Good Results. Bad Attitude: How To Handle High Performing Employees That Play By Their Own Rules.

You know the type, and have possibly experienced them in the past as a peer, but now you have one as your subordinate.

They know they produce good results – great results even. The customers even love them, but they have attitudinal traits that have you grinding your teeth at night.

They upset others in the office, impact morale, are tardy with their punctuality or deadlines, or just blatantly refuse to carry out your directions. Yet still, unarguably, they produce outstanding work.

How do you handle the good performer with a bad attitude?

  1. Evidence Of Impact

Before confronting them find concrete evidence of the impact their attitude has to the workplace and productivity around them.

  • Have other staff left because of them? Work out the cost of that replacement.
  • Do team members avoid collaborating with them? Gallup research indicates in studies that disgruntled staff cost an organisation up to $16,000 per employee annually.
  • Does their tardiness delay meeting starts? Add up the hourly cost of everyone in the meeting divide it by 60 and times it by each minute they are late. You have the minute by minute cost their tardiness has just cost the company. Add that to all the other times and it starts to add up.

Work out in real terms how their attitude is impacting the company.

  1. 2. Understand Where The Behaviour Is Coming From
  • Don’t always assume their behaviour is intentional to get others (and you) offside. Often they can be    oblivious to the impact they have. In fact in some cases, these types may justify their behaviour as  being noble in the name of ‘getting the job done’.
  • Psychological profiling tools such as Myers-Briggs, DISC and The McQuaig System will raise the  propensity that these characters are highly independent and dominant traits that have been with them since early childhood. They are running on behaviour that is natural to them, in many, but not all, cases.

3. Consequences Of Their Behaviour

  • This is where developing and having strong coaching skills will help you to raise their awareness to what the consequences of behaviour are.
  • List them down before you meet. e.g, loss of their credibility, poor relationships and collaboration with team members.
  • Ask them for ways that they feel when they are inconvenienced, or see others in the organisation have different ‘rules’ they live by. How does it make them feel? You are then more likely to help them meet you in the space that you are.
  • Set boundaries – Be clear on the areas in the workplace you will allow flexibility and where you will not.
  • Praise their good performance at a separate time. Don’t lump it in with the constructive feedback or issue you are trying to raise now.

4. Document, Document, Document!

  • I can’t stress enough how important it is to make a record of the behaviour that is in clear misalignment with company policy. It is your back up plan for when the time comes that they will want some thing from you. Like approval for annual leave.

In this case you have legislation on your side and the employer is within their right to direct when employees holidays are taken. At this point you may ask the employee why you should approve them if they don’t feel they need to toe company line and your directions. It is now that you may be able to ask for a period of time that they correct their behaviour, at which point you may then agree to grant the leave. Is this inconveniencing them? possibly. Have you, or others been inconvenienced by their behaviour? They will start to get the picture, however you must provide concrete and documented examples with the impact. However be warned that once employee leave is approved the weight of legislation errs on the side of the employee to secure that leave.

If necessary, alert your up line the strategy you are taking with this employee and gain their support.

In summary:

  • Examine the REAL impacts and pick your battles.
  • Learn how to coach effectively and develop your skills.
  • Raise their awareness to the consequences of their behaviour to them, not you.
  • Set boundaries.
  • Document each occurrence.
  • Use the formal structure, systems and authority you have if behaviour continues.

Contact Corporate Canary HR Consulting to learn more about developing coaching skills for leaders or for a FREE demonstration of The McQuaig Personality Profiling System.

When have you had a similar problem? Leave your comments below…