“I met someone recently who was looking to improve themselves. They were incredibly good at their job, loved by clients and a top performer. But they were also known as the office nightmare, disliked to the point that no one wanted to work with them.”
“You just think, ‘What can that do to a business?’”
Jo White, leadership coach and partner at Team Sterka, has worked with her fair share of people like this – who she affectionately labels ‘toxic rockstars’ and ‘loveable incompetents’.
“In every agency I’ve ever worked in, once you get to a certain size, there will be someone you struggle with in your team,” she says.
“It’s generally someone who is either really good at their job but behaves badly, or someone who is a perfect fit culturally but underperforms technically. Making allowances and acceptances for these people can send a dangerous message to your team."
“I had a team member who was really difficult to work with,” she explains. “They weren’t outright rude but briefings would be challenging, review meetings were painful, but they would always deliver something absolutely amazing.”
“We excused their behaviour on the basis that they always delivered. However, when they left the business, the transformation that occurred in the team was unbelievable.”
How do you handle team members like this?
“It’s about being honest with yourself and that person about it. These are not bad people in any way, shape or form – they probably have the absolute best of intentions,” Jo says. “Perhaps you won’t be able to solve it, so you might have to make a difficult decision.”
“Finding that balance of people is quite difficult with different personalities and approaches, but if you leave these things to roll on, the impact on the rest of the business – and your credibility as a leader – can be compromised.”
Have you been in this position? Have you had to have these difficult conversations and make difficult decisions?
Come along and discuss your experiences.