When an overblown ego wears on everyone’s patience

No matter how we do it, only her way is the right way

We’re all trying to hire A-players who’ll help our organizations move to the next level.

But integrating a new A-player into a room already filled with other A- and B-players can sometimes be challenging. Egos can be bruised and feathers ruffled during the transition.

That’s the situation manager Jen Stowell faced when her latest hire’s arrogant attitude ticked off her existing, very talented, staff.

Ready to strangle her

“Jen, we need to talk,” Tom Dooley said, entering Jen’s office and closing the door.

“I take it you’re not here to wish me a Happy New Year,” Jen said. “What’s up?”

“Sorry, I’m not in the holiday spirit,” Tom said. “It’s your new hire, Anita.”

“You asked me to show her the ropes,” Tom said. “Well, I’m ready to take that rope and strangle her with it.”

Treats us like idiots

“Tom , you’re a pro,” Jen said. “What’s Anita doing that’s bugging you so much?”

“First, she thinks she knows everything already. Second, she treats the rest of us like we’re idiots,” Tom said.

“No matter what I tell her, she knows a better way,” Tom said.

“Well, maybe there could be a better way once in a while,” Jen said. “That’s why we bring in new blood – to tap into new ideas.”

Whatever we do is wrong

“Jen, give me some credit,” Tom said. “I’ve listened to her ‘better ways,’ but after 25 times it’s clear that whatever way we do it is wrong – and whatever she did at her last job is right.  So far I’ve been unable to get it through her head that maybe we actually do some things right.  We have been pretty  successful.”

“Give her time. She’s very bright and probably is trying to impress,” Jen said.

“Time is something I don’t have a lot of right now,” Tom said. “It’s taking three times as long as necessary to show her the basics because I have to listen to her arrogant explanations.  I can’t put up with this much longer!”

The Big Question

Jen had hired Anita because she was smart and had great experience. Jen didn’t want to dampen Anita’s enthusiasm, but Tom and her existing staff were pretty smart, too.

If you were in Jen’s situation, what would you do? One of the below offered by our readers might provide you with some guidance.

1) Counsel her to win over coworkers first

We run into that kind of thing all the time in our business because we hire a lot of brainy, go-getters. I’d take Anita out to lunch and have an informal conversation. I’d put it in the context by how are things going after three or four weeks on the job. I’d also ask what she was seeing. I’d let her do all the talking at first. Then I’d gently but firmly bring up the concerns that I’d heard. I’d counsel her to slow down some – that it’s important to win people over to be successful. It would serve her best to earn her stripes before coming on like gangbusters.

Michael Boyette, VP, Al Paul Lefton Co., Onc., Philadelphia, PA

2) Behavior may be hiding her insecurity

I often find that new people coming in like this are often insecure. So I’d meet with her and ask for a routine update on how things are going in the new position. I’d try to get a lot of information from her. If she does show a cocky attitude or starts demeaning the existing employees, I’d straighten that out and let her know that the wheels have been turning, and we’re not going to create something new when something else has been working. But I’d also take the opportunity to compliment her onher new ideas and what she has to offer the company.

Charles Schulte, COO Corporate Group, Inc., St Charles, MO


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  1. Sudhir Kapadnis says

    Settling a new team member is as important as to maintain the engagement of the current lot. Hence following steps are suggested;
    1. Share the brief profile of new employee joined in the team with the existing team and purpose of induction of new member.
    2. On other side share in detail strengths and sensitive areas of the existing team members to the new member coming on board.
    3. Allow few weeks for both to get meshed with each other, however keep a tab on how the new member is settling in organisation, as it is responsibility for the new member to adapt to the environment as much organisation extends hand-holding.
    4. Convery the element of responsibility and patience to be shouldered by the existing team member as well share clearly the Organisational climate with the new team member as a feedback for any correction.

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