• Thu, Oct 13 2011

Managing Men: How To Soothe A Bruised Ego

For some reason, women have always been seen as the weaker sex in the office. It’s assumed that we can’t take control of a situation or separate professional disagreements from personal feelings. It may be true that we’re less aggressive negotiators. But there’s one area where men seem to be the more emotional employees. The minute a man’s pride takes a hit, he becomes a bigger mess than any female I’ve ever worked with.

Forget mascara running down your face after a rough meeting, when a man’s ego is bruised, his entire body shows it. From the slumped shoulders to the pathetic scowl on his face, you can spot a guy whose sulking after a fight from a mile (or office) away. If you’ve ever dealt with a toddler directly after their time-out, this is exactly what we’re talking about. Except these are grown men who are supposed to be professionals.

I’ve always judged employees on how they accept responsibility and bounce back from their mistakes. My biggest pet peeve in the office is someone who refuses to admit when they’re wrong or gets so mentally worked up over their problem that they don’t fix it. Accountability is pretty high on my list of essential employee qualities. Unfortunately, some of these whiny little men simply can’t get over the ego shock of a error quick enough to actually fix the problem.

So to deal with these sulky employees, no matter what has deflated their self-assurance, here’s a few good things to remember:

  • Never reward bad behavior. The best management lesson I ever learned. Normally, if an employee starts throwing a pity-party, people simply try to comfort and reassure them until the ego heals. Instead, I refuse to indulge anyone in behaviors that I can’t stand. Instead of stroking that ego, I simply ignore it.
  • Seriously, avoid it at all costs. If an employee was just put in their place and now they want to sit down and discuss for an hour, make yourself busy. Don’t let them bring you into this personal issue. They looking for you to provide something that they need to be capable of getting on their own, a grip on in their emotional security. You cannot provide that to your employees.
  • Once the whining is done, respond positively. You can’t ignore bad behavior and then punish it. It’s like double jeopardy. Once your employee has unruffled their feathers, you need to let go of their temper tantrum and move past it. If they’re trying to move past it, that’s when you need to start encouraging them.
  • Don’t let the disease spread. A truly insecure employee can spread unhappiness like a disease. Get this person defensive and they’ll begin insulting anything and everyone to prove that they didn’t do anything wrong. A single bruised ego can infect your entire office. So if you see someone getting out of hand in their gloominess, give them the afternoon off or distract your staff with a quick meeting or new project. Anything to stop them from sitting around complaining.
Listen, I realize that it’s not only men who get a bruised ego, but I do find it to be predominately a male problem in my personal experience. Also, I know that not every man reacts to a mistake with a whining, pity-party. I’m simply trying to explain how I deal with those that do.
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