Despite his solid results, it's time to rein in office bully

ManagementAugust 26, 2012 

Q. One of our company's most productive project managers suffers from arrogance and a terminal lack of consideration that has survived three employer-mandated sensitivity training courses.

"Brad" doesn't check with his peers before taking actions that commit their departments to deadlines. He calls team members out in meetings, making it clear he considers them incompetent. He creates friction with peers, subordinates and support staff because he doesn't respond to emails and Outlook meeting invitations.

Because Brad's projects achieve results,he expects a raise and a hefty end-of-the year bonus.When I tell Brad he has to work more cooperatively with others, he says if he were in charge of the two departments lateral to him, we'd have a lot more efficiency and effectiveness.

Brad's projects are great revenue- generators so I don't want to be too heavy-handed and lose him, but others in our company continue to tell me I've got to get him turned around. In short, our company "can't live with him, can't live without him." What works with Brads?

A. Brad has you buffaloed and won't change unless he thinks it's in his best interest.

Grab his attention. Because Brad has no problem describing people and situations as he sees them, do the same. Directly let him know you value his results but when you weigh the friction he creates against the results he touts, you can't reward him.

Tell him that while his results-orientation might light a fire under his former peers if you place him in charge of them, it more likely will send them and multiple other employees running for the exit.

Some of Brad's practices make no sense and disrespect everyone else. He doesn't respond to others' Outlook notices? Why the heck not? It takes a minute to look at a calendar and respond "Accepted, maybe or no." What makes Brad's minute worth others' considerable frustration?

Brad can't respond to emails because he's got other priorities? What leads him to not respond "received your email, will respond when I've thought it through if I can add perspective." Unless Brad is a lone ranger, he needs to respect communications from others so they don't feel they're playing handball with no wall.

Next, when Brad commits other departments to deadlines without first checking with their managers, you let him act as his peers' de facto manager. While his asking-for-forgiveness-rather-than-permission strategy meets his needs and may even work for your company, it creates havoc for others and potentially undercuts your company's total productivity.

Finally, what gives Brad the right to publicly insult other team members? If you let him do this within your hearing and don't call him on this crappy behavior, you okay Brad's actions and allow your company culture to sink to a new low.

What works with Brads? Senior managers who deal with what's not working, as well as what is. Bottom line -- when companies allow, reward or promote those who run roughshod over others, they honor individualist star players who erode everyone else's morale and effectiveness.


Dr. Lynne Curry is a management/employee trainer and owner of the consulting firm The Growth Company Inc. Send your questions to her at thegrowthcompany.com.

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