We’ve all had them – difficult finance team colleagues that make us want to tear our hair out. Whether it’s the know-it-all or the office gossip, challenging co-workers are a part of the gig. But accountants today often need to communicate collaboratively with different kinds of personalities to be successful. Here’s how to win over challenging finance team members.
Do you have specific triggers that you need to look at? Are there patterns of behaviour that you exhibit in response to those triggers? Have you often experienced difficulty with the same kind of personality type? The more you understand your own triggers the better you’ll be able to cope with a difficult team member.
Here’s a great article that can help you identify your emotional triggers and take proactive steps to address them.
Try to differentiate between whether your co-worker’s actions are simply ruffling your feathers, or limiting your ability to do your job well. Chances are it’s the former rather than the latter. While we can all be guilty of irritating behaviour (except for our staff of course, we’re, ahem, perfect) we seem to judge similar behaviour in others more harshly than in ourselves. Try coming from a place of acceptance and separating the person from the issue. You’d be surprised how freeing it can be.
Read this article that contains general tips on how to communicate with challenging personalities.
Get an Objective Perspective
Sit down and talk with a trusted colleague or friend about the situation. Explain that you are looking for objective feedback, not moral support. Be open to what he/she has to say. You may get a different perspective that can make the situation more tolerable.
Build a Relationship
A colleague who was a very successful sales rep did not like all of the clients she sold to. Her strategy – find something about the person that she admired and focus on that. She said that doing this changed the whole nature of the interaction. Try building a relationship with the colleague you find difficult. What are they passionate about? And remember, most people are fighting a battle you know nothing about.
Apparently, the actors playing Captain Kirk and Mr. Sulu did not really get along (gasp of dismay). Perhaps it’s because they never sat down and addressed the problem.
Ask your co-worker for some time. Meet in a neutral place and keep everything as non-judgemental as possible. Use “I” statements to identify the challenging behaviour and the impact that it is having. Invite feedback. Most people aren’t purposely trying to be annoying. Perhaps they perceive something in your behaviour that is a trigger for them. Don’t get defensive if this is the case. You’re trying to nip the problem in the bud, not exacerbate it. Document the conversation afterwards.
Has the behaviour improved? Is it impacting team performance? Can you have another conversation with your colleague? Is it wise to escalate the situation? Are other colleagues impacted? If you do decide to escalate the situation prepare for the discussion with HR or your boss carefully. Focus on how your finance team member’s behaviour is impacting your ability to do your job. Keep it professional. Explain how you have tried to resolve the behaviour and ask for advice. Be open to whatever solution HR or your manager recommends. Ultimately, this kind of escalation is truly a last resort option, so if you go there, be prepared.
Having a challenging finance team colleague to deal with can be difficult. Start by engaging in some honest self-reflection about your triggers. Talk to a trusted friend or colleague about the situation and ask for feedback. Try and build a relationship by identifying some common ground, or something that your colleague is passionate about. If this doesn’t work, sit down and have a gentle conversation about the situation. It may be that your colleague is unaware of the challenges his/her behaviour presents. Evaluate later whether there has been a change. If not, can you live with it and do you need to take the risk of escalating it? At the end of the day, you need a strategy for being productive and happy at work, so take the steps you need to.
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