How do you deal with a control freak in your company?

If an employee abuses the power given to him, which is steadying the growth of the company. How do you deal/cope with him? Firing him at the moment would not be an option as he is the top trained engineer by the company.


There is likely a lot of background to this question, so it's difficult to answer online with one specific solution.

To begin, "control freak" and "abuse of power" can be quite subjective terms. Objectively, in what ways do you feel he is overstepping his authority? Is this a recent event, or an ongoing concern? Has he been formally spoken to or reprimanded by senior management in the past about this behaviour?

Hopefully your organization has policies in place to address behaviour like this. Setting clear expectations around what is and isn't acceptable, and turning to progressive discipline if necessary, often help the employee to understand the outcomes (possible suspension, demotion, termination etc), should they continue down this path.

It's important however to first understand and deal with the root cause of this behaviour, not just the symptoms. Speak with the individual candidly and honestly, and ask them if they feel it's appropriate to behave like this, and try to reveal WHY it's happening. Perhaps they're having difficulties in their personal life, or they're stressed at work. Be respectful, and work with them as best you can.

If you would like additional help, please arrange a call with me. I would be very happy to help you get through this in a way that is best for the employee, and your company.

Answered 11 years ago

Culture of any company is defined by its leadership. Allowing an employee to speak disrespectfully or act in a way that demoralizes other contributors has to be dealt with quickly and specifically.

This person must be given specific examples of behaviour that leadership is saying is not acceptable and that any further actions like those examples will result in their immediate termination.

It doesn't matter that this person is a top contributor. You are doing far more harm to the long-term value of your company by allowing such behaviour to be tolerated.

Good leaders never live in fear of their employees (e.g what if this person leaves?). If anything employees should fear failing to live up to the expectations set by leadership.

A company should have one set of non negotiable rules that *everyone* must adhere to or face the *same* consequences.

There should be a lot of flexibility in any company especially a startup bit your non-negotiables must be firm.

This person might be the top-trained but isn't worth keeping around if they can't adhere to the rules.

There is a bigger issue here which is the way that you or your CEO is running the company. Put simply, you can't live in fear of your technical talent. Your company will always be limited in its success in this scenario. I can help you define the language, rules and cultural DNA you or your leadership requires to be effective, recruit great talent and have a cohesive, enjoyable work environment.

Answered 11 years ago

I think communication is going to be key. Most of the time based on what you are saying you are dealing with an A personality who is more focused on results rather than the office politics.

Since control is the issue you may consider defining the employees job role better so he/she understands what they should be delegating. If they can't delegate properly without being overbearing then you need to work with them to help them understand the issue. Begin by asking if they trust the other employees at the company. This question will be alarming to the employee to the extent they will know something is wrong, and that is GOOD because it provides an opportunity to open up communication issues to help solve the identified problem.

The A personalities tend to be so results driven that they don't even notice their controlling nature.

I would follow that up by coaching the employee weekly and sitting in silently on meetings with the employee and their subordinates so you can see first hand what is going on. Then hold debriefing meetings with gentle nudges in the right direction.

On the side burner, develop a company mission statement with input from employees but make sure collaboration and positive team synergy hit the list as top priorities over bottom line results.

If the employee continues to ignore the signs being sent out and is resistant to your coaching meetings, I would consider actively managing them out or even asking what their career goals are to see if they align with your companies' needs any longer.

Having a key player being a control freak can easily demotivate the rest of the team and also lead to turnover issues, so I would avoid sitting on the problem just because they are "vital" to the organization.

Don't forget, everyone is replaceable. Just a matter of how much time it takes to properly plan a transition..

I would be happy to hop on a call to discuss further and see if there are other strategies that may work based on a more detailed description of what the employee is controlling about and what kinds of ripples that is causing.

Answered 9 years ago

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