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If you are a manager or business owner you will have come across this personality; the member of staff who when you give them a job to do comes up with half a dozen reasons why it can’t be done. The response of most managers is to leave it and get on with their job because they haven’t got the time or energy to get into a debate. 

I’ve taken that approach myself in the past and ended up kicking myself for not dealing with the issue there and then, because when the problem came up again I had even less time and energy to deal with it. So I’ve learnt through bitter experience that, if someone is being obstructive, I tell them that’s how it looks to me and then take one of two options.  

  1. If I think that they actually have the best interests of the organisation at heart and they are trying to be helpful, I ask them to do the job the way they have been asked to and I will take responsibility if it goes wrong. Then I give them a different problem to solve telling them to get back to me with a solution when they have one. If they come back with an answer I have identified someone that I need to encourage. 
  1. If I think they are being argumentative in order to avoid work, and believe me the effort some people put into avoiding work is far greater than if they did the job in the first place, I give them 5 other jobs to do because if they have time to start a debate with me, they clearly aren’t busy enough. 

The tricky bit is remembering to make a note of these conversations on their file. Why?  

Well if you are faced with making some difficult changes to your organisation that could result in redundancies you can use this information in the selection criteria for those that are being made redundant. The worst thing you can do is go through the pain of such changes and find you are left with a workforce made up of the obstructive and lazy because all the quiet staff who just got on with their job, have left.