What to do with a squeaky wheel? Passive-aggressiveness.
Managers sooner or later encounter employees who frequently use the conjunction “but” in their work – “I will do it, but… I would really like to, but…” They consistently postpone what needs to be done and work slower than necessary. On the other hand, they are convinced that they perform better than others and are surprised when they receive negative feedback. Passive-aggressive employees thwart every idea and display negativity towards the organization’s future. They regularly “forget” tasks they are supposed to complete, avoiding them in the process. They constantly complain, are irritable, and overwhelmed with responsibilities, feeling like victims of the organization’s unreasonable expectations.
Managing a passive-aggressive person poses a significant challenge for a manager. It is enough for the manager to learn to set healthy boundaries – to understand and acknowledge dissatisfaction while refusing to engage in conversations where the same things are endlessly repeated. The manager can state that everyone complains at times, and there is a proper way and time for it, with the expectation of a constructive idea on how to improve the situation. If an employee has time for continuous “grumbling,” they have time to take action.
Beyond individuals, entire organizations or certain segments of them can be passive-aggressive. In such cases, everyone agrees with the change the manager proposes, but implementation is lacking. The famous phrase is, “this too shall pass, we’ve seen enough of it.” The person managing such an organization sometimes feels overwhelmed by anger. Employees may appear calm, but they transfer their unconscious anger onto the manager and the environment.
Passive-aggression, whether in individuals or organizations, negatively impacts all aspects of business. Engaging a professional mental health consultant in organizations can be helpful – employees gradually become aware of their destructive and hidden anger. Trying to lubricate the squeaky wheel is worth it, but sometimes it’s a good decision to simply replace the wheel.