The Yorubas of South-Western Nigeria have a proverb: omo buruki l’ojo t’ire meaning “every bad person has his own day.” This proverb underlies the fact that some people could be incurably bad and difficult, but there will be a day when they badness will be the saving grace that people around him need.
Hold on! If you have a very stubborn and steely child, would you throw him out to the dogs? Would you disown him and leave him to injure himself because he is bad news? Of course not, you would find a way to manage him and even explore ways to help him channel his energies into more positive things. A difficult but brilliant employee could be so helped to be of value to the business if you’d only manage him and teach him to channel his energies to the good of his organisation.
What then do you need to do?
1. Give them a target to achieve: You may not realise this, but stubborn and difficult people have a steely determination to exert themselves and have their way in everything, and you only need to set them a goal to get them ticking away like a clock. Give a difficult employee something of challenge to do and you’d see him eager to prove himself. Difficult people are not necessarily unreasonable, they only want to do things their way and you must help them see the need to help your business in this light.
2. Put them in sales and marketing: Difficult and stubborn people tend to have tough mental fortitude to withstand pressure and fight off unpleasantness. They are dogged and tough at managing stressful conditions and traumatic market situations. Put them in charge of sales and marketing and you’d see them bringing in good money for the company where others before them have failed. They meet equally difficult customers and clients heads-on and manage to win them over to their sides; and they also bear up at managing challenging market segments – because they have strong mental fortitudes.
3. Set them after your debtors: Have you ever seen where a dog is set after a thief? Have you ever been chased by a dog that is unleashed to give you a run for your life? Just set difficult employees after difficult debtors and defaulters and sit back to await results. They deliver, and make good on the debt-recovery confidences reposed in them.
4. Set them up as managers: If you are ever weak as an entrepreneur at managing people, or your employees take you for granted in spite of being the CEO of your own organisation, then it is time to elevate difficult staffs to managerial and supervisory positions. They have a survival instinct and always able to ride out the storms in any organisations, and they are also better equipped mentally and physically to manage other staffs under them.
5. They have stronger shock-absorbers: Difficult and stubborn employees have better shock-absorbers at handling rebuffs and queries. They can always take it well without breaking down when you scold or reprimand them for anything, and they have the will to bounce back after being put down anywhere.
Photo credits: Annie Sullivan