Tina Lewis Rowe

Insights, Information & Inspiration

How Far Should A Manager Go To Work Within An Employee’s Style?

Different styles can work--if they are not disruptive.

Personal Style or Pain in the Neck?

Each of us has a unique style based on an infinite number of contributing factors. A personal and professional challenge for each of us is to be what seems comfortable and right to us, without creating problems. A manager’s job is to work with the unique styles of all employees as much as possible. What should be the limit to those efforts?

1. When an employee’s quirks, traits, appearance or actions disrupt work or harm the work product or the organization.  A manager’s responsibility is to be alert for the very first indicators of problems and to take action immediately to ensure the employee corrects them.  

 In some work places one or a few employees have been disruptive for weeks, months or years! Of course, the employee should have enough sensitivity and awareness to see what he or she is doing and change it. And, coworkers should have enough confidence and conviction to do something about the things that bother them.  But, ultimately whose responsibility is it?

2. When unreasonable adjustments have to be made. If allowing the employee to work within his or her personal style would require adjustments of performance or behavior standards or the work environment, or an unreasonable tolerance by coworkers, the manager must ensure the employee adjusts to fit into the bigger picture, not the other way around.

Each of us wants the freedom to incorporate our personalities, preferences, experiences, knowledge and skills into our work. An effective manager faciliates individuality as much as possible.  Nevertheless, all employees should be hired, evaluated and retained based on their performance and behavior—and part of that involves adapting personal styles to the larger work environment.

The bottom line: It is possible for everyone to be comfortable within their personal styles, while not imposing those styles on others unreasonably. However, â€œThat’s just the way he is”, is never a reason for tolerating ineffective performance or behavior.

Do you know someone who creates many problems at work and everyone else makes adjustments to deal with that person? Who is that employee’s supervisor or manager? I hope it isn’t you.

November 27th, 2009 Posted by | Challenging and Problematic People, Personal and Professional Development, Service to Customers, Clients and Coworkers, Supervision and Management | 8 comments


  1. Two years ago I would have had to say yes to the last question, but not anymore! Thank you! P.

    Comment by P.A.H. | November 27, 2009

  2. Tina says: You’re a great example of leadership and effective supervision, Phyllis! Thanks for the comment. T.

    Comment by TLR | November 27, 2009

  3. Good stuff and needs to be said. We have someone at my work who drives us all to distraction with butting into everyone’s work (under the guise of just being helpful). She asks questions, reminds us, checks on our work, acts as though she is just trying to understand, etc. etc. Our boss says exactly what you quoted, “Ignore her. That’s just the way she is.” Our question is, “Why should we be the ones to adjust and try to overlook her upsetting actions?” I’m going to send him this post!!!!!!

    Comment by Harley Hobby | November 28, 2009

  4. Whatever happened to doing your job in a normal way without being weird? In my office of ten people, seven of them have issues or their way of doing things that gets on other people’s nerves. Thank Goodness for the three who are normal people who get along and do their best without needing special treatment. These are good guidelines I can see I need to think about. Thanx!

    Comment by A. R. | November 28, 2009

  5. Tina says:
    Harley Hobby, I’ve commented on your nickname before–very cute! And a good comment. Rather than sending your boss the post, try talking to him about it.

    A.R.: At first I thought you had a challenging office—until I started remembering workplaces I know, and I guess your numbers are about normal! Maybe you can help that. T.

    Comment by TLR | November 28, 2009

  6. Hi Tina! Good information. This fits with the class on challenging employees.

    Comment by B.L. | November 30, 2009

  7. Seems like everyone has some of this type of employee. I have also heard the “ignore them” comment from supervisors. Or better yet, “they will be retiring soon”, so why bother? for the sake of those that stay, that’s why you bother! Good advice as always.

    Comment by Michael | November 30, 2009

  8. I just commented on your post about who gets the credit, after reading your comment on BNET. This article is another excellent one. Your work needs to be heard in a wider circle. Please consider joining NCDA!

    Comment by Sandra D. | March 19, 2010

Leave a comment