Every company has them and every manager struggles with them. Talented Terrors, as we call them, are those employees who have 100% skills but 0% attitude. They have the talent you can only dream all of your employees could have, but they have the absolute worst attitude to deal with. They argue about everything, drag their feet when doing a project, and are just mad all the time.
These employees not only affect their own work, but also have a negative impact on other employees and anyone who interacts with your company. So why do you keep them around? Well they have the ability to be a high performer, but are they really achieving their fullest potential when possessing such an unmanageable attitude? We believe no employee can be 100% without both the talent and the attitude.
We conducted a three-year hiring study that tracked 5,000 leaders who collectively hired over 20,000 employees. These organizations, like most, focused on skill during the hiring process and were hiring based on how well the candidate could perform certain tasks. From the results of this study we learned that 46% of new hires fail within 18 months of starting the job. Out of this 46% that fail, 89% of the time a bad attitude is the clear reason behind it.
This proves that sometimes no matter how skillful an employee can be, if they have a bad attitude they will not reach their full potential. That is, unless you get the employee to willingly adjust their attitude. Which is what I’m here to teach you today.
There are six rules for managing the behaviors that stem from a bad attitude.
The first is Timeliness. You must confront the issues of a Talented Terror as they happen. If you let these issues continue and only bring them up when you’ve reached your boiling point, your employee will want to know why these issues are just being brought up now and in turn he or she will have their own list of all the things they’ve done right to counteract the bad and your argument will be lost. Also, if you let the bad behavior continue for a long time, your organization might not be able to withstand the resistance and negative influence of this one employee. Each bad behavior must be addressed immediately in order to have any control of the situation.
The second rule is Be Objective. Talented Terrors don’t respond well to hearing bad news. If you address the situation with an emotional tactic, the employee will just tune you out. They don’t care about how their attitude is making you feel so instead you must address the situation with an objective statement. Bad attitude almost always results in bad behavior and bad behavior can be observed and presented to the employee in an objective manner. By showing them exactly how their bad behavior negatively affects the company, they will be more willing to make an adjustment.
The third rule is Be Specific. When addressing issues like attitude, it is important to always use specific examples of bad behavior. If you generalize the behavior and use words like “always” and “never” the Talented Terror will immediately come back with an example of the opposite. If you focus on specific examples then they will not be able to disprove your argument.
The fourth rule is Be Frank. Don’t surround your critique with compliments because the Talented Terror will hear nothing but the compliments. You must be brutally honest with these employees or else you won’t be able to get your point across. If your point isn’t heard then you aren’t doing anything to resolve the situation.
The fifth rule is Stay Calm. Talented Terrors have the unique ability of making leaders lose their cool. You are most likely frustrated and angry with these employees and they can easily get under your skin. They are waiting for you to say something illogical so they can turn the situation around on you or argue your statement. Use good judgment in scheduling meetings to allow yourself time to calm down and get composed.
The last rule is Provide Choices. If you try to force a Talented Terror into doing something they don’t want to do, their attitude and behavior will only worsen. All you can do is outline the choices and enforce the consequences. This puts the ball in their court and makes them make their own decision whether they want to walk away, continue with the bad behavior and face the consequences, or change their behavior and reap the rewards.
The six rule technique is based on Leadership IQ’s close observation of 100% Leaders who are managing Talented Terrors with success. We can confidently say that it works. It’s a simple way to avoid the emotional roller coaster ride these employees can take you on while clearly saying, “These are the rules on what’s acceptable and what’s not. If you follow the rules, you chose success. If not, you get removed.