Why Irritating Employees are Good for Business

Julie Bawden-Davis

They grate on your nerves and set your teeth on edge, but certain types of employees can benefit your small business. If you want to boost business and grow your company, you’ll have to learn how to deal with “annoying” employees. Here is a list of the five most irritating employees and how they can be some of your company’s best assets.

1. Nitpickers

Employees who comb through every aspect of their jobs and point out even minor problems or discrepancies may annoy you with their thoroughness, but having someone analyze the finer points of your business is just what you need—particularly if you’re focused on the bigger picture.

Solution: Rather than think of such employees as irritating, consider them detail-oriented and dedicated to doing the best job possible. Use this strength to your advantage. Choose positions for such employees where thoroughness and detail matter, such as those in the financial area of your business or in product ordering and inventory management.

2. Creatives

Creative people concoct unique and innovative ideas that can lead to extraordinary inventions, but such employees tend to be esoteric and eclectic and forge their own paths. Those traits can make managing them challenging when it comes to ensuring that they follow best practices and mesh socially with the rest of your team.

Solution: Realize that without the infusion of creative juices and the revolutionary ideas that come from their brainstorming, your company isn’t likely to survive in the long run. When presented with what might seem like far-out concepts, take the time to listen to creative employees with an open mind. At the same time, send a clear message that like everyone else, they must abide by company rules. For instance, insist that they follow protocol when it comes to presenting their new ideas and that they attend all mandatory meetings and adhere to the dress code.

3. Cheerleaders

Perpetually cheerful, smiling employees can be aggravating when they insist on always looking at the positives—despite a grim reality. You most likely don’t want to hear about the “bright side” when you’ve lost an important client or sales are low.

Solution: Keep in mind that we all deal with setbacks in different ways. Rather than become aggravated when a cheerleader starts cheering, remind yourself that the employee’s attitude is in the right place. Soak up some of the optimism and suggest your other employees do the same. Also take advantage of the cheerleader’s strengths. Consider putting such an employee in the human resources side of your company.

4. Chatterboxes

Employees who talk incessantly can wear down the entire office. You may feel like telling such workers to simply stop talking and start working. If you’ve ever known a chatterbox, though, you’ve probably found that talking is not something such a person can shut off easily or at all.

Solution: Your best move with a talker is to put the employee into your company’s customer service department where talking is a necessity. Good customer service is all about communication. Remind chatty employees to make sure to listen to customers, but otherwise encourage them to communicate with clients via phone, instant messaging and email.

5. Leaders

As a small business owner, it’s natural to be leery when a born leader appears to want your job. Individuals with a strong drive to spearhead projects can be a bit off-putting and even seem arrogant.

Solution: Although you don’t want to encourage leader types to aim for the position of CEO, you do want to harness their drive and determination so they can act as managers when you decide to grow your company. Such employees are also good candidates for heading up projects. Leaders understand and respect the chain of command, so make it clear where they stand and then watch them shine.

When it comes to employees who irritate you, it’s all about perspective. Change your views, and you’re likely to find tangible ways to use the talents of some of your strongest employees to benefit your small business.

Next Steps:  Are you looking to manage your employees more effectively but don’t have time to keep up with the latest research and trends in talent management? We’ve got you covered with the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter. Sign up today and start receiving the weekly newsletter chock full of the latest tools and resources to help you run a successful business.

13 Responses to "Why Irritating Employees are Good for Business"

    • Marvin Kisely | January 30, 2018 at 6:30 pm

      What about 35 year old employees that can’t read a tape measure?

    • Dave Simon | January 31, 2018 at 1:08 am

      I’d like to hear positive spins on different personality types that often exist on a team. these here are great but would to hear more of this

    • Bryan Hadlock | January 31, 2018 at 8:15 am

      I’ve very much enjoyed what you’ve been posting. On the flip side, I would like to see direct ways to deal with issues in addition to always taking the positive approach. Today’s employees often need direct hard enforcement for things to sink in.

      1. I would like to see something about both owners and employees using excuses all the time and your providing defined business explanations between using excuses all the time compared to reasons for something occurring. My opinion is an excuse is a reason why someone failed to do what they were responsible for.

      2. Both employees, managers and owners constantly allowing their personal life to effect their responsibilities during their 8 hour day. While an owner or manager may have the ability to be flexible while working, when it happens all the time, the negative effect on all other employees is HUGE. Others having to pick up portions of that person’s work, regardless of how small as well as others thinking that they can do the same.

    • Joe Black | January 31, 2018 at 11:34 am

      To Marvin, maybe your employee is dyslexic. He may or may not know it. As the brother and father of highly dyslexic people, I can tell you that they are smart and make great employees. My son, who is highly dyslexic, works in construction. He went to a high school that dealt with learning disabilities. there is no real cure for it, but knowing what the problem is makes a huge difference, and learning workarounds. I’m somewhat dyslexic and I have to measure twice, sometimes three times to be sure. My son has to pay very close attention to his writing down of numbers and information. They tend to be very detailed and work best in organized environments. They are no visual learners, but if you read some instructions to them, they do very well. Hire the dyslexic! But, be careful how you manage them.

    • Steven Smith | January 31, 2018 at 11:37 am

      I have all of these types of employees and they are beyond control. The creative ones always have great ideas when we are hours behind schedule and they want to argue about how their idea is a better way of doing something. They never take into account that I am very inventive and have been doing this work for 15 years. The worst is the elderly man I hired who is too proud to admit he needs a hearing aid. Having to scream at him for him to hear me makes me feel very obnoxious in front of my clients. He has a million bad ideas every day he would like to discuss. (Loudly). He has a lot of experience in other areas and has a lot of good ideas but it’s impossible to get him to do what you want him to without yelling at him.
      Any ideas about how to deal with a legally deaf employee who refuses to admit he needs a hearing aid?

    • Paula | January 31, 2018 at 11:57 am

      2 excellent books in this regard: “The Schmuck in my Office: How to Deal Effectively with People at Work” by Foster and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dealing with Difficult Employees” by Bacal

    • Sharon | January 31, 2018 at 1:18 pm

      I’m a former Audiologist: With a hearing impaired employee, if their job requires them to hear, it is a reasonable expectation that they be able to perform, as in get a hearing aid. Since it is a very personal item, you cannot go out and buy one for them. If they choose to not do something about it, you have a choice: privately tell them they are not meeting the demands of the job, give them 90 days to resolve the issue, then terminate if they do not. That’s not age discrimination, it’s what a reasonable person would do.
      And that’s what a lawyer taught me. Always say to yourself, what would a reasonable person do.
      Good luck.

    • Nicole | January 31, 2018 at 2:18 pm

      At Mervyn: teach them. I worked in welding for several years at. 1/16″ and zero tolereance. Understand how important this is. Also know that lots of workers new to the field, age 18 and up, don’t really know how to read a tape accurately. Its not something taught past elementary school and rarely used in standard hs classes. Most kids aren’t building or tinkering at home. Don’t call them out. Don’t belittle them. Teach them.

    • Nicole | January 31, 2018 at 2:19 pm

      *At Marvin

    • john | February 6, 2018 at 12:14 pm

      I am hearing impaired. I am also reasonably intelligent.My advice is to realize that hearing assistive devices are frequently not covered by insurance plans. Persons with this condition do not always realize how annoying their problem is to others. It is not discriminatory to identify the issue especially if you offer to help. The devices are very expensive. Make an offer to share in the cost of assessment and treatment.

    • Joanne Burke | February 28, 2018 at 11:12 am

      What about a 30 year old woman who has the personality and attitude of a 17 year old? That doesn’t mess well in the office. Crying three times a week because of frustration and unable to multitask.

    • Paula | February 28, 2018 at 1:12 pm

      You definitely need to read the 2 books I recommended to know how to proceed with this employee:

      2 excellent books in this regard: “The Schmuck in my Office: How to Deal Effectively with People at Work” by Foster and “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dealing with Difficult Employees” by Bacal

    • Mike Hughes | April 11, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      No one uses the word hearing impaired any longer. You are either hard of hearing or deaf (Deaf). Have a good day.

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