Article: Dealing with a 'needy' employee at work

Employee Engagement

Dealing with a 'needy' employee at work

Managing a needy person is an incredibly tricky situation. You may as well be tempted to turn a deaf ear, but is that really a solution?
Dealing with a 'needy' employee at work

Managing and matching up to the expectations of a needy employee can be quite challenging. If you have this person on your team then we totally understand why you always keep running out of patience. Actually, we won’t even be surprised if you admit to having failed in your attempts at getting them off your back. It’s absolutely normal. Them reaching out to you every other minute or hour can get to your nerves and also impair your judgement. 

So, to help you look at your situation from a new perspective we figured out a few ways you can deal with your problem child at work. Ready to take the bull by its horns? 

Diagnose what makes them needy? 

Every behaviour has a cause and while you are not a behavioural psychologist you can still diagnose the source. Figure out why they feel the need to check with you all the time? Did they work under a helicopter boss? Are they under-confident? Do they have enough experience of working on their own? Did they get promotion a little too soon? Did they undergo sufficient training to settle down in their current role? These are the questions you should find answers to. Are you guiding them well? If you are not then their behaviour is perhaps natural. They reach out to you just to be sure they are on track. Also, reflect on your management style because sometimes we tend to look for reasons elsewhere when they could as well be stemming from you. Hint: are you a micromanager?

Have a talk

The only way to find an answer to any problem is by having a conversation. Do watch your tone. Don’t dismiss their ‘needy’ behaviour as inappropriate.  It can intimidate them and as a result they may withdraw from answering honestly. Needless to say that it defeats the purpose of the meeting itself. 

Try build the discussion by first focusing on your observation: ‘I have noticed that we spent a considerable amount of time reviewing you work, every day. Am I getting too involved when I should let you be on your own?’ Ask them if your guidelines are vague perhaps and is that why they keep coming to you. Give them enough time to reflect; don’t hurry. Most importantly, listen with an intent and try not to jump to conclusions. 

If you, however, feel their neediness is a result of lack of confidence ask them how you can gain it. Will a training help? Make them feel valued and say that you do see potential in them. Give them control over decision-making without having to come to you all the time. Tell them that unless they are ready to make mistakes they will never learn. And, if they do make mistakes be tolerant. 

Recognise their efforts

Try to bump up your needy employees’ confidence levels by appreciating them. Say, “you did a wonderful job in the meeting today” or “you have handled the project quite maturely”. For all you know their neediness was a consequence of your ignoring their efforts and so they resorted to getting your attention by latching on to you. Emphasise on how they can take on projects independently. It will definitely boost their confidence. 

Final word

Just because a needy employee takes too much of your time doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Deal with them with an open mind and talk them out of their dependency on you. There’s certainly no rule book to guide you how to tackle them so just take it one day at a time. Of course will make mistakes but hopefully you will learn too. As you will notice, it will require you to be extremely involved initially and in the end you will realise that your efforts will pay off. 

Have you ever dealt with such a high maintenance employee? Perhaps share a remedy with your peers who might benefit from it? 

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Employee Relations

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