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Are you a boss–or a therapist?

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

One employee does a terrific job but is needy with a capital N—frequently visiting your office for heart-to-hearts about a slew of worries.

Your challenge is to give the staffer adequate guidance without letting the person monopolize your time. Shutting the employee out will only make matters worse. Your needy staffer may begin to distract teammates by turning them into sounding boards.

Strategy: The next time your needy employee heads toward your office, resist the urge to slam the door. Instead, listen. If you have heard the story before, say: “Yes, you told me about that. I know it was stressful for you. But you got through it, which is great. Now I need to focus on what I was doing.”

Keep this in mind: If the problem is personal, supply the number of your organization’s employee assistance program or an appropriate outside resource.

Say: “I am sorry you are going through that, but I am not qualified to help. I strongly recommend that you seek assistance; here are some numbers. I wish you the best of luck. Now I really need to go back to work—and so do you.”

One last word: If the needy employee talks constantly about work, perhaps you aren’t giving adequate feedback. Take every reasonable opportunity to stop by the person’s desk and offer well-earned praise.

For example, say: “You did a great job this morning with that unhappy customer. Thanks for handling the situation so well.”

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