Monday, October 25, 2010

The Jerk Employee

There seems to always be one employee that no one in the company can stand. They are usually rude and often condescending toward others and they seem to create problems and conflict with everything they do. But the entrepreneur keeps them around for some reason, regardless of how bad the complaints from the other employees get.

Why? Because the jerk is usually really good at something and the entrepreneur is willing to put up with the collateral damage for their behavior. But what does it do to the culture? How does it affect the other employees? Is it possible that the jerk is costing you more than any value they are bringing?

I have a lot of examples I could share, but I'll just give a couple of scenarios I've commonly seen.

SCENARIO 1 - The sales manager for a quickly growing outsourcing company rubs everybody in the company the wrong way. Nobody wants to work with the customers she sells because she always over promises, usually way beyond the capacity of the company and its employees to deliver. But she can bring in business like no one else, and the entrepreneur needs that productivity to help his company grow.

SCENARIO 2 - A product company does its own R&D in house. The lead engineer is a bit quirky, but a brilliant engineer with even a little bit of design capacity in him. But his bedside manner is sub-par and no one can stand to be around him. And if they are, he is always quick to remind them how smart he is and how the company would be nowhere without him.

So, have you ever experienced the jerk employee? How did you handle it? What would you recommend others do?