"Tommy, I really don't want him on my team."
Well, I understood their reluctance. He was a sales superstar, but he just couldn't get along with a lot of the people in the company. He didn't show up to customer appointments on time. He didn't communicate well with the office. He didn't put any effort into his admin tasks.
Naturally, we had to part ways. He called us a month later, begging for his job back.
So, here I was trying to appease my team, while also capitalize on his sales genius.
After days of thinking hard, I came up with a solution that seemed like it might just work. I would help him start his own company (which would be a subsidiary under mine) and hire him as a trainer on contract.
Guess what happened? This guy's work ethic went through the roof, and he's now traveling every other weekend to train all our technicians who are based outside of our HQ. This guy is now working in a role that suits him, that rewards him based on his performance. He finally feels like he's working at a job worth giving his all.
If you, too, have a superstar employee you're struggling to manage, here are two tips on how to do just that:
1. Have a strict "no jerk" rule.
Even the top performers should know that they can never get away with bad attitude at work. The key is: You need to enforce this with zero tolerance.
Remember, you want to protect your company culture at all costs. One bad apple, even if they're your superstar, could ruin it for the entire team.
To implement your "no jerk" rule, be proactive. If someone shows any signs of an attitude problem, document it and talk about it with them right away.
Give them a verbal warning and remind them about your workplace policy. If there's no improvement after some time, fire them (just make sure you get HR and legal counsel to follow labor laws).
2. Match them with the right roles.
Some top performers find it hard to thrive in a structured environment, but that doesn't mean you should give up on them immediately. While they might not be the perfect fit for the job they're currently in, they might just shine 10 times more in another role more suited to them.
To do this, whip out your organizational chart and consult it. Look at what kind of roles and skill sets would contribute the most to your company's growth, and figure out which of these are a match with your employee. If it makes sense, consider making your employee an "intrapreneur," like I did.
Ready for a plot twist? Alright--while I've given you all these tips on managing brilliant but difficult employees, do know that sometimes it's better to just part ways with these people.
Consider the big picture. Are this person's results worth all the effort from you, and all the conflict within your team?
If it doesn't take an insane amount of work to make it work, by all means, do it. If not, remember that, at the end of the day, one rockstar employee won't likely make your company a million-dollar business--it's your team that will.