By a show of hands, who has seen the How I Met Your Motherepisode where Ted dates someone they refer to as "Oh honey"? I like to call her and those like her "Bambi". This woman believes absolutely everything that people tell her, she never assumes the worst and sarcasm completely escapes her. She makes The Little Mermaid's Arielle seem like a world-weary cynic. Bambi is the epitome of the word naive.
It seems sweet to think about a person who believes intrinsically and trusts completely. Its sweet until you need them to operate in the real world. People like Bambi belong in fairytales. Its the only place where they aren't chewed up and spit out by society. They do not belong in a business, specifically not one where I'm working. Because Bambi is so kind and so helpless and so intensely frustrating.
Most people assume that Bambi has to be female. That's completely false. Blissful ignorance is not a female attribute. For men, they're just normally seen as idiotic, instead of endearing. Maybe I've been hardened by life, all-women's colleges can be tough. Maybe I've lost all my sympathy and compassion. I know that I should want to protect the Bambis of the world. But all I want to do is kick them out on their butt and tell them to grow up a little. You can't walk through life in a fog of pretty flowers and bubblegum. At least not without stepping in some s--- along the way. And ya know what Bambi, no one is going to clean your shoes for you. Really, the only upside I see to extreme naiveté is that they aren't competition for a promotion and they often bring in treats for the entire office.
How should you deal with a co-worker who truly believes that the client who hasn't paid their bills in six months put a check in the mail last week and it must have gotten lost?
- Patience, patience, patience. Bambi is a timid creature. If you start to get too demanding, they could completely shut down to avoid confrontation. You have to control the eye-rolling and remove that sharpness from your voice. Give them time to adjust to the situation.
- Stay positive. Do you remember that kid in t-ball who just cried every time the coach yelled at him? You're dealing with that kid. Negativity will get you no where. So try to look at the bright side and communicate things in an optimistic manner.
- Explain your reasoning. If you present your needs in a way that Bambi understands, they are more likely to want to help you. Talk about why you guys need to finish the project this week or how their actions are effecting you.
And how do you manage an employee who might actually cry every time you give them a critique?
- Lay out the consequences up front. Bambi needs clear cut directions and consequences. They need to know that they could lose an account if they don't complete something on time. As a manager, you have to prepare them for the worst, because Bambi is incapable of doing it themselves.
- Control the bleeding heart. It's hard to dislike a Bambi. They're sweet and kind. They smile a lot. So many times, as a manager, you want to protect this employee from the cruel facts of life. But you can't and that's not your job. You can give them the tools that they need to succeed.