We all have probably used the term High Maintenance in reference to a friend, a sibling, a girlfriend/boyfriend…but what about leaders? What about yourself? I came across an interesting article in Forbes by Cheryl Conner that lays out 13 traits of high maintenance people…and I immediately thought of several General Officers, former bosses…and then I read the list again… yeah, I’ve got a few of those issues as well (I really try NOT to)… much to learn and work on still…but heck if we aren’t trying to get better… what in the heck are we doing? How about you? Any issues? Are you high maintenance?
The 13 Traits of High Maintenance People:
1 -They have urgent “needs.” To a high maintenance personality, everything is urgent. Every piece of email needs to be copied to someone in authority and every action needs to be passed by the boss before they proceed.
2 – They have a sense of entitlement. Everyone deserves to be treated with equal respect. The high maintenance individual will expect more. When this happens, there’s generally an unhealthy level of ego at play.
3 – They could be self-sufficient. But they’re not. The task could be as simple as looking up an email address, retrieving a file, or looking up a bit of needed information over the web. But this person feels more engaged and important by making continual requests for service from others, including the boss.
4 – They cling to stories of personal wrongs from the past. The high maintenance individual has a difficult time moving past real or imagined wrongs of the past. The faults of others become a script that plays over and over as justification for extra support, lower work expectations, or greater entitlements now.
5 – They talk. A lot. The high maintenance person thrives on attention. They have a continual need for others to serve as their sounding boards. While discussion and brainstorming is necessary and healthy, high maintenance people feel the need to use their co-workers as ad hoc life advisors and coaches; however they have little desire or motivation to actually hear and take the advice they receive. Mostly, they crave a listening ear
6 – They are seldom satisfied. High maintenance people will see the flaws in every situation. Even when they’ve been given extra care and attention, they will invariably find something wrong with the solution or service they’ve received, or will feel the need to ask for an additional “adjustment” in order to gratify their need to feel validated and served.
7 – They are high-strung. Not all high-strung people are high maintenance. But the person with excessive needs will be persistently vocal and anxious about the things they require. Again – it’s a dependency you shouldn’t encourage or feed.
8 – They live in a state of perpetual drama. If you are around a high maintenance person for an extended period of time, you will observe frequent periods of meltdown during the course of the day. Every small inconvenience or mistake becomes a crisis. They will learn to work the internal HR system heavily at every turn.
9 – They handle money poorly. Regardless of the economy or circumstance, high maintenance people are perpetually in debt. No matter their income, their living expenditures and needs are invariably more. They expend an exceptional amount of stress and energy dealing with past due accounts and the perpetual juggling act to use this month’s income to cover last month’s bills.
10 – They place a high importance on material status. The entitlement aspect of high maintenance people leads them to be keenly focused on the belongings or the status of others as well. This trait can infect the highest people in the organization, such as the CEO who demands that every company event include the provision of free upgrades and presidential suites at no additional cost. Ironically, the focus on material possessions and status is actually the sign of insecurity and of a low self-esteem.
11 – They are obsessed with details–theirs and yours. They are highly focused on the too-much-information and none-of-your-business particulars of your life and also of theirs.
12 – They seem “unsettled.” The high maintenance person is constantly ill at ease, buying, altering or discarding possessions and complaining about their work or living conditions. The details that are non-issues to others are insurmountable hurdles to them. Happiness perpetually evades them.
13 – They resent authority are often critical of others. It is extremely difficult for these individuals to respect authority or to see the bigger picture. Instead, they hold fast to their opinions of the support they need and the credit they should receive in order to fulfill their assignments. Passive aggressive behavior is paramount (undermining the boss by spreading unrest or ill will – often veiling the bad behavior in an aura of superiority or nobility).