How to Effectively Manage Difficult Employees: The Egomaniac

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How to Effectively Manage Difficult Employees: The Egomaniac

A few weeks ago, I introduced you to an employee you may have encountered in your lifetime, called The AWOL. You know, the one that just never seems to be around when a project is due? The AWOL is just one of many personality types that Jezra Kaye and I help managers address with our book, Managing the Unmanageable: How to Motivate Even the Most Unruly Employee.

Today, I’m bringing another unmanageable employee (UE) to the table. This one is called “The Egomaniac.” Perhaps you’ve met?

If you have, you may have heard the words me me me me me me me.  This UE takes the phrase “not a team player” to new heights.  A healthy ego can be a good thing; but the same ego that drives an Egomaniac to succeed can drive her colleagues to distraction.  And worse, the Egomaniac doesn’t just think about herself all the time; she seems to be out for herself all the time, too.

How are you supposed to deal with this person? Jezra and I came up with a tool kit of sorts, which we call the “5C’s.” They are easy to remember and just might help you wrangle The Egomaniac.


  1. First, you need to Commit or Quit. Do you want to retain this employee? If you are going to take on that challenge, rather than the challenge of finding and hiring someone new, you really need to commit. Yes, you may be committing to the future of someone you may not even like.
  2. Then, it’s time to Communicate. Managers may not love the idea, but having a completely straight forward and honest conversation with the UE is imperative. This might be easier with The Egomaniac who is more than willing to discuss themselves that it would be with the AWOL, for example. But what kind of conversation? That leads us to the next “C.”
  3. While talking to your UE and attempting a UE salvage, managers need to clarify goals and roles. Though employees typically think they know what is expected of them at work, what they “know” might not be correct. It’s amazing what you might discover when discussing an employee’s behavior, framed within the context of goals and roles.
  4. After having a frank conversation with The Egomaniac and clarifying their goals and roles, some will self-correct. However, what really needs work here is their attitude. That’s where coaching comes in. Coaching is a great management tool and can be quickly learned. You can coach your UE to help shift their inner-attitudes and make a huge impact on both your relationship with your UE and your UE’s career.
  5. The above four steps will help make positive changes in The Egomaniac’s behavior. However, we all know that habits are hard to break, and that rings true even more when it comes to changing habitual attitudes. To mitigate that, create accountability with your UE. Take some time to create a system wherein your employee can deliver the changes you’ve discussed. This will keep The Egomaniac on track as well as keep you on track with your management efforts.

Managers, I want to hear from you! Tell me about your experience with egomaniac employees. What has worked and not worked for you in managing them? Leave a comment below, send me an email, or tweet me.

There are many more difficult employee types that seem unmanageable. I love to speak about those unmanageables too! Stay tuned.

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