My coach talks to me a lot about energy-sucking vampires. Having always been a company that is family owned and people focused, most of us in management have always tended to aim to have a sympathetic ear to staff problems and generally try and be very supportive of them. Probably being somewhat individual ourselves, we also tend to employ fairly individual people – I, particularly, have a weakness for trying to sort out “the problem child”. When this policy works, it produces a happy, involved motivated group of people. It is an incredibly fine line, however, between supporting staff and being taken for a sucker. I finally faced up to this truth at the start of this year when I could see that it had become a cycle of me trying to do the best for everyone and them taking more and more – it had got so out of hand that I was resented for ever saying no (this could have been anything from a company loan, time off, additional holidays…). Gradually, I parted company with employees with that attitude and learned to step back behind my Second-in-Command who is a bit tougher! A few of these vampires still linger though. They are uniquely exhausting; draining you of all energy as you whisk round doing their work, while listening to their problems and having them complain both to you and about you. Have been horrified to watch one of my best line managers grow paler and paler as a particularly unpleasant group, headed by one known within the staff for his wit – but within management for his inability to take any form of personal responsibility. Will be stopped come Monday!