How To Deal With Needy Employees

Robin Schwartz

How To Deal With Needy Employees

Managers would prefer to give all employees the same amount of attention, but some require more than others. These employees ask you to review their work before submitting it. They ask you a dozen questions throughout the day. While they may come across as too “needy”, it’s important to manage the situation and your frustrations.

Clarify Expectations

Managers and employees should have clear conversations about the expectations of the position and the role. Many positions require independent decision-making. This means the ability for a person to solve problems on their own.

If an employee isn’t able to get through a work day without a lot of help, they will become more of a burden than a resource. Employees need to realize that their performance may be judged against their ability (or inability) to complete their work without regular assistance.

Employees who constantly come to you with issues should be coached to look for solutions. Make it clear that when they approach you, they should explain the problem and provide possible fixes. This will push the employee to stop relying on you for support as often.

Provide Resources

When employees are hired, you have to give them the information they will need to do their job.

As much as managers like someone who can “hit the ground running”, you can’t expect employees to know everything. New employees may find it difficult to learn a new role without the right resources. Knowing who to reach out to for assistance will prevent the employee from only seeking his/her manager.

Employees may appear “needy” to management because they don’t know who else to turn to. Provide them with the names and contact information for the HR rep, the office manager and other team members. Don’t make them guess who can answer their questions.

Set Boundaries

Managers should be clear about boundaries with their employees. While many managers like to say they have an “open door” policy, that’s not always possible.

If physically shutting an office door means you are not available, be clear about that. If keeping your door shut doesn’t prevent interruptions, put up a “do not disturb” sign. Your employees should know when you are and are not available to them.

Don’t provide your cell phone number to employees if you don’t want to be contacted at all hours. Unless your company pays for your cell phone, keep it a personal device.

Employees need to expect that you are only available during certain days and hours.

Be Less Available

If setting boundaries doesn’t seem to be working for a needy employee, go a step further. Managers can practice being less available while still being supportive.

If an employee comes in to your office right before a meeting, you can say “I only have a few minutes before I jump on a call”. You may even want to ask them how urgent the issue is in case you can discuss it later.

You have to make sure your work gets done as well. If you are constantly being interrupted by an employee, telling them that you are working on your own deadline.

Ask the employee if they can email you or wait until your next one-on-one meeting. Showing your employee that you aren’t always available to take questions may encourage them to seek you out less often.

Offer Training

It isn’t fair to expect employees to be able to work independently if they don’t have the right training. Before a new employee starts in a role, the manager should be working with other team members to develop the right training plan.

Employees will have a lot of questions when starting in a new role.

Take the time to show them how to do the job they are expected to do. While it might be time consuming to invest in hands-on training, it will save you time later.

If your issue is a veteran employee who seems to need your help too often, discuss possible professional training courses . This might encourage them to be a more independent worker.

Find The Source

Talk to the employee directly about what their concerns are. Maybe they lack self-confidence and want your stamp of approval. The employee may be nervous about doing something wrong because of a bad experience with a previous manager.

Take the time to assure the employee that he/she is encouraged to try new things, and if they don’t work, they are encouraged to try again.

Many employees feel like they don’t have enough face-time with their managers and will look for it any time they can. In this case, be sure to carve out a few minutes at the beginning and end of a workday to check on them.

Once you start asking why, be sure to listen to the feedback the employee gives you.

Whatever the cause, needy employees can be frustrating for managers to deal with.

Managers cannot ignore these employees – it will only get worse.

Instead, be proactive and find out what your employees need and how you can help them work independently toward their goals.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz has nearly a decade of experience providing HR expertise to employees and management in higher education. Her broad experience includes benefits, compensation, performance management, employee relations, payroll, talent acquisition and management. She received her masters degree from American Military University and maintains a PHR certification.

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