里维斯经营着一家职场辅导公司XBInsight，主要业务便是为《财富》500强公司（Fortune 500）和美国国家橄榄球联盟（National Football League，NFL）驯服那些桀骜不驯的高效能员工。这家公司开发了一款专有工具，用来评估员工（和管理者）的哪些行为需要改进，如何改进。此外，里维斯还出版过的一本书——《如何驾驭桀骜不驯的员工》（High-Maintenance Employees: Why Your Best People Will Also Be Your Most Difficult…and What to Do About It），或许对你会有所帮助。
Dear Annie: I've never seen this problem addressed in your column, but I can't be the only one struggling with it. About six months ago, I got this great new job leading a team of 18 software developers and designers, and everything's going great, with one exception. One of our most talented people is also the most difficult and unpredictable. He has terrific ideas and often comes up with elegant solutions to challenges that have other people tearing their hair out. He's also the brain behind two of our biggest hit products.
However, he's not at all interested in project deadlines, he's dismissive of other people's ideas, and he's so absorbed in his own work that he misses a lot of meetings, so he's never quite up to speed with the details of what's going on. I want to keep him here (he's already changed jobs four times in eight years, and I know for a fact he gets other offers all the time), but his prima donna act is bad for the whole team. How can I get him to play well with others? — Baffled Boss
Dear Baffled: Ah. Sounds like a textbook example of what executive coach Katherine Graham Leviss calls a high-maintenance high-performance (or HMHP) employee. "These people tend to be visionary, big-picture thinkers. They're independent producers, and they're very driven, but they're not process-oriented. They're focused on results," she says. "Once they have a mental image of the outcome they want, they go after it without regard to how what they're doing affects teammates."
Leviss runs XBInsight, a coaching firm that specializes in taming HMHPs for Fortune 500companies and the National Football League. The company has developed a proprietary tool for assessing where and how employees' (and managers') behavior can improve. Leviss also wrote a book you might want to check out called High-Maintenance Employees: Why Your Best People Will Also Be Your Most Difficult…and What to Do About It.
"HMHPs are tremendously valuable if properly managed," Leviss says. "And luckily, they're highly coachable. One thing this personality type can't stand is feeling out of control. So once you create an awareness of the problems an HMHP's behavior is causing, he or she is likely to feel a sense of urgency about getting back on top."
How do you do that?
1. Set up consistent processes and guidelines. "If there's no process in place, HMHPs will create their own," says Leviss -- and that can lead to chaos. But don't let an HMHP determine what the process is going to be, even though he or she will probably try. Instead, assign designing the structure of a project, including deadlines, to "more methodical, step-by-step team members who are good at that."
2. Assign them tasks they can "own." This is largely a matter of turning an HMHP's outsized ego to your, and the rest of the team's, advantage. Since these are people who want to put their own stamp on their work -- and since "they're usually highly technically proficient," Leviss notes -- put them in charge of the part of each project where they can shine the brightest.