The whole team knew Bob drank Maalox out of the bottle like it was a cold beer on a hot day. It was no wonder, Bob’s job was incredibly stressful. He worked long hours to accomplish nearly impossible deadlines. To Bob’s credit, he was intelligent, talented, and willing to do anything to get the job done. But to say he lacked people skills is an understatement.
He supervised a staff of eight technical people who were hired and fired (or quit) with scary frequency. Today we would call Bob’s department a toxic environment, back then we called it hell. We walked on pins and needles, never knowing who his next target would be.
When staff approached Bob’s supervisor about the situation, they were told to be team players and work together. Bob was getting the job done and talent like his was rare. In other words, “Suck it up and shut up.”
Thankfully things have improved in the last 20 years; Interpersonal and communication skills are highly valued, and training is readily available.
But there are still employers and owners who make excuses for talented employees who are difficult to work with. They like the results they see from outside the chaos, responding with “It’s just the way he is, don’t take it personally.” Meanwhile performance and morale suffer.
If you have a difficult employee in your organization, addressing the situation candidly with the individual is important. Explain the value they bring to the company and the negative impact their behavior is having on the organization. Give the employee the opportunity to change. Offer appropriate training or coaching to help them develop more effective interpersonal skills.
If the employee refuses to admit he has a problem, blames others for his actions or feels he doesn’t need training, do yourself, your employees, and your company a favor and let him go.
No one person is irreplaceable, and when you ignore the signs of trouble, the culture of your company may suffer beyond repair.
The road is easier together,