Every organisation has a unique category of employees: those who are exceptionally productive but equally challenging to manage. These individuals often bring many skills but have complexities that demand strategic management. So, how does one approach this paradox? Below, we outline the top ten tips for effectively managing a problematic yet highly productive employee.
- Recognise Their Value
Give Credit Where It’s Due
Acknowledging such an employee’s exceptional skills and contributions not only boosts their morale but also reaffirms their importance to the team and organisation.
- Set Clear Expectations
Make sure both roles and expectations are clearly defined. Knowing the limits often curbs over-enthusiasm that otherwise might manifest as disruptive behaviour.
- Open Lines of Communication
Regular one-on-one meetings can provide valuable insights into the concerns and aspirations of the employee, helping to fine-tune your management approach.
- Use Constructive Criticism
Frame Feedback Positively
Instead of outright criticism, offer constructive feedback highlighting the negative impact of their behaviour, followed by suggestions for improvement.
- Deploy Tactical Delegation
Align Skills with Tasks
Assign tasks that play to their strengths and require them to work collaboratively. This fosters teamwork and tempers tendencies towards isolationism.
- Encourage Self-Awareness
Point out Blind Spots
Use feedback sessions to help employees recognise their blind spots, particularly those affecting team dynamics.
- Flexibility Within Frameworks
Offer Autonomy, but Set Guidelines
Allow room for autonomy and independent decision-making but within the confines of well-established guidelines and expectations.
- Provide Growth Opportunities
Enable Skill Enhancement
Difficult but productive employees often have a high appetite for growth. Offering skill development opportunities can direct their energy positively.
- Enlist Peer Assistance
Leverage Team Dynamics
Incorporate insights from other team members who interact with the problematic employee. Their observations can offer alternate perspectives that are valuable for management strategies.
- Know When to Take Action
Set the Consequences
Despite all efforts, there might be instances where disciplinary action becomes inevitable. Make sure to have a transparent process in place for such scenarios, which is both fair and transparent.
Reviewing performance metrics can help you gauge whether your management strategies are having the desired impact on both productivity and team dynamics.
Collecting feedback from the team can offer additional insights into how well the difficult yet productive employee is being managed.
Managing a difficult yet highly productive employee poses a complex challenge requiring a nuanced approach. By combining recognition with constructive feedback, clear guidelines with flexible autonomy, and strategic delegation with growth opportunities, managers can effectively harness the potential of these enigmatic individuals. It is a delicate balancing act that can bring immense value to the team and the organisation as a whole.