Some employees need more validation than their managers can give. When a direct report always wants you to say they did a good job, or is never convinced their work is good enough, it’s best to address the issue directly. Schedule a private meeting to talk to the employee — and be gentle, not harsh or dismissive. Show the person that you care about their well-being, and use concrete examples to explain how their behavior is affecting you, their work, or the team. Encourage the employee to think about why they seek so much reassurance and how to find healthier ways to meet their needs. For example, they might turn to friends outside the workplace or a mental health professional to talk through their emotions. And set boundaries for the future, being direct about what your limits are. Throughout the conversation and going forward, treat the person as if they are strong rather than fragile. Your goal is to give them the right amount of support — not to make them feel bad for wanting more.

This tip is adapted from “4 Ways to Manage an Emotionally Needy Employee,” by Ron Carucci

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