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Help managing a very brilliant employee

By RobRoyNJ ·
I have a person on my staff that is easily the most talented IT guy I've work with. He seemingly can do it all and can do it quickly and without supervision. I've been working hard to get this guy more exposure, more money, etc. and he is really at the peak of our company pay scale for someone that is not a manager of other employees.

He's expressed an interest in doing more and making more and I would like him to do this with my company and on my larger team.

The problem: In group settings the guy is a train wreck. He will either shrink quietly into a corner and defer to anyone else in the room or he will annoyingly finish everyone's sentances, make really bad (sometimes offensive) jokes, etc. A bit of a Jeckel and Hyde... I've talked to him about this and he is very sensative and doesn't react well. Still, he wants to manage people and get more freedom and interesting projects. These aren't good traits for a manager of others.

I don't want this guy to leave my company (we need more people like him and frankly, it only helps me as a manager to have others really kick butt on my team.) How can I approach him with this constructive criticism and help him get what he and I want?

I'm pursuing the creation of a new position in our new fiscal year but I don't have high hopes that this will happen as HR is very much against this kind of deal.

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You're right

by Workin4$$$ In reply to So right, yet so horribly ...

I think some of the details that go on in someone's head always get missed through personal interpretation.

I'm going to number this up in point form to bring some clarity and consistency to everything I am attempting to get across on all of my posts.

1. The only purpose of any company is to make money. If a company's stock prices plummet, investors run faster than employees. If investors run, the company goes under. (P.S. - the 5% share I own of my company, makes me an owner, and though I report to my CEO's, they also report to me.)

2. Employees effect (either directly or indirectly) the bottom line of any company, public or otherwise. They require space, care, attention, salary, benefits, parking spaces, vacation time.

On the flip-side, employees are there to assist the company achieve its goal of making more money. They ARE INTEGRAL to its survival. I know and believe that, and anything I've said that seems to the contrary is taken out of context.

Again, if I COULD live without them, I WOULD.

I cannot live without them. I don't have any employees like the one in question. I received my current position about 8 years ago. The first 2 years saw a lot of turn-over. I have a department of 150. I have the lowest turn-over in the company. Last year I had 7 people leave for good, 1 was after a maternity leave. 1 was terminated due to negligence with our Intellectual Property. 1 was terminated because he stole a laptop. 1 was terminated because he could never show up on time.

Here's a reality for you;

3. When I think about every decision made, I don't think about the employees it will affect. I think instead about my share value and how it will be impacted. I also think about the long-term profitability of my company. If my company goes bankrupt, 800 people are terminated, not 1.

This means that nobody has any work, even the honourable that want to because they enjoy it.

4. I enjoy my work, I wouldn't be doing it otherwise. I have enough to retire and live a reasonably comfortable life. I stay because I like it. Not everyone likes their job. When I was at the bottom, I hated my job. Do I want to be CEO? Nope. I'm happy with the level I've reached. I didn't quit high-school for nothing!

5. My CEO's don't coach me! WHY?

I bet it's because they're too busy planning and strategising like I am. If I do something wrong, they just tell me. They don't hand-hold me. If I keep doing it, they fire me, I've seen them do it with other incompetents, and I'd do the same to any incompetent employee of mine. I don't hand-hold employees through their careers either, and neither do my drectors, their managers, their employees, etc. It's my mandate. If you want to get ahead, figure out how. (You'd be surprised how many do figure it out)

6. If you lose a customer, you will be reprimanded. Customers are our business, period.

7. In the end, employees are assets of the company. But again, if I COULD do without them, I WOULD. I spend far too much time already focussing on human resources.

Thanks for you time.

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wrong attitude

by jrgnvogel In reply to So right, yet so horribly ...

We had one manager which acted exactly the same way as $$$. He lasted about two years, then he got fired as he well deserved. We lost two many good people due to his attitude. I discussed the matter with our CEO and it was decided that we could not effort this troubleshooting maniac. Yes the company has to make money but not at the expenses of our most importand workers. The company in question had a total of 148.000 employees worldwide. The gentleman in question also got blacklisted and probably will never work as a manager again. Companies do talk together.

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Of course, you're the VP.

by Too Old For IT In reply to So right, yet so horribly ...

I'm sure you know better than I do. What is more important, the VP is convinced that they know more thanyou do, despite the fact if they walked into an empty shop one day (news of their "I hate my employees" attitude finally leaked out?) they wouldn't know how to do it.

Every day I am convinced that it is not the Osama bin Laden's of the world who hate the citizens of this country as much as the "shitcan American workers and outsource the rest" managers!!!

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My last response to working4$$$

by darinhamer In reply to So right, yet so horribly ...

I appreciate your taking the time to explain your position in greater detail. It's been a lively debate and I appreciate it. There are definitely some things you and I agree on. First of all, bad employees should be canned. Period. Companies should not spend time and effort trying to make a bad employee good. Furthermore, good employees don't need "hand holding" but they do need to learn from those who've already been there, one way or another. Maybe they can figure it out on their own, or maybe the VPs have a vested interest in making the investment in training and mentoring to see that the best they have get better.

I still have two points where I disagree:

1) Companies do not necessarily exist JUST to make a profit. They exist to fill other roles as well, but they cannot do that without making a profit. It is possible--imperative--to seek a profit at the same time as seeking other goals, such as making the higest quality, most affordable widgit on the planet.

2) GE is an example of a company that has always groomed its leaders from the time they enter the company to the time they step into the CEO role--or whatever role they end up with. Perhaps your CEO doesn't coach you, or maybe it's subtle--for instance, rather than firing you immediately for doing something wrong, he tells you about it and expects you to fix it. That's coaching. I'm not talking about hand holding. I'm talking about preparing the next generation of leaders for the company so that the company outlasts its current leadership. To me, that's smart business and you have to be proactive about it.

In the end, I suspect working4$$$ and I agree on more than we disagree. There are certainly days I wish I could work with androids without emotions and personal agendas instead of working with humans. But I can't, so I have to work at ways of getting past all the human stuff to get the job done. I suspect this is what working4$$$ is saying. With a very low turnover rate in the company, I would say that he must be pretty good to work for, or people would be scratching at the door to get out.

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Made this account just to incite a riot? :)

by Mr L In reply to Management's Real Respons ...

Very nice flame bait. Your use of inflammatory and derogatory comments earns you a solid 4 on the troll-o-meter. Next time though, in order to get serious troll points make sure you have an account you created years ago to lend you at least the illusion of credibility. Now go away.

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I agree, this person is unlikely to be a VP

by hippikon In reply to Made this account just to ...

Made a lot of inflammatory remarks that many VPs surely feel (you HAVE to be that ruthless to reach there), but to actually express these opinions is blasphemy!!!! You have to be a really accomplished hypocrite (often fooling yourself) to reach these positions, and this person wasnt even trying to preach goodness to mankind through their deeds, as all leaders infallibly do...

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yeah, sure...

by rmjrenneboog In reply to Management's Real Respons ...

I can see how your point of view works, but I sure don't agree with it. People tend to act only in the way that is expected of them. If you want to believe your employees are a commodity and treat them that way, then that is exactly the type of employee you are going to have throughout your company, including management. Predictable productivity, but well below what they are capable of in both quantity and quality, and a decided lack of creativity and innovation coming from anywhere within the company. If I had to guess, I'd say your company has to outsource just about everything that calls for creativity and fresh points of view, and has a monumental employee turnover rate. You can't soar like an eagle when you're working for turkeys.

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I stopped reading too soon. I agree with these past two posts (see my post way down the list). I'm glad to see others stepping up and voicing "the right thing to do". I see we have some good managers here.

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Step Carefully

by craig.engel In reply to Management Responsibilty

I've met people like this. The biggest mistake managers make is they assume because they are A Manager that this somehow enables them to deal with significant personality disorders or behavioral problems. The guy could be acting this way because he is an alcoholic, a drug addict, his parents were pedaphiles, he has low self-esteem, he may be bipolar or otherwise in need of psychiatric medical treatment. Give it to him straight, explain the dilemna, give him a chance to demonstrate his capabilities, and if he can't then he doesn't get promoted to a management position. You're not an adoption agency.

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Maybe that is what is needed....

by Ou Jipi je In reply to Management Responsibilty

Maybe if you promote him and listen to him a bit closely, you might find out that it is not "personality problem"; it might be just a different style of approach.

If someone is "good worker" a bit of an aversion towards management might play role here as well (if person deals with management requests and does the good job, often he sees dow deep the problems go -- so he says once I am manager I am going to solve it)...

2 Options:
a.) Involve him in information (management level) he previously did not had access to. Ask him about his opinion before you make a decision. Start small. Make him understand that there are two teams -- management and work floor, both have different issues, and on the management team often numbers and not comon sense dictate outcome of a decision. Make him understand why some decisions are taking place. Make him understand why he needs to be quiet at times.

This does not have to take longer then three months, in which it should be obvious whether he is the management material (from your description, people like that usually are, it is the rest of the management team that might have a problem...). Then promote him.

2. He will leave and if he is good as you are saying, it is your loss really, not his.

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