By: Shawna Laird-Brush, Business Manager
You know who I am talking about. That irritating employee who alienates their colleagues while consistently managing to find clever solutions to the pressing issues or problems that arise in the organization. The one who is high-performing (and likes to take all the credit) and STILL has the time to grate on every nerve you have.
Sound familiar? Every company, organization, or group has at least one of them that most managers handle badly. Many managers don’t want to “rock the boat” when projects are running smoothly, or vehicle downtime is below the goal threshold. This means that their response, when or if it finally comes, is often ineffective. They don’t understand or they underestimate the cost to the organization in terms of staff morale or retention.
So, how do you manage that talented blockhead?
The trick is being able to tap into that brilliance while minimizing the damage. You may not always have the option of getting rid of them, so let’s look at ways to retain and use that talent better.
Listen closely to what is going on
This doesn’t mean spy on your people, but listen to them when they talk about difficulties they may have with certain individual. If you hear from more than one employee about the same person, it’s time to pay attention and plan out your strategy.
Begin the intervention early
If you are listening, you may be able to start working with the “problem child” early. This could mean pairing them with a counselor or peer that can help them relate to their colleagues and begin to share the values of the organization.
You can provide an opportunity for attitude improvement. Try reviewing this employee’s interpersonal skills more often and tell them that their needs to be consistent improvement. Let them know they are a valuable member of the team and do great work, but this particular area needs to be focused on.
You can also begin a peer assessment to coincide with employee reviews. I was once at a company where the president of the company had each employee review the interpersonal skills of their team or department colleagues. All responses were anonymous. The results were then compiled and given to us. Although sometimes hard to read, it did create awareness and you could see positive changes.
Reassign them or change their workload
Maybe the best way to keep the talent and make peace in the office is to reassign the employee to a position that doesn’t interact as frequently with colleagues or other departments. Try funneling their time and resources into big projects that don’t require extensive teamwork. Maybe they would be great at looking for trends in reams of data or creating training materials for best practices.
Change the reward system
Many organizations and companies have “Employee of the Month” rewards. While this is a great program for many, this could encourage the clever dolt to continue his ways in hopes of gaining that prize. Try a monthly reward for the team instead of rewarding one individual.
There are ways of salvaging the brilliant jerks and preserving the energy, ideas, and performance they can bring to an organization. How do you manage them? Let me know in the comments and I’ll update this article.