Overconfident employees can be a massive challenge for managers and team leaders, so how do you deal with them?
To ensure the smooth running of a team, you need to give employees the support and guidance they need to reach their full potential. For a completely cohesive team, however, you need individuals to respect their colleagues and the role of their managers.
If you've been in charge of a group of employees, whether as a project manager or as a team leader, you're likely to have worked with overconfident individuals. This can make them especially difficult to manage for a number of reasons.
Employees who always think they're right can be challenging to handle because they often don't listen to guidance from senior managers, but it can also make it difficult for other professionals to work with them.
Often, these people can be among the most talented and creative individuals and this overconfidence is a manifestation of a desire to do their best. With this in mind, they are valuable professionals but so are the rest of your team so how do you deal with them?
Give them autonomy but clear boundaries
To channel strong-minded employees you need to give them a role that they can take charge of. For people that find taking orders or backing down difficult, this can be the opportunity to give them the autonomy they crave but with firm boundaries. To do this, give them a breakdown of what their responsibilities will be, but make sure you're clear about what they need to consult with you or other team members on to make a decision.
This should give them the right level of compromise between being able to follow their gut and understanding the importance of taking the views of others into consideration.
Be consistent with discipline
They may be talented and of high value to the company, but it's important that there are consequences for them when they go too far. Whether this is not listening to other co-workers during projects or not taking their manager's guidance into consideration, there needs to be a disciplinary procedure in place. This shouldn't be exclusive to any certain individual, but they need to know when they've overstepped the mark.
As with most disciplinary actions, you should have stages. The first, for example, should be an informal chat, which then leads into more serious consequences like written warnings. Holding employees accountable is incredibly important to ensuring they can remain a key part of a team.
Keep things focused
You shouldn't allow any employee to be a disruptive influence on the rest of the team. Strong-minded, overconfident individuals can take pleasure in having endless debates, hoping that people will concede and agree with them to avoid the conversation taking up any more time. The most important thing to deal with this is to ensure whoever is leading the meeting or brainstorm sticks to the schedule to keep things focused and will reign them in.
It's disrespectful to everyone else attending to allow events to overrun so have clear tactics to change the topic or draw a close to the meeting without them getting their own way.
Avoid reacting with emotion
When employees build themselves a reputation for being disruptive and strong-minded, it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy that they feel they have to maintain. This can mean they say or do things just to get a reaction from you or other team members. You should be careful that you don't respond with emotions but keep fixated on the goals of the meeting or discussion to avoid things spiraling.
It's also a good exercise to make sure you're not just clashing with someone's personality and dismissing their ideas, which may be of value, because it's not exactly how you'd go about it. Often, people can be jealous of younger professionals without even realizing it, so it's important that you check your own emotions and how you respond to strong-minded professionals on your team.
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