Sunday, June 15, 2008
Dealing with Difficult People
We all, at some point, have to deal with difficult people. When I was the President/Dean at CEIBS, I used to marvel at how difficult some people could be; frequently, although not exclusively, they were faculty with an inflated sense of self-importance. Frankly, some of these people were difficult and not worth it! Those people received very little, if any, of my attention, and ultimately were separated from the school. Others were difficult and, yet, still worth having on-board, despite how unpleasant it was to be around them. In most cases, I could never succeed in reducing the inherent difficulty in working with them... I used to wonder if they woke up angry?... but we managed to maintain an acceptable working arrangement. It led me to believe that there is a 2x2 matrix around difficulty and value. Those individuals that are both difficult and low in value are unnecessary; those who are valuable and not difficult are great; those who are not valuable but also not difficult should be eased out; and those who are difficult, yet valuable, kept on despite their difficulty. I was reminded of this by reading the comment of baseball manager Joe McCarthy, faced, in 1948 with managing the notoriously difficult, but all-time great Ted Williams: "If I can't get along with a .400 hitter, it will be my fault." Amen!