Meet Christopher (not his real name). Christopher is what I call bratty. He is a young, smart over-achiever. He is making lots of money and has received a rapid series of promotions within his organization. Recently, I had a meeting with Christopher’s team and his behaviour, to be honest, was appalling! He was sarcastic with his teammates. He rolled his eyes and crossed his arms throughout my session. Later, his boss told me that Christopher doesn’t believe in coaches or leadership training. In the same conversation, I told his boss that I don’t believe in bad behaviour at work. I know, I can be a bit sassy sometimes!
So, what is going on here? Well, Christopher’s boss is tolerating his bad behaviour because Christopher is a “star performer”. He is super smart and extremely hard working. I recently started coaching Christopher’s boss. I told him that I will only agree to coach him if he gives me two hours with Christopher. If we can’t turn Christopher around…he needs to go! Why? Well Christopher’s bratty behaviour creates a lot of tension on the team and decreases the team’s productivity. Interestingly enough, Christopher knows that he is being bratty and but he just does not care. Just wait until I get my hands on him!!!!
I am working with his boss to create some new rules of engagement. Here is the list we created that Christopher’s boss now needs to enforce with him:
- No more sarcasm
- No more banging chairs when he is feeling upset
- No more swearing (now I have been know to swear myself every now and then…but really there is a time and a place!)
Can you believe that Christopher is getting away with this behaviour? Unfortunately you probably can believe it. You have likely experienced a situation like this over the course of your career. The problem is that too many people out there get away with bad behaviour because they are “star performers”.
Well, if you have someone on your team like Christopher, here are some strategies that you can implement to help cope with the situation.
You need to:
- Lay down the law
- Tell “the brat” that it is time that we set a positive tone on the team
- Provide a list of the behaviours that are no longer acceptable e.g. swearing, sarcasm etc.
- Explain the impact of their behaviour on the team
- Outline the positive behaviours that they need to start demonstrating
- Be specific about the behaviours that you want to see e.g. respect, listening, open communication, team-work etc.
- Provide a definition of each behaviour with some examples
- Create an action plan with “the brat” detailing how the desired behaviours will be implemented
- Call out any bad behaviour right away
- When he/she displays bad behaviour, give him/her feedback in a private setting immediately – sometimes the behaviour is habit and he/she is not aware of it
- Provide positive reinforcement when the desired behaviour is displayed
- When he/she demonstrates positive behaviour, give him/her positive feedback in a private setting right away
- Tell him/her what you noticed and the positive impact on the team
- Be willing to accept their response
- Be okay with the fact the he/she may not like your new demands and may choose to leave the organization
- Celebrate his/her success when the positive change becomes consistent
What I have learned over the years is that “bratty” behaviours usually emanate from a place of low self-esteem. The key to behavioural change is to provide the individual with a new way of being. Sometimes people do want to change, they just do not know how. Help be the instigator of change. Help to be the person that says “no” to bad behaviour. Help turn your colleague from terror to terrific!