Employee management

Red Alert or False Alarm? Handling Alarmist Personalities

October 12, 2017

At one time or another, most workplaces have had someone who pushes the panic button at the first sign of smoke. You probably know the type. They’re the person who comes to your office wanting you to drop everything for a non-urgent situation they’ve rated an 11 out of 10. They’re the doomsayer in the meeting harping on the negatives or taking up time unnecessarily imagining worst-case scenarios that are unlikely, but could happen. Many times, the workplace alarmist is someone quick to overreact, panic over trivial matters, or distract their colleagues with a non-crisis that they label a “Code Red.”

Once the alarm has been sounded, HR professionals and management typically have to rein in the unnecessary conflict or panic. And frequently, it’s up to managers or HR to intervene when an alarmist misuses resources or violates protocol in their search for immediate answers or assistance. Since alarmist behaviours can negatively affect workplaces in a variety of ways, including reducing productivity and morale, it is necessary to mitigate the consequences of such behaviour. As with other behaviours in the workplace that could become toxic if left unaddressed, it’s important to attend to alarmist behaviour as soon as it appears on your radar.

However, it can be difficult to determine the best way to handle alarmists, primarily because the motives that lead someone to raise false alarms can vary. Those cases of employees who intentionally undermine protocol, cry wolf, or act up because of a desire for attention or praise may easily come to mind. However, not everyone who displays alarmist behaviours intends to cause trouble. Sometimes, these innocent employees are the most difficult to manage, because their unconscious personality causes them to overdramatize non-urgent situations or become so excitable they overstep protocol.

If you’ve ever had an employee whose personality makes them prone to panic or melodrama, you know how difficult it can be to respond patiently and fairly while correcting the unwanted behaviour.

Download our FREE Handling Alarmist Personalities Guide to learn how to appropriately handle the employee who means well but violates protocol or misuses resources because of their tendency to overreact.

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