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Submitted by blyberg@ability... on


A few months ago I hired an overqualified for position my team. He's had some interpersonal communication problems (behaviors = assuming other person is incompetent, inappropriate exasperated body language, unwillingness to work within a team). I've provided feedback, but he's been fairly dismissive.

While I was in other meetings, issues came up. I received feedback from two people on my team, another manager we work with, and a very senior manager in the firm that he was very unpleasant to work with (there was a lot more).

He also suggested to another I knowingly allowed an error to go uncorrected, and that my leadership was questionable at best.

Any advice for how to handle this? Today I just took a breath and went for a walk.

gehrhorn's picture
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1. O3s

2. Feedback (4 parts to this cast). What is his DISC profile? e.g., what kind of feedback will be effective?

3. Systemic Feedback (moreover, the The Feedback Continuum

4. Coaching and Late Stage Coaching

Good luck. It sounds like you have a lot of work ahead of you. 

engineering_mgr's picture

I am guessing you have a high C or D/C. Feedback: "When you roll your eyes when grunt work is assigned, your status as an expert is diminished and your behavior distracts people from your ideas". Good podcasts,

ashdenver's picture

When someone is clearly overqualified for the position, it becomes a quagmire. They were overqualified to begin with which means they got their foundational qualifications elsewhere which indicates they've progressed beyond the position for which they were hired. There may be animosity on his part that he's sunk low enough to have stepped back to this lower level position. He probably is pretty smart and has been around the block a few times so he probably does feel like he's seen it all before and knows best, and better than everyone else on the team. This can definitely cause issues on a team.

Sometimes a good metaphor can help drive the point home and given the male pronoun, I suspect an (American) football one would work well.  He may very well have been the star quarterback of a team and the league (or company) MVP once upon a time. This is a different team (and it may even be a different game/sport entirely) and his qualifications & experience from that other team did play a part in him being offered a spot on the current team. It's a different position and a different team.

He basically accepted the position with your team as the defense coach or the waterboy or the wide receiver (or whatever works best for the situation you face.) He may never be the star quarterback again but he might end up being the Head Coach if he plays his cards right.  He might also get traded or cut from the team or benched. If he's on the team, he needs to play WITH the team and use the same playbook.  If he has great ideas, has experiences to share, there are times and places for those anecdotes, proposals, suggestions. Taking the football and throwing it into the stands just because he doesn't agree with the play being called isn't teamwork and will not improve his personal situation (he'll move closer to being cut than he will to Head Coach) and it won't get the team to respect his experience, wisdom and insight. He'll be lucky if they don't put Icy Hot in his jock strap if he keeps it up.

Either he wants to be on this team in the position he accepted and play with the team or he needs to be benched, traded or cut. As Gehrhorn suggested though, my sports analogy may not work for him based on his DISC type. I've just always found analogies and metaphors to be effective in sharing feedback in situations where emotions run high and tempers flare easily.  Good luck!

duplicate_account_MarkAus's picture

Being overqualified may be the root psychology behind the issue, but the issue is his behaviour(s). Don't get in to his motivations, just deal with the problems as they come up.

Frankly, if he's tearing down the team (including you) it is probably time to performance manage him out. As has been described above, Manager Tools has many ways to get to that point.

However based on what you're saying above, you've seem to have enough info for a strong "character building" conversation right now. I can't remember the name of the podcast, but there is one about having that conversation If you believe what others are telling you about him.'s picture
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I should have taken the chance to respond and did not.  Thank you all so much for taking the time - extremely helpful!

misstenacity's picture

Reading this thread made me think that you might have/be dealing with someone with Asperger's. Someone who has a difficult time with social filters, who expects the best work out of everyone, values truth and data over teamwork and office dynamics, and might condemn those that do not meet expectations.

So what then? Being on the spectrum is a medical diagnosis, which raises questions about what should be expected from them relative to a more typical employee.

I don't fully grok it all myself, just like I probably will not be able to understand what it is like to be an employee in a wheelchair, or with PTSD . . . 


timrutter's picture

Sorry Miss T, but not all difficult and rude people are on the DSM with ASD


misstenacity's picture

Agreed. Not all high-performing folks who act like jerks at work have ASD. Those with ASD, however, are much more likely than an average co-worker to have behavioral and social inappropriateness on their "resume". With the diagnosis rate so high it is worth keeping in mind if this is a situation going on at one's workplace.