How to Stay Sane Managing High Maintenance Employees

By November 22, 2018 Identifying Talent

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

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

Recognizing the High Maintenance Employee

It’s important to know the difference between high maintenance, high-performance employees and an employee who’s just plain difficult. The high maintenance employees mentioned here are skilled, driven people who happen to have a few high maintenance quirks. It’s good to have a few employees like this, 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 just to fulfill their basic 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 a little too competitive on certain 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 constantly manage their work. A happy employee is a productive employee.

Every employee has a different working style and requires a different approach to management. You might want to 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.

Make your boundaries very clear, both verbally and in your company policies. Just because an employee performs well doesn’t mean you’ll tolerate any type of behavior. If an employee is behaving 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, take a good look in the mirror. Is it possible you perceive an employee as high maintenance when really, you’re just falling short as a leader? If an employee requires better communication, clearer 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. 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
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