In the real world, we tend to cut our high performers a bit more behavioral slack than we do the average performer. This isn’t necessarily wrong. High performance is the result of high internal standards, a key characteristic of successful organizations. Sometimes however, no matter how high the performance, behavioral issues become unacceptable. This is especially true when people cross the values line in their attitude and behavior toward coworkers.
What is the best way to confront them? Are there techniques that get better results than others?
First of all, we can’t delay. Leaders who avoid difficult conversations quickly lose the respect of those they lead. Before we act however, we should plan our conversation by answering this question, “what are the desired results and what has to happen for the desired results to occur?”
The answer to the first part of the question is usually obvious; that the behavior is corrected. The answer to the second part is a little more difficult. Generally speaking, what has to happen for them to correct their behavior is for them to be open to criticism, i.e. not become defensive.
Two techniques help minimize defensiveness. The first is to separate the person from the behavior. If someone is acting like a jackass, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are one. Begin by focusing on their strengths and understanding the intent of their actions. Most people don’t intend to be rude, disrespectful, or arrogant.
The second technique is discussing how others are receiving and interpreting their behavior. Usually, people are surprised to find out they’re being seen as selfish, arrogant or disrespectful by their peers. For the introspective person, learning this can be transformational.
It’s important to schedule plenty of time for these conversations. Sometimes, people with high inner standards project their frustration with their own performance onto others without realizing it. This is often the cause. They don’t realize their doing so and it can take time for them to sort this out.
There are a few red flags. Some people are responsibility deniers: always blaming others. In addition, there are people who are trapped in their own selfishness and arrogance. These traits can’t be fixed within the scope of most organizations and these people are best employed elsewhere.
Try the above techniques; they work.