The firebrand, the mad genius, the diva virtuoso: these types can be essential to a company's effectiveness (and its bottom line) while proving disruptive and insidious to a team. Sometimes, the most competent, intelligent, productive employees come with personality baggage that more modest achievers don't, like ego and megalomania. This can be jarring to the cohesion of a department or even a company, when toxic personalities thrive on preferential treatment and their turn in the spotlight.
Cliff Oxford, founder of the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs in Atlanta, has very direct advice for managers who face this problem: "Get rid of the brilliant jerk as fast as you can," he told John Grossman of the New York Times. Taking decisive action to squash unacceptable behavior can be difficult, but worth the effort.
"Confront the destructive hero with his or her unacceptable behaviors; get agreement that specific changes are necessary; and set a deadline of several months to make and maintain the turnaround," writes Grossman. "Along the way…be sure to document the changes or lack of changes that ensue, that way establishing grounds for dismissal and protection against retaliatory lawsuits."
Often, bosses give top-notch performers a pass on behavior that might border on a fire-able offense if committed by a less valuable employee. Egotists in the workplace can be combative, distracting, and weaken morale across an office. Whether your golden child is a garden variety jerk or a full-fledged Charlie Sheen, you may be overestimating his or her contributions to your company and its mission. In Forbes, J. Maureen Henderson advocates for employers to root out rudeness and bullying, even if success takes a hit in the short term.
Coined the "destructive hero," scampy all-stars could leave coworkers walking on eggshells. Knowing how to identify and solve the problem can fortify a company's long term success.