If you’ve managed people for some time, you’ve most likely had to deal with a needy employee who makes a hobby out of pursuing unreasonable demands. She may even lean toward delusions of grandeur as she pushes for more control and a salary that exceeds her skill level. Most managers dread speaking to these employees to a point of avoidance, but avoid them you cannot. Instead, learn to, not only manage this employee’s expectations but also to help them feel valued and happy within your organization.
Vip Sandhir, CEO and founder of HighGround says that having delusions of grandeur is a coveted trait. “Both, entrepreneurs and employees may possess a high degree of delusions of grandeur,” says Sandhir. “That’s not a bad thing because you can’t be great unless you think you’re great.”
When an employee isn’t satisfied at work, don’t assume that they’re being unreasonably needy. Instead, set out to understand them better. “Sometimes their requests seem delusional–and that’s actually healthy,” says Sandhir. “It’s not healthy, however, when they are unable to accomplish what they think they can.”
Don’t avoid the employee who comes to you with demands for more control, higher wages, paid yoga classes, or a corner office. Sandhir says to seek to understand why they are making such demands by communicating with them differently. The results will instill a positive change in your culture and pay back over time.
Be an active listener.
Hear out your employee and their crazy idea instead of dismissing it. From a manager’s perspective, the key to giving helpful feedback is to actively listen to the employee’s needs and concerns. It’s not helpful at all to be dismissive. Managers should hear the idea and then come back with a realistic solution or option.
Focus on the why behind the request, not the what.
Managers need to process every idea posed by employees, and then digest and understand why they might be making such requests. If, for instance, a twenty-three-year-old wants to run their department, understand the reasoning that’s hidden behind the request. Is it because they feel like I don’t have enough responsibility and accountability? Break down their grandiose idea by asking the right questions and encouraging the employee to talk about their feelings.
Help employees set goals to make objectives practical.
When employees set ‘reach’ goals, like becoming the top salesperson, it’s up to you to help them turn this very big idea into a more practical goal and boil it down to three actionable and measurable steps. Managers need to empower their employees and make sure they’re armed with right tools to hit their objectives. Your employee must be able to control the path to their goal.
Check-in with employees regularly to keep goals on track.
Good athletic coaches don’t wait until the end of the game to start coaching their players. Managers can become better coaches to demanding employees by implementing quarterly check-ins. This approach gives employees clarity on their performance and what they need to do to reach their goals since feedback is provided more regularly, as opposed to the outdated idea of annual performance reviews. Regular meetings provide the opportunity to recognize key achievements sooner, which instills greater motivation. You can also course-correct if the coal isn’t going well, setting your employee (and yourself) for success, rather than dismal failure.
Does the idea of mentoring your employees and holding quarterly meetings overwhelm you? Not to worry. “The process starts with employee initiating the conversation,” says Sandhir. “It’s up to them to write up a report on their progress, bring problems and solutions to the table, and identify competencies to work on as you mentor them to success.”
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.