Rise Performance Group

10 Tips to Deal with Divas in the Office

By Aoife Gorey

Have you ever experienced that co-worker whose attitude was just downright rude? The person who seems to think “I’m highly successful and I can be a jerk to whoever I please.”I’m sure we have all worked with one of these people at some stage in our careers.

Often, co-workers feel that they cannot do anything about these ‘diva employees’ for fear of being seen as a tattle-tale or unable to handle office politics. As a manager, it is your job to be observant of bad attitudes in the workplace and try to create a relaxing and productive atmosphere for all employees. Would you let a high-performing employee get away with bad behavior just because he or she is one of your top earners? I hope not!

Managers have struggled with this dilemma for decades and thankfully, in recent years,  have come to the realization that ignoring these diva employees can be detrimental to an entire department and organization.

Managing high performers with difficult personalities is one of the greatest managerial challenges that leaders face. Whether it is the rainmaker with the golden rolodex, the genius software engineer or the prickly neurosurgeon, sometimes we can’t live with these people but we can’t live without them. So, what can leaders do to bring out the best in these employees while minimizing the negative impact they have on their co-workers and the organizational climate?

Today’s workplaces are overrun with divas and jerks. Profiles research undertook the task of understanding the best ways to manage these difficult workers. The study, which involved over 700 participants, uncovered some interesting findings, which included:

  • More than half surveyed claimed 25 percent of high performers in their organization were difficult to work with
  • Sales and Operations were identified as the departments with the highest numbers of difficult high performers
  • 72 percent disagreed that it is okay for managers to give special treatment to difficult employees just because they are high performers
  • A shocking 49 percent of managers could not identify what makes a high performer successful
  • 68 percent of managers did not understand why difficult high performers behave the way they do
  • 78 percent of managers did not know how to manage these employees effectively

These issues do not go unnoticed. Managers are simply reluctant to do anything about them because the cost tends to exceed the benefits. 62 percent of participants agreed with this statement.

For all managers dealing with these jerks, prima donnas and hot heads, here are ten simple tips to help you manage difficult employees:

1. Have a one-on-one conversation with the employee in private

2. Consult with other managers and your boss

3. Provide the employee with outside training

4. Make yourself available to the employee for additional training

5. Be sure to outline clear guidelines of conduct for the employee

6. Have a discussion about the issue at a meeting with the employees involved

7. Schedule a formal employee review, even if one is not due

8. Request that the employee submit reports about how he or she is seeking to change his or her behavior

9. Put the employee on probation for the appropriate amount of time

10. For more serious problems, terminate the employee immediately, explain the cause and provide pay for any hours worked.

If the employee’s behavior goes too far, and they remain employed, it could seriously damage staff morale and productivity.

Do not be hesitant to let these people go just because they are high performers. One employee can negatively affect the remaining employees. The employees with positive attitudes are the backbone of your company!

Do not allow yourself to become subject to disruptive behavior in your workplace just because you are afraid to lose a high-performing employee. These high-performers can be developed and more than likely, you already have a number of eligible candidates right under your nose.

Have you ever had to work with or manage office divas in your organization? How did you deal with them?

If you want to learn more about your team’s dynamics and your employees behavioral characteristics, try our PPI assessment.

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