Dealing with highly talented and turbulent employees.

Have you ever hired, supervised or worked with a employee that was extremely talented, but in the big picture was a poor employee or co-worker? If you have, you should be able to relate and commiserate with this blog topic.

The big question is when these individuals reach the tipping point. When do their negative contributions to the team, department and organization or your brand outweigh all the positive ones. Identifying this point of no return and reacting to it is no small feat. Too often, these employees can damage and force the flight of other good employees, and even clients, before these employees are diagnosed as cancerous.

Like some financial institutions being “too big to fail,” one of the traps is believing that they are too talented to be replaced; so you try to mentor them in the belief you can change their stripes. In three decades of working in the advertising industry, I’ve not seen one of these employees successfully rehabbed and believe me I’ve been patient and crazy enough to try and reshape my share of talented and turbulent employees. And I have the scars to show for it. Another Band-Aid or path of least resistance is to isolate them as much as possible. You may try limiting their authority and interaction with others in the organization or with clients. This too will run its course with little benefit or satisfaction. Cut your losses by cutting these employees from the herd quickly is my best advice. Generally, you will find that group dynamics and teamwork will improve immediately. Employees will thank you. Other employees, who were restrained by the actions of these talented and turbulent employees, will step up and begin to shine. Overall morale and teamwork will soar. And the need for you to referee disputes and put out fires will dissipate which will impact your productivity and give you more time to work on bigger picture matters such as product development, customer acquisition and retention, mergers, or even strategic brand management and new digital marketing strategies for 2012.

Don’t be surprised if some of your clients, customers and channel partners congratulate and thank you for the move. This reaction may give you solace after many sleepless nights wrestling with the concern that the loss of their talent could put an account or some business at risk.

As you look for a replacement or other hires, you might want to put on your brand strategist hat. Run the candidates through the brand persona or profile for the team, department and organization. Then compare it to what you can discern as the candidate’s brand personality. If it’s a match, aligns closely and no red flags fly, then you may get an exceptional talent without any of the baggage.

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