The troublemaker. You know the type. He’s the noisy one. He ALWAYS has an opinion. He has no filter. Sometimes he raises his voice. When you see him coming you may find ways to look busy and avoid the conversation.
When no one is looking you may even mutter some choice words under your breath.
Most teams experience a “troublemaker” from time to time.
The Trouble with Troublemakers
I’ve found 3 troubling troubles with such troublemakers. What have you found?
Trouble #1: They Create Negative Energy
Unchecked troublemakers may create a negative drain on a positive team. They can dominate meetings. Others may try to stand up to them for a while, but give up when it just eggs them on.
Trouble #2: They Bring Out the Worst in Your Leadership
After a while these troublemakers may wear on you too. When you are under pressure, you may lose patience. You may stop listening. You may react in a negative way.
Trouble #3: They May Be Right
These “troublemakers” may be loud and frustrating, but they are often right. The real trouble is they are often worth listening to. Beneath all that noise and confusion, are often salient concerns worth checking out with the rest of the team.
Tips for Taming the Trouble
Here’s some techniques that I have found worthwhile. What would you add?
- Validate their feelings, ensure they feel heard
- Take it offline, don’t engage in debate in front of the team
- Schedule private time to hear their ideas
- Give them a specific, productive role on the team
- Keep them challenged
- Recognize their successes
- Provide space to talk about other issues they may be experiencing
- Talk with them about what would help them skip to work
Keep in mind that 99% of my team is between 18 and 21 years old, I’ve had a few troublemakers make it onto our team. When we don’t catch this during our interview process, it’s on us. What I’ve found works, is first to have an open and genuine conversation with the person. They either don’t realize what they are doing, or they struggle with wanting to react and be different. So, we develop some kind of signal. It can be a phrase I say, taking off my glasses….whatever they think will help them. Again, this sounds a bit childish…but I’m working with younger people who appreciate the coaching.
Eric, thanks so much. I love the idea of a signal, I imagine that could work in some other contexts as well.
Many times when someone’s angry, they’re looking for their voice to be heard. Other times my intuition says there’s something going on in their life that has nothing to do with me or the team.
Give em some lovin. Everyone is goin through somethin.
Steve, I’m with you.