is always negative can impact the entire work team through emotional contagion, where people "catch" the emotions of those around them. Managers need to limit the impact of the negative employee on the rest of the team. The first step is to discuss with the employee the observations of the manager - specifically that the employee is displaying negative behavior and appear to be unhappy or stressed. Then, they should ask the employee what is causing their distress. The employee might blame external factors - such as specific aspects of the job or work load - or internal factors, such as personal issues they are currently undergoing. The manager can then determine the best way to improve the situation. Some options include: adjusting work responsibilities to reduce workload or change the person with whom the employee interacts with on a regular basis; modifying workload so that the employee works independently while they are unhappy; arranging for help through an Employee Assistance Program or by setting up a leave of absence; or other arrangements depending on the specifics of the employee's situation.

S has a dilemma: The budget for a high-profile program she is expected to manage is flawed, and her new boss has told her to "make it work". S should choose option 2. Since S is in charge of the program, the project's success or failure will be attributed to her efforts - even though she was not on board when the original budget was developed. She should find the time to prepare an updated budget that falls within the original cost figure and gives the anticipated training to all front-line employees, but provides less to other staff. This allows her to be a team player without setting herself up as the fall person when the original budget proves to come up short for the project objectives.