How can I talk to my employee about her tendency to annoy people? She likes to work collaboratively to develop ideas, but it has begun to be burdensome for her colleagues. She seems to be high maintenance, mulling over minor little details and dragging things out unnecessarily. Is there a tactful way to tell her she needs to build a better rapport with her colleagues? They’ll all need to continue to work together.
Here's my answer:
I would use this situation as an opportunity to have (or initiate if you don’t have them already) a monthly sit-down with every member of your team. You can deliver constructive performance feedback and also broach interpersonal issues. If the employee in question understands that you are speaking to everyone as part of the team’s professional development, she will feel less threatened at the get-go. Hopefully, this will make it easier to be honest with her.
The caveat, however, is that you will still need to be tactful. Do not use the words “annoying” or “high-maintenance” – this will come across mean and accusatory and she’ll be right to be turned off. Focus less on her personality and more on things that can actually be improved, such as her communication techniques. Suggest ways she might be more effective in gaining cooperation from and building rapport with her colleagues (understanding people style, proposing a win/win, etc.), and include some strategies that have worked for you in the past.
You might also wish to pre-empt future altercations by thinking through a process for completing projects that the entire team can adhere to, complete with milestones and deadlines. In explaining this process to her, emphasize the importance of sticking to the schedule and getting work product out the door. If she knows she will be evaluated on how efficiently a project is completed, perhaps she’ll think twice about dragging it out.
For answers from three other terrific experts, check out the full post at Intuit's Fast Track blog.