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Manager’s Checkup: Handling workaholic behavior on your team

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

It's one thing to work hard and get the job done. It's another thing to be a workaholic whose habits ultimately get in the way of good performance. How do you handle workaholic behavior on your team? Take this quiz and find out:

1. Pete does high-quality work, but he seems more motivated by fear of failure than by a genuine desire to succeed. You:

A. Do nothing, as long as he maintains his level of performance.

B. Remind Pete that's he's a fine worker and shouldn't be afraid.

C. Work with Pete to vary his assignments and encourage his growth.

2. Tommi works intensely on her chosen projects but grumbles and gripes when you ask her to do something else. You:

A. Ask her to set aside times to be available for other tasks.

B. Counsel her about her negative attitude.

C. Let her focus on her projects as much as possible.

3. Stan's colleagues say he's so zealous about getting the job done right that he meddles with their work. You:

A. Rearrange assignments so that Stan does all these tasks himself.

B. Clarify for Stan what is and isn't acceptable behavior.

C. Set up a meeting for Stan and his colleagues to discuss the issue.

4. Eleanor often understimates the amount of time a project will take and then rushes to complete it. You:

A. Ask for frequent progress reports so that Eleanor will pace herself.

B. Do nothing, unless Eleanor's work is sloppy as a result.

C. Set firm deadlines and consequences if Eleanor fails to meet them.

5. Mike is preoccupied with making money, even though he doesn't really need it, and takes on a lot of extra work to earn more. You:

A. Decide that Mike's motivation is none of your business.

B. Limit the amount of extra work Mike can take on.

C. Offer Mike non-cash opportunities, like training.

What do your answers mean?

Here's what the experts said:

1. C gives you a chance to help Pete without playing into his fears, while B simply reinforces his skewed view of work. A will eventually lead Pete to burnout.

2. A is a practical way to get Tommi to look beyond her own projects, while C avoids an issue you should handle. B may be appropriate, but it's not a solution to the problem.

3. In this case, B is best: sometimes, the right thing to say is "Don't do that." A rewards Stan's unwise behavior, while C likewise says Stan's meddling may be justified.

4. A is always a good strategy to handle time-management problems. C seems unnecessary, since that's why Eleanor rushes in the first place. B makes it inevitable that Eleanor's work will eventually be sloppy.

5. This is a problem, so A is not advised. It may be a problem you can't solve, but C would be a key part of any solution. B is only justified if Mike's taking opportunities away from others.

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