10 Tips to Help Manage High Performers with Difficult Personalities

December 17th, 2011 by Michael Page

As we wrap up 2011 and consider how to achieve the goals set for 2012 we depend on high performers. But managing high performers with difficult personalities is one of the greatest managerial challenges that leaders face. We see it all the time across every industry and function.

Profiles Research Institute surveyed managers on this topic and found that the majority of managers responding to the survey do not use assessments to work with difficult employees. These tools can be very useful in identifying not only high performers, how well the person will fit the job and most importantly these difficult employees.

In this month we’ve provided managers with 10 simple tips to overcome this challenge. We’ve also provided information on the Profiles Performance Indicator and the Team Building Analysis Report which are designed to help managers but together winning teams and reduce conflict. The Profiles Managerial Fit plays a key role as well in measuring critical workplace compatibility factors. So whether you are putting together a new team, or trying to keep one from falling part in the wake of a difficult employee, our assessments can help.

A multi-state federal credit union and three-year client of Profiles International, reduced turnover by 15%, generated 488% ROI, and aligned talent with the organizational culture. Learn more about this company’s remarkable success in our December featured case study.

Woodmen of the World, a fraternal benefit organization and Profiles client shared a highly insightful case study where they used the Workplace Engagement Survey to boost engagement and performance as well as company morale. Download the full report to learn how they did it.

Featured Article

10 Tips to Help Manage High Performers with Difficult Personalities

Managing high performers with difficult personalities is one of the greatest managerial challenges that leaders face. We see it all the time across every industry and function. 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 people while minimizing negative impact they have on their co-workers and the organizational climate?

Research conducted by Profiles International shows that today’s workplaces are overrun with “divas” and “jerks”. I’m sure we all have one in our office! Our 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% 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% disagreed that it is ok for managers to give special treatment to difficult characters just because they are high performers
  • A shocking 49% of managers could not identify what makes a high performers 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

Addressing engagement at each of these unique levels requires different actions. The remainder of this report will examine the different ways leaders can address engagement and motivate employees to be more committed and excited about their daily tasks.

1. Engagement at the organizational level

However, these issues do not go unnoticed, managers are reluctant to do anything about it, as the cost tends to exceed the benefits. 62% of participants agreed with this statement.

The majority of managers surveyed claimed, they do not use assessments to work with difficult employees. These tools can be very useful in identifying not only high performers, how well the person will fit the job and most importantly these difficult employees.

For all you managers out there dealing with these Jerks, Prima Donnas and Hot Heads, here are 10 simple tips to managing 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 to submit reports about how he or she is seeking to change their behavior
  9. Put the employee on probation for the appropriate amount of time
  10. For more serious problems, terminate the employee immediately, explain cause and provide pay for any hours worked.

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!

Featured Product

Profiles Performance Indicator™ (PPI)

Our Profiles Performance Indicator™ (PPI) is a DISC personality style employee performance assessment test. The employee performance report this test provides can be used to manage employee performance in order to make every employee more valuable and productive. The reports help you understand how an individual can be understood, motivated, and managed so that you can improve job performance. The Profiles Performance Indicator™ also provides recommendations for improving employee performance. Recommendations include: how to respond to job-related stress, frustration and conflict; how to stimulate employee motivation; how to conduct effective performance appraisal; and how to determine whether the employee is internally motivated or will need external stimulation.

A powerful feature of the PPI is the Team Analysis Report, designed to help managers form new teams, reduce team conflict, improve team communication, improve their ability to anticipate problems and enhance their team leadership skills.

Click Here to Learn More Profiles Performance Indicator™.

Profiles Managerial Fit™ is a manager assessment test which measures critical workplace compatibility factors between managers (executive, director, supervisor, team leader, etc.) and their employee(s) to determine managerial fit. Understanding the dynamics of the supervisor-subordinate relationship helps the manager work more effectively with each employee by recognizing where their perspectives are similar and where they differ. With this increased understanding, managers can easily identify areas they need to develop, go through appropriate manager training, and strive towards becoming a competent manager.

Click Here to Learn More Profiles Managerial Fit™.

Did You Know?

  • 23% of employees fail because they cannot manage emotions.
  • 17% of employees fail because they lack the necessary motivation to excel.
  • 15% of employees fail because they have the wrong temperament for a job.

Featured Case Study

An unbroken circle known as the Synergy Wheel puts the mission in sharp focus at a Federal Credit Union in North Carolina. The simply stated mission in the center of the wheel is this: “Helping members make smart financial choices.”

However, high turnover in parts of the workforce of this well-respected institution could have put the wheel on a bumpy path. So the credit union’s leaders took the advice of a consulting firm and began to study how assessments might help improve employee retention and performance. They eventually chose ProfileXT© to help align talent with workplace culture.

Within a month of embarking on the journey with PXT, the nonprofit financial institution had a firm target. The quick 30-day turnaround is not surprising; “Execution with a bias for action” is one of the spokes on the organization’s Synergy Wheel. Click here to learn more about this amazing company.

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