How to Stay Sane Managing High Maintenance Employees

By November 22, 2018 October 23rd, 2023 Identifying Talent

Last Updated on October 23, 2023 by Dave Schoenbeck

At some point, every business owner with a team of employees will run into the same issue: you have one dedicated worker who does the work and gets results… but they have such a high-maintenance personality that you wonder if it’s worth keeping them around.

Luckily, there’s hope: you must learn to handle high-maintenance employees with a firm and understanding hand. Here are a few tips for managing high-maintenance employees in your business.

A woman boss comforts an employee, depicting managing high-maintenance employees.


Recognizing the High Maintenance Employee

Knowing the difference between high-maintenance, high-performance employees and an employee who’s just plain tricky is essential. The high-maintenance employees mentioned here are skilled, driven people with a few high-maintenance quirks. Having a few employees like this is good, as they can shake up the status quo and encourage creative thinking.

This is not to be confused with the type of employee who requires a lot of maintenance to fulfill their essential job functions. There’s no room for that type of employee at your business.

A high-maintenance employee might have qualities such as needing constant assistance, requiring an abundance of approval, chatting too much with coworkers, getting too competitive on specific projects, or taking constructive criticism personally. All of these traits are things that can be avoided through effective management.

Managing High Maintenance, High-Performance Employees

The first step is to determine your employee’s strengths. If you give them projects that cater to these strengths, you’ll keep them active and engaged without needing to manage their work constantly. A happy employee is a productive employee.

Every employee has a different working style and requires a different approach to management. Consider having each employee take a personality test, such as the DISC (ask me for access to a wide range of tools), to give their coworkers and managers a better understanding of how best to communicate and influence others.

Could you clearly clarify your boundaries, both verbally and in your company policies? Just because an employee performs well doesn’t mean you’ll tolerate any behavior. If an employee behaves in a problematic way, you’ll need to sit down with them and point out the (hopefully well-documented) rule they’re breaking.

Maybe the employee isn’t breaking any rule but is still getting on your nerves (or the nerves of their coworkers.) In this case, a sit-down discussion is still required. Ask them what they need from you and whether their needs are being met. Often, there’s a simple fix. Work together to create an environment in which they can thrive.

Finally, could you take a good look in the mirror? Is it possible you perceive an employee as high maintenance when you’re falling short as a leader? If an employee requires better communication, more precise objectives, a better challenge, or other leadership-related stimuli, these are all areas in which you have the power to improve.

High-maintenance employees can be a boon to your business if you learn how to manage them properly. Please fill out my contact form for a complimentary coaching session to work on your management of high-performance associates.  It is an investment in your future.

Coach Dave


Dave Schoenbeck
Follow Dave