RAB Research Archive

Do You Know That Guy?



The entire team was going through the new training. It was fun to see the light bulbs come on as they were exposed to new knowledge, or in some cases, reminded of important concepts they had forgotten. The sellers were engaged and excited – it was working. The sellers were getting better, their clients were getting better and we were having a blast being a part of it.

Then HE showed up. You know him, he's "That Guy." We all know him at work — he’s That Guy. That Guy finds a reason to object to anything that is said. No matter how inconsequential the matter, he can’t help but say, “yeah, but…” Here’s a typical script:

Normal Colleague: “I think the new guy is really getting up to speed quickly.”

That Guy: “Ok, but what do you mean by quickly?”

Normal Colleague: “He just seems to be doing a good job so far.”

That Guy: “But why shouldn’t he? He’s just doing the easy stuff now.”

Normal Colleague: “Fine. I’m just saying his work so far has been quite good.”

That Guy: “Yeah, but what does ‘quite good’ mean exactly’?”

Talking to That Guy is painful. The conversation never seems to move — it’s always stuck. In meetings, he’s worse: he objects to the most minor details in presentations, frustrating the presenter and everyone else. His net impact on the meeting is generally negative, and he makes it 15 minutes longer than it needs to be.

Neil Bearden is an Associate Professor of Decision Science at INSEAD, where he teaches and researches judgment. His article in Harvard Business Review helped put a label on ‘That Guy:’ Captious. To be captious is to raise petty objections.

One of the most gratifying consequences of working with sales teams to improve their performance is the change in the culture that occurs. One manager recently told us, "It's like somebody flipped a switch. Everybody is talking the same language; they are sharing experiences and everybody is performing better." Having everyone go through the same training, even remotely, allows for this synergy and comradery to develop.

Nothing is more motivating than achievement. Nothing kills a culture or motivation faster than a captious person. He criticizes everything. His attitude is so negative, he would complain if he won a multi-million-dollar lottery because he must pay too much in taxes. That Guy is a problem. He can suck the life and positive energy out of a team – if you let him.

When dealing with That Guy, you need to find a way to turn him onto what you are trying to accomplish … or turn him loose. The key is, don't waste time. It's not just the money you’re wasting on him, it's the negative impact he’s having on the rest of the team. The cliché is right, "one bad apple can spoil the bushel." You owe it to your team to protect them from rotten apples.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB





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