Nov. 18, 2020

How to work with difficult people with Kris Plachy

How to work with difficult people with Kris Plachy

“The premise behind working with difficult people is that nobody is difficult until you label them difficult. So the word ‘difficult’ is not a fact, it is a label.” - Kris Plachy

When leading a team, or working as part of one, not all people will be the same. It takes awareness and skill to recognize each individual’s personality traits, and to work as effectively and efficiently with that person. That’s why in today’s Brave By Design we are talking to an Entrepreneurial Management guru who helps leaders lead a successful well-rounded team, and the advice she shares here today can prove invaluable to any member of an organization. 

Kris Plachy is THE thought leader and expert for Entrepreneurial Management. Known for her simple, honest and authentic style, Kris has poured her life’s work into learning about, understanding and then guiding leaders through the tricky path of learning how to lead a team. In a space where there is a lot of “noise” and advice, Kris has designed the “how to” of team & CEO leadership through her unparalleled How to CEO for Female Entrepreneurs course and coaching integration program. 

Kris provides actionable strategy combined with insights from her years of experience in leading others, and I’m sure all listeners will enjoy, and learn from what she has to share in this episode. 

Connect with Kris: https://krisplachy.com/

Connect with Laura Khalil online:

instagram.com/iambravebydesign

linkedIn.com/in/LauraKhalil

Learn the five habits that help women rise:

http://bravebydesign.net/fivehabits 

Invite Laura to speak at your live or virtual event http://bravebydesign.net

What You’ll Hear In This Episode: 

  • How Kris became an expert in this field and the extensive hands on experience she has working with difficult people [1:58]
     
  • Specific challenges that women face in a male-dominated workplace [5:12]

  • A powerful reframe you can make to realize that “difficult” is only a label we attach to other people [8:30]

  • The viral post blog post Kris wrote that affirmed people are needing more knowledge on how to work with difficult people, and how this led to her writing a book on the topic [10:05]

  • Some of the most important things to acknowledge when one is moving into a leadership role that can help improve the relationships with others in the organization [17:25]
     
  • Five core things to focus on in order to help you have the firing conversation, if needed [19:46]

Additional Links & Resources:

Kris’s Do You Know How to CEO? Quiz & Course, How to CEO for Female Entrepreneurs 

Her Podcast 

Kris’ LinkedIn Article, Five Truths for Dealing with Difficult People & Book (of the same name)


Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/bravebydesign)

Transcript
Kris Plachy:

The premise behind working with difficult people is, first of all, nobody is difficult until you label them difficult. So the word difficult is not a fact, unreasonable.

Laura Khalil:

Welcome to brave by design. I'm your host, Laura Khalil. I'm an entrepreneur, coach and speaker. I love thinking bait, exploring the power of personal development and sharing the best strategies from thought leaders and pioneers in business to empower ambitious women and allies to bravely rise and thrive. Let's get started. Everyone, welcome to this episode of brave by design. I am so excited for you to meet today's guest. Chris Blackie is the thought leader and expert for entrepreneurial management. known for her simple, honest and authentic style, Chris has poured our life's work into learning about understanding and then guiding leaders through the tricky path of learning how to lead a team. In a space where there is a lot of noise and advice, Chris has designed the How to have team leadership through her five step management system. After 25 years of leading managing and coaching leaders, Chris has a unique ability to quickly assess challenges and apply immediate simple solutions. In fact, she knows without a doubt that there is no challenge you're facing as a leader that she can't help you solve,

Unknown:

Chris.

Laura Khalil:

Oh my god, I

Kris Plachy:

love it. It's the big promise.

Laura Khalil:

Okay, so when I read that, first of all, welcome to the show, I you, our audience is really obsessed with the idea of being a great leader and what that means. And I just want to start by asking you, how did you actually become such an expert in this field?

Unknown:

Well,

Kris Plachy:

I started my career like everybody does, and had a job. I actually had a really great boss, my first job job. And then I got promoted, I took a management position and a terrible boss.

Laura Khalil:

So you had the benefit of starting with someone Great. So you knew what good look like

Kris Plachy:

I knew what it looked like to work for someone like him like he was he was jovial and friendly and honest, and, you know, never took anything too seriously. And I was always very stressed, I was kind of used to, I just always do a good job, big people pleaser. And then when I got promoted, I worked in a real startup culture. So we didn't have a lot of support. When it came to getting promoted. There was one week of training and it was offered once a year, Oh, my gosh, you got promoted, and the trading wasn't for 10 months. You weren't getting

Unknown:

Wow.

Kris Plachy:

So I worked for someone else at that point. And she was very difficult to work for, and really sort of the antithesis of what you think of when you think of a strong leader and strong manager, even she, she was punitive and inconsistent. And, you know, in some ways emotionally abusive. Hey, Kevin never knew who you were going to get

Laura Khalil:

kind of person. Yeah, I think everyone's met someone like that, or maybe been that person.

Kris Plachy:

Yeah, I, you know, I coach entrepreneurs, and when you don't have a lot of direction, right? You know, being a manager is such a emotional, potentially really emotional job, because why is that most people who become managers care, right? Like they get promoted, and they want to extend whatever it is that they know, and they want to really continue to deliver. But what happens when you become a manager is you have more responsibility, but you don't generally have more authority, especially if you're in like a middle management position. And so, now you're accountable and responsible for all these people's performance, but you

Unknown:

can't make them do it.

Kris Plachy:

Um, so when you're like, when you don't understand your own emotional immaturity, which is what how most of us, you then have these very on managed reactions to people. And that is very damaging to a relationship that you would have with your employees if you don't understand yourself. So that's always really been my premise is okay, if I want to be good at leading people, I have to understand me.

Laura Khalil:

Gosh, that's so interesting, because when you talk about taking, let's say, a management leadership course, or you're an entrepreneur who's looking to go hire your first team or something like that, the first thing I think most of us think like what's the blocking and tackling this It needs to happen. But what I hear you saying is, yeah, maybe that's important. Sure. But this is first and foremost an inside job where you have to work on yourself. Yeah. So yet tell us a little bit more about that for people who, let's say, you know, women in male dominated fields, that's a lot of what we have a lot of listeners on our show, are women who are in male dominated fields, they may be entrepreneurs, or they may be emerging leaders. What are some of the specific challenges that those types of women are facing? And how can we begin to give them tools to address what they're up against?

Kris Plachy:

Yeah, that's, that's a great question. So I have a lot of answers.

Laura Khalil:

Just pick one Chris, we can dive into all

Unknown:

over us. So

Kris Plachy:

here's first of all my thoughts. So you have to decide this to the women listening. What you want for yourself? No one's gonna give it to you. Right now. I think we know that logically. But I think that some of us tend to forget. Yeah. And so the first thing you have to understand about yourself is what are you trying to accomplish in your career? Who do you want to be? What are you growing into? We all face natural. There's just natural challenges, behavior, attitudes, relationships, style, like we just naturally are going to bump into what we would call difficult people. Of course, you're somebody who's difficult person. Also,

Laura Khalil:

I hope people heard that. Because we're all difficult to someone, someone. Yeah.

Kris Plachy:

And no one's difficult until you believe that they are. That's the other thing. It's like, as soon as I've labeled you as difficult now I interact with you differently. Ah, gosh, you know, so what I always can tell when people are struggling. And so when whether it's a woman in a male dominated industry, or a woman in a female dominated industry, which can be have its own set of challenges, challenges. It's because you're not clear about what you want to achieve. And you're allowing your current circumstance to infiltrate your brain so that you're not clear. You're getting distracted by this guy named Rob. Difficult, right? Or this promotion you didn't get because you think that someone else got it for different, like, whatever that is that I just think it's a distraction.

Laura Khalil:

So like, you're not keeping your eye on the

Kris Plachy:

prize? Yeah, you got to get clear about what you want. And you have to believe no matter what, I'm gonna make it happen. And if it's not here somewhere else. That's right. One of the things that people say to me was, I used to coach a lot of internal corporate leaders before I had my focus on entrepreneurs. And a lot of people would say, Well, I should have gotten that promotion. But you know, so and so got it. And like, why are you still there?

Laura Khalil:

That's right.

Unknown:

What are you doing there?

Kris Plachy:

What are you going to create? What do you want? Okay, yeah,

Unknown:

does it?

Kris Plachy:

Is that a big drag? For sure. But was it your decision?

Laura Khalil:

You know, Chris, that's so that's ultimately the most empowering type of response, because either you can become a victim of the circumstances or master of your destiny. And where do you want to go? Yeah. And would you want to take the bull by the horns? And as you said, Keep your eye on that vision? Do you have that vision? But I want to circle back to something really interesting, because we actually have not discussed this before. And that's difficult people. So you said we're all difficult to someone. And I know there are people listening right now who are saying to themselves, if I have to interact with Joe Blow one more time, if he gives me that attitude, blah, blah, blah, if he doesn't respond to my email, Chris, what the heck do we do?

Kris Plachy:

Oh, my gosh, so now you're really in my lane. You didn't even know it? I didn't. Oh, I have written books about how to deal with difficult people.

Laura Khalil:

Oh, mg.

Kris Plachy:

I spent three years of my life only doing workshops in businesses on how to work with and how to coach. difficult people. Really. And yeah, and I used to also coach, the difficult executive. Oh, boy, he to coach Joe Blow. So, okay, wow, Chris. Oh,

Laura Khalil:

I feel like we're about to open a treasure chest of wisdom here are

Kris Plachy:

I'm gonna tell you what, I've been talking about it for a while. So I'm all in. It's one of my favorite things to talk about.

Laura Khalil:

Really. Okay. So what do we how do we even approach this whole topic?

Kris Plachy:

Oh, okay. So first of all, I have to tell you what happened. This was like five years ago, I wrote. Do you remember when LinkedIn decided To let people write articles, and I'm really dating myself, so they sent me an invitation and said, Hey, write an article. The

Laura Khalil:

Chris is a big deal.

Kris Plachy:

Right? That's kind of a big deal, Chris. Okay, well, so I'm not even kidding you. I sat with my desktop with the LinkedIn app open. I wasn't even I didn't even write it in a Word doc. First. I just wrote this rk five truths for thinking about difficult people, because it's what I was always coaching people on. And by that was like, let's say, I hit click to post it like Wednesday afternoon by like nine or 10. That night, it had like 37,000 views. Oh, my gosh, I was like, Oh, so then I turned that article into a book.

Unknown:

No kidding.

Kris Plachy:

Yeah. And so so what the premise behind working with difficult people is, first of all, nobody is difficult until you label them difficult. So the word difficult is not a fact. Just like rude, arrogant, dismissive, and titled, negative, those are labels that we assign to observable behavior.

Laura Khalil:

So we're creating the judgment. It's all it is, is a judgment.

Kris Plachy:

Okay, a label is a judgment based on like, if I sat with my arms crossed in a meeting, and gave you like, an eye roll. You might describe me as insubordinate or rude. Now, if you asked me, Why were you rude? In the meeting? I'm not gonna say, Oh, I was rude because I don't think I'm rude.

Unknown:

Right?

Kris Plachy:

I think you're an idiot, because you weren't listening to me. Right? So I'm sitting there with my face and my arms crossed. And you are thinking it's my fault. That way. I'm responding. And of course, I'm like, No, you understand? you interrupted me. Right? Right. And so as soon as I lead with a label, I have lost the discussion. Wow.

Unknown:

Right. Okay,

Kris Plachy:

better thing is for me, especially if you're a manager, because managers really lose it here. This is where we really get into trouble. What I always suggest if you're a manager, you have an employee who's really making units, you need to make a T chart. And on the left hand side of that T chart, we're going to put label, we're going to write, boy, all the things you would call that person. All the things I said in more right? dishonest, rude, submissive, entitled, mean, negative victim,

Unknown:

you name it,

Kris Plachy:

I used to do this for the workshop, and I would feel to flip chart pieces of paper with what people would call their place.

Laura Khalil:

Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh. So okay, so you fill it up.

Kris Plachy:

Then all that's the left side. That's the left side. Then on the right side, we read the first one. So we say, okay, rude. So, we're what to you could someone do in the world that everyone would see? That would make you think they are rude?

Laura Khalil:

Okay, I'm just spitballing. Here. I'm going to say, slam a door in someone's face.

Kris Plachy:

Okay, slam a door in someone's face. Right? You would call that rude? Yeah. Someone else might call it.

Laura Khalil:

They didn't know. An accident. Yeah. And they no idea what they were doing.

Kris Plachy:

I didn't realize it was slammed so hard. Right. Someone else could call it aggressive.

Laura Khalil:

Right? Yeah,

Kris Plachy:

we don't know. So what's better is we do that first. First, we have to say, Okay, these are all the labels. I want to call this person. But let's actually look at what the behavior is. Yeah. One of my core tenants of teaching managers how to lead is that performance is not an opinion. So my, my assessment of your performance is not that label. Performance should always be based in facts and even behaviors. I love this. Oh, I instead would say, hey, Laura, today, you slammed the door. I was standing right outside. What was going on? Right, I bet you label your own behavior. I just share the fact.

Laura Khalil:

Chris, you don't know this. But what I love about what you're sharing is I give I have a whole class on how to have hard conversations. And the first thing we do in that class is say state the facts. I am not interested in late we don't I don't use the word labels but just what happened. Yeah, yeah, what actually happened state the facts. The door closed and it actually kind of hit me in the nose. Oh, wow. Cheese.

Kris Plachy:

Did I meant to slam that door? Because you were being so disrespectful? Like, we don't know what they'll say, right? But I don't want to make that assumption on their behalf. It doesn't help me. Right. And I really do know that most people I don't I think there are a couple, but really not a lot. Most people do not wake up in the morning and think I cannot wait to be difficult today. They wake up, and they think I'm going to go be me. So the a lot of the people that I've coached that are difficult, right, when you talk to them about it. It's just passionate. Yeah, people think I'm aggressive. And I'm like, okay, but when you're busy being passionate, are you interrupting people? Right? Or I'm so impatient. They're really impatient, right? People don't listen to them. But when you're busy being impatient, and you're cutting people off, how can they listen to you? So it's helping people see, because I do believe that people have behaviors that over time, if repeated, can become barriers to successful working relationships.

Laura Khalil:

Yeah.

Kris Plachy:

The most disheartening thing to me is that people don't tell people that they're difficult. Exactly.

Laura Khalil:

They don't give anyone an experience of what it's like to be around you.

Kris Plachy:

Yeah. And coach them. Like I said, I really, in the majority of the people I have coached, they were not malicious. I mean, one guy fired him.

Unknown:

Wow,

Kris Plachy:

he wasn't interested, I think he has a sociopath, you have no empathy. Right? But like most people, they just, they're just absent. That's why that awareness is, is so critical. And one guy specifically, I can remember he was a top sales guy, or that really shows up right, these high high performers. And it worked for him. And so he had a lot of fear with me, he was very vulnerable one day, and he said, I'm afraid that if I stop, lose my edge, I won't be successful, right? And I said, Okay, all we're going to learn the edge gets to stay. All we're going to learn is when do you put a little velvet around that edge?

Laura Khalil:

Oh, I love that, Chris,

Kris Plachy:

then you can get more done. Yeah, make people with you, you'll actually be more successful.

Laura Khalil:

You know, I love that. Because one of the things I often talk about is, people don't do behavior that they don't think serves them. We're all acting in ways which we think serve our goals. And so getting that awareness that yes, you can be a high performer. And you can have a team support you in the process. Right? To your point, if you just wrapped a little velvet around that rough edge there or that edge that you got a notice that you even have the edge. Right. I love that. Oh, my gosh, I love that. All right. So Chris, for people who are getting into management, getting into leadership, what are some of the most I know that you have your own system and methodology? What are some of the most important things that they can start thinking about?

Kris Plachy:

Okay, so I think if we're gonna build off of what we just said, let's just be clear, there will always be a difficult person, on the team, in your peer group, somewhere. So if you're getting ready to be in a leadership role, the belief that they shouldn't exist, will drive you crazy. Or like, oh, there's one. Now I have to figure out how to negotiate this relationship and give feedback in a way that's constructive. And if their behavior really starts to compromise their performance, then I'll have to address it as a privacy issue. So I always just, you know, it's like a lot of my clients to they, there's this belief that somehow once I've hired someone, I shouldn't have to hire anybody else. No, this is the jam. Yeah. When you get into leadership and managing, you're always going to be having to hire someone, you know. And there will be people who quit and you'll be really bummed. But that's the job. It's not like there's not this end sum game like, Okay, good. Everybody's hired, everybody's performing. Everybody's perfect. And

Laura Khalil:

they're just gonna go do it.

Kris Plachy:

And then we don't have to think about it ever again.

Laura Khalil:

No. Yep. I also want to ask you because what you're talking about, sort of, we're talking around an issue actually, which maybe we can touch on briefly, which is firing people. Yeah. Because if you're always having to, if you're always thinking about hiring, if that's always something that's going to be On your mind, it's not going to be one and done. There will be a time when you have to have a really hard conversation where it's not working out. And I think that there's been so much data and research around managers being afraid to talk to their employees or leaders being afraid to actually say, this is what's going on. And I have been on the receiving end of that, when I worked in the full time world, and it crushed me, because I thought, Oh, my gosh, I have no, like, I didn't know this was even happening. So what is the advice for managers who may be or for entrepreneurs who are thinking, Oh, my gosh, I don't think this is working out. I may have to let someone go, how do we do that in a way that's empathetic? That's caring? And that maybe doesn't leave people blindsided?

Kris Plachy:

Yeah. So you asked, like, what are the things people need to know? And I think these are the core five things that help you be able to fire. And the first one is, you have to be able to know like, what's the purpose, if you're an entrepreneur, you have to have a clear vision. And I know people kind of roll their eyes at when I say that, but vision is ultimately what congeals the right people into your business, especially if it's a small operation, and it's service driven or purpose driven. You've got to get really clear,

Laura Khalil:

Chris, wait, I just want to stop there. Why are people rolling their eyes at that? Because that, to me seems like so obvious. But you get some resistance to that. Yeah, I

Kris Plachy:

think it's overdone. I think if you you know, if you worked in a company, vision and mission is something on somebody's wall somewhere. Actually, like, meaningful, nobody knows it. Nobody. It's just like, Oh, yeah, the executive team went into a retreat and came up with the vision, right? It's and it's

Laura Khalil:

on the cafeteria or lounge, you know, break room wall, I'll

Kris Plachy:

be right, not really meaningful. And so I teach my clients to have one sentence vision, it's very compelling. My vision is to prove the power of one thriving woman. Right. So that is dealing like, it's what we always talk about it in our literature, like, it's, everybody in my business knows what my vision is. And I think it's essential to building the dream team,

Laura Khalil:

and you're making decisions based on Am I following the vision? Or am I off track or whatever? Absolutely.

Kris Plachy:

Yeah, absolutely. The second thing is you have to know what your values are. So I call this kind of your leadership operating system like, and we use values, I teach values as those mechanisms for how you hire and fire. So this is sort of looking at, like the best person you've ever had on the team and the worst, and why? Because ultimately, the majority of the reason we let people go, not always, but the majority is because of behavior. And that is value based. Not skill. Really. Yeah. How interesting. The issues are related not to what people need to do, but how they do it. guidelines, errors, lapses in judgment, behavior, attitudes, those tend to be the reasons that people, not always, sometimes it's just, you know, this was an accounting job. And I hired a marketing person. And it's right, you'll set guy too large there, but they're a value fit, which can really make it complicated, because then we're like, oh, but is there somewhere else we could put them? Right, exactly. Such a great fit. And that doesn't often work. But that's another story. And we have to have really clear expectations for how people show up every day. We have to have role clarity, which means everybody knows what. And it's clearly defined goals, and key performance indicators that measure progress. And those measures are part of a integral process, which is your follow up and your follow through your feedback.

Laura Khalil:

Chris, how often do you recommend that leaders meet with their employees? If they have a small team? Do you like one on ones do you like weekly? What do you prefer?

Kris Plachy:

I recommend hands on the cadence. Your Business always done weeklies because my business every business I've ever worked in, things move fast. So two weeks apart. There's too many gaps in things that we want to address. But I do know some businesses that have like, much longer scope work and so maybe once a month is fine. But regardless, like I was just coaching a woman this morning in my program, and she said you know the vibe of our company has been lost since COVID. And

Laura Khalil:

Gosh, and so

Kris Plachy:

she has set up right now where they all are in the office, but because there's an employee who is expecting and doesn't want to be around people. They're not doing any stand up meetings stand up in person team stuff. So they're doing it all on zoom. Okay. And we were talking about how that's really killing the environment. And I'm like, Yeah, but you have an opportunity here to redefine your environment like you. You don't have to believe that that's the case. Right? And so I asked her, I said, Are you doing you want to meet with everybody? Are you doing one on ones? And she said, not really. They said, right. So you're telling me that there's a lack of connection, but you aren't connecting? So yeah, I think a lot of people think, Well, my team doesn't need a one on one. They know what they're doing. They're really great. They're the ones who need it the most.

Laura Khalil:

Absolutely. I totally agree. One of the things I've often recommended to people is don't keep pushing off the one on one. Yeah, it's really dangerous when you start to do that, because people need the support. Now, Chris, I could just talk to you for hours, you are so much fun. Do you have any final pieces of advice for the audience?

Kris Plachy:

Well, my perspective, of course, is that managing and leading people is the most fun ever, I think it's a tremendous honor, and responsibility.

Unknown:

But

Kris Plachy:

there is nothing like assembling a team of people to get work done. And when they're all on board, and they love it, that, to me, that is magic. And especially for entrepreneurs, who have a vision they want to put out into the world. Like for me, like I am astounded that there are these other women I work with, who are as engaged in what I'm doing as, as I am. And through their efforts, we are able to create so much more. I could never do on my own. And to me it is literally magic is happening. But there was a lot I had a lot of awful conversations and a lot of hard decisions and a lot of things you have to do to sort of earn that gift of that team. But I believe wholeheartedly, it's absolutely worth it. But you have to be kind of willing to, to go through it. And you've got to invest in yourself. You can't expect to just be good at managing people. It is a skill.

Laura Khalil:

Absolutely. It is a skill. Chris, how can people devour more information from you? Because I'm sure people are listening to this. And they're like, I need your help. Chris, where do I go? What do I do?

Kris Plachy:

So a couple things. I have a podcast called lead your team. So that's on any platform, you listen to your podcast, so be sure to check that out. You can find that on my website, which is Chris at Chris Blackie calm, which I know you said you're willing to hop the link and then we are doing a thing right now called that it's a CEO quiz. And so it's kind of helpful to see Are you a solopreneur entrepreneur and CEO of based on where you are what kind of leadership insight Do we have to share with you so if you just go to my CEO quiz calm, I love that is and it'll give you a little little support little tip sheet.

Laura Khalil:

I love that. Chris, thank you so much for joining us on brave by design.

Kris Plachy:

It's great conversation thing.

Laura Khalil:

I want to thank you for joining me and remember to subscribe to your favorite app so you can stay up to date. And I would love your review. If you've enjoyed this episode. Please leave a review and comment on Apple podcasts. You can also keep in touch with me online. You can find me on LinkedIn and I'm also on Instagram at force of badassery. All that information will be available in the show notes. Until next time, stay brave