How to upset an insecure employee?

Are you a Manager or Boss, who frequently has one employee turning up to ask for support and help? Do they always seem to be there wanting attention and there is no time for others? You always see the person as very needy?


I bet you want to shout at them….” Go away, leave me in peace” Or maybe you think ignoring them is the best answer? Either way, you are not giving them the time as they are a waste of space!


Stop, right there! Do you know and understand what is causing their behaviour? Do you even care? Well if you don’t, consider this for a moment! It will be affecting the whole team. Leaving these sorts of issues unattended creates tension on the team, possibly a view of favouritism or alternatively could lead to the employee feeling bullied or discriminated against. It also creates a drop-in productivity, not just from the person but also the team. Importantly as well, it creates a reduction in morale and engagement across the team.
Do you really want to upset the person? Wouldn’t it be better to resolve the issues?

Here are tips to help start resolving the insecurity of the person:


1. Hold a 1-2-1 with the person and actually work out what is making them tick? What is the root cause of the behaviour? Ask open-ended questions and establish what they think is going well and what they feel isn’t. Give them an opportunity to open up by gently probing. Use silence to give them time to form their responses.

One Manager I managed was very needy but they had a lack of confidence in their abilities. They just needed regular catch ups. We also would regularly talk about the strengths they had as well as discussing actions needed to let them explore in a safe environment what they could do.

I can remember just wanting reassurance that what I was doing was right when I started off. I’ve seen other employees be needy because in the past they’ve had managers who micro-managed.

It can also be because as a Manager you are actually ignoring the persona and not giving them any time, including acknowledging their personal circumstances. Without the discussions how will you find out?

2. The way you present yourself – In your conversations with your employees, remember to use the right tone and body language so you don’t sound unapproachable. And ask them how you could support them better.

Listen to what they are telling you. If you think there are specific examples you need to share then make sure they don’t sound dismissive or accusatory. Explain how you want to support them and what actions could you come up with together.

3. Recognition – Praise work to build confidence and help them feel acknowledged as a person. Be specific in your feedback – “when you did this ****, the result was and the team felt happy and the customer was pleased” From specifics we can grow and learn and isn’t it lovely when someone says to you made the team shine because of the work you did on this project and the outcomes we achieved.

4. Partner the insecure person with another team member – Look at strengths across the team and pair people together who can compliment each other and support each other. This will help the insecure person feel better about themselves as they share their skill sets and in turn, lets them develop new ones.

Consider asking the needy /insecure employee to coach another colleague having clearly identified their strengths. It could be something like coaching an employee on how to organise an event or pull a presentation together but whatever it is it will make them feel more confident.

Whatever you do with the person, do

• keep communications open with regular 1-2-1 catch ups
• not show your irritation with the person
• regularly acknowledge strengths and successes
• create a culture of being open, approachable and trustworthy
• be clear on the needs of the team and customer and the expectations
• look at what you’re doing as a Manager and reflect – do you actually need to change?

Hope this helps. Let me know if you have any tips that have worked for you when dealing with an insecure person?

About me:
Struggling with team or Management issues in your workplace. Perhaps you have team relationship dynamics that aren’t working, behaviours that simply aren’t acceptable or an underperforming team or Manager, then I can come in and identify what the real issues are and draw up an action plan to help improve the performance and situation.

I use over 30 years of management and strategic leadership to give you the practical tips you need to make your life easier.

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