Rise Performance Group

Managing Jerks, Divas and Hotheads in the Workplace

By Aoife Gorey

Today, many companies face pressure to retain their very best, high performing employees. However, some of these employees can be ‘difficult’ at times or as we have suitably named this report, “Jerks, Prima Donnas, Divas, and Hotheads.”

We wanted to discover how companies today are rising to the challenges of managing difficult high performers. Especially when times are tough, employers can be hesitant to let go of these high performers despite their disruptive attitudes.

The Profiles Research Institute collected data from 700 participants over 10 months and concluded some surprising results.

  • 77% stated that their managers did not manage ‘difficult’ high performers effectively
  • A shocking 49% of managers could not identify what makes a high performer successful
  • 68% of managers did not understand why ‘difficult’ high performers behave the way they do
  • 78% of managers did not know how to manage these employees effectively

Understanding that the task of managing these characters can be trying, it proves more intense for younger inexperienced managers.  Managers are scared to threaten a punishment on the chance that this particular ‘high performer’ will leave the company. However, if disruptive behavior goes unchecked, it can create a very negative, de-motivating atmosphere for the remaining employees.

All employees have different personalities, different thinking styles and different management styles. It is crucial that managers take into account their own management style along with the employee’s personality to ensure that they can effectively control and adapt to any situation.

If the person’s behavior goes too far, and they remain employed, it could seriously damage staff morale. Do not be too hesitant to let these people go, just because they are high performers. This one person could badly affect the remaining ‘well-behaved’ employees. These employees are the backbone of your company! So don’t wait – act! Consider these 6 steps to relieving the pain.

1. Talk to the employee.
Have a one-on-one conversation with the employee in private. They may not realize their performance or behavior is unacceptable and disruptive to others.

2. Describe the issues objectively.
Use facts and examples to describe both what they are doing and why it isn’t acceptable. Guide them to how you want to see them behave.

3. Focus on specific positive outcomes.
Paint a picture of what behavior you want them to start exhibiting, i.e. “I need you to start doing this, because …” If necessary, provide the employee with outside training and make yourself available for additional training.

4. Set clear expectations.
Expectations about behavior and performance are critical to correct the issues – depending on the person, job and deliverables; you may want to give a week or two or even a few months. Be sure to outline clear guidelines of conduct for the employee.

5. Lay out next steps.
What must they do, what will you do, when/how will you reconnect. Schedule a formal employee review, even if one is not due. Request the employee to submit reports about how he or she is seeking to change their behavior.

6. Write down everything.
Once you start dealing with a weak employee, firing them may become the only option.  Make sure you prepare yourself for that by keeping a record of all issues and interactions.  It can save you a lot of time and money later.

Managers beware! 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 infamous high-performers can be developed and more than likely you already have a number of eligible candidates right under your nose to be the ‘next big thing’.

Have you ever had to deal with an office jerk, diva, or hothead in your organization? How did you deal with it?

0 thoughts on “Managing Jerks, Divas and Hotheads in the Workplace”

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