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Organizations face a tough challenge when key employees exhibit disruptive behavior. Also known as top contributors, these employees possess specialized knowledge or skills that are critical to the …

Organizations face a tough challenge when key employees exhibit disruptive behavior. Also known as top contributors, these employees possess specialized knowledge or skills that are critical to the success of the business or manage important clients or large accounts that might be lost if they left. Their actions have a direct impact on the bottom line. In some cases, particularly in small and medium-sized firms, they can lead to resounding success or business closure. How can organizations effectively manage these key contributors when they become disruptive?

In this seminar, you will learn:

Why prevalent approaches to managing disruptive key employees don’t work
The proven, effective approach to managing key employees
Levels of intervention in managing disruptive key employees
Skills for implementing the effective approach
Where to find specialized help in managing disruptive key contributors
How to create an environment that discourages disruptive behavior
Who will benefit from this seminar?
Supervisors, managers, directors, executives, board members, HR professionals, executive/business coaches, trainers, organization development practitioners, labor attorneys, and other organizational leaders stand to benefit immensely from this seminar.
What is included?

Audiovisual presentation – Text, audio, video, charts, pictures and other graphics are used to explain concepts and practical steps that you can immediately apply in your workplace. Feature presentation is designed in PowerPoint.
Audio version - Pop audio version of the presentation into a CD player or load it on to an iPod to reinforce learning.
Audio script – The scripts for the audio presentation are attached.
Presentation in PDF – Presentation is also attached in PDF format.
Learning aids, forms, templates, handouts and other resources.
Author contact nformation

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  • Managing Disruptive Key Employees Organizations face a tough challenge when key employees exhibit disruptive behavior. Also known as top contributors, these employees possess specialized knowledge and skills that are critical to the success of the business. Left unchecked, disruptive behaviors erode morale, stifle productivity, and create other serious adverse outcomes for the business. How does your organization respond when a key contributor repeatedly behaves badly? Written by Peter Adebi, leadership coach, author and founder of Star Leadership ® , this seminar, Managing Disruptive Key Employees , shows you an effective approach to managing disruptive heavy weights in your organization. Get ready to have a rewarding experience in how to manage some of your most difficult assets.
  • Agenda In this seminar, we will examine the following broad topics: Disruptive employees: who they are, what they do and their impact on the organization. Common approaches to managing disruptive key employees. Why the common or prevalent approaches to managing disruptive key employees are ineffective.
  • Continuing with our agenda, we will Explore in detail, a proven, effective approach to managing disruptive key employees. Examine levels of intervention in dealing with them. Review what it takes in terms of skills and resources to effectively manage disruptive key employees. And, explore the role of culture in creating an environment that fosters desired behaviors in the workplace. If you are ready, let us begin.
  • Disruptive Employees Disruptive employees are those whose pattern of behavior interferes with an organization’s ability to develop and deliver its products and/or services in an efficient and effective manner. A key phrase to note in this definition is “pattern of behavior”. Most employees will occasionally exhibit behavior that might be described as disruptive. However, these employees generally respond to feedback. They also do not form a habit of acting in a disruptive manner. A disruptive employee typically persists in his or her ways despite receiving repeated feedback from coworkers or supervisor. Most continue to exhibit destructive behavior even when their negative impact on themselves, their coworkers, productivity, and other aspects of the organization is obvious.
  • Key Employees Key employees or top contributors include those who: possess specialized knowledge or critical skills (for instance, a renown lawyer, highly specialized surgeon, prolific writer or gifted software developer); hold important leadership positions (for example, vice presidents, chief operating officers, chief financial officers, and other senior members of an organization); manage important clients or large accounts that might be lost if they left (these include your successful sales people and fund managers); or have an ownership stake in the business. The actions of top contributors have the potential to impact the direction, strategic goals or earning potential of a business. In some cases, particularly in small and medium-sized firms, they can lead to resounding success or business failure. Our challenge is to give you guidance on how to effectively manage key contributors if they become disruptive. Before we tackle the challenge, let’s identify these disruptive behaviors so we can easily recognize them in our organizations.
  • Categories of Disruptive Behavior a. Excessive self-centeredness The workplace demands collaboration with others. It takes a team to put together and deliver any worthwhile service or product. While individuals should take charge of their careers and be their own best advocates, an overly self-centered person is very difficult to get along with for one or more of the following reasons: 1. Unhealthy fixation on title, skills, connections, etc . Frequently, other people around the fixated employee do not share the fixation. This is frustrating for the disruptive employee as others appear to not be supportive of him or her. This frustration in turn leads to more obsessive behavior to demonstrate why the object of fixation is important. If the employee can’t have their way, they might go to extreme lengths, including withdrawing or limiting effort, undermining business processes and procedures, crossing ethical boundaries, or sabotaging the business to register their frustration. 2. Thinks more of self than ought to. Another word for this set of behaviors is arrogance. These employees typically walk around with outsized egos. They might represent themselves as more than they actually are. They take offence when their viewpoint is not accepted by others or treated as the dominant viewpoint. They crave the spotlight and would step on others to obtain it. They frequently fail to give credit to others. From their viewpoint, the world revolves around them. It’s always about them. Some of the employees in this category go on to be diagnosed with and treated for narcissism or obsessive-compulsive disorders.
  • Categories of Disruptive Behavior II b. Excessive control It’s one thing to have a manager who does not recognize your strengths and wants to provide direction in every decision that you should make. It’s a whole different challenge when you have a key member of an organization who demands painful details of every person’s work, assigns or delegates work but fails to allow the freedom or flexibility to make decisions relevant to accomplishing the work, interrupts frequently to assess progress and give additional direction, and calls at odd hours of day and on days off to follow up. Many top contributors who exhibit these behaviors tend to be perfectionists. The driving force for most perfectionists is the need to avoid being wrong. For anything to be done correctly from their vantage point, it has to be done either by them or precisely their way. They often come across as rigid or stubborn, contemptuous of others who don't share their beliefs, and self-righteous. A statement by someone who used to struggle with this behavior speaks volumes of their world view: “If I want your opinion, I will give it to you.” When they can’t have their way or delegated work is not completed to their expectation they can become harshly critical, aggressive, and inpatient. Others engage in this disruptive behavior due to their perception of the quality of the people around them, a personal struggle with trusting others or other insecurities. Employees who work with such disruptors describe the experience as torturous and disempowering. In extreme cases, people who are excessively controlling might do so as a result of a personality disorder known as Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder or OCPD. While this seminar is not about diagnosing personality disorders, we will learn how to determine if the disruptive key employee in your organization needs help beyond what you as a manager or human resource professional can offer.
  • Categories of Disruptive Behavior III c. Disrespectful behaviors Disrespectful behaviors manifest in different forms. We have attempted to group them in order of severity. Negative behaviors. These are generally behaviors that undermine team cohesion, staff morale, self-worth and safety. They are inappropriate, dishonest or unethical conduct often intended to control, humiliate, denigrate or injure the self-esteem, dignity and reputation of others. Scape-goating, backstabbing, perpetuating rumors, nonproductive forms of conflict resolution, repeated failure to respond to a call, lack of regard for others’ opinion, preferences, and cultural heritage, are examples of negative behaviors in the workplace. Verbal Abuse. Profanity, demeaning comments, intimidating language, yelling, devaluing, discouraging, condescending language or voice intonation, impatience with questions or phone calls, reprimanding a coworker in front of others, verbal threats, racial or ethnic jokes are examples of verbal abuse. In a survey of 13,000 physicians and nurses by the American College of Physician Executives, 97 percent of respondents reported disruptive behavior by both doctors and nurses. Identified by 84.5 percent of respondents, verbal abuse in the form of “degrading comments and insults” was the most common type of problem behavior. Yelling was a close second at 73.3 percent. This survey was conducted between July 9 and Aug. 10, 2009. [Source:] Do not read source Physical Abuse. This includes assault and battery, throwing objects (instruments or writing materials), and outbursts of rage or violence such as hitting the wall or a coworker or making threatening or intimidating gestures. According to the United States Department of Justice, 1.7 million incidents of workplace violence occur in the US every year. What is the workplace violence statistic in your country? If one of your key employees unleashed violence on a coworker, what would be the impact on your organization? One of the reasons we emphasize taking immediate and deliberate action to manage disruptive behavior is that violence is usually a culmination of a series of less severe problematic behaviors the effective management of which prevents escalation. Sexual Abuse. Sexual jokes and innuendoes, repeated inappropriate sexual advances, unwelcome touching, groping, fondling, and quid pro quo sexual harassment are types of sexual abuse. The fact that sexual harassment lawsuits are among the most expensive suits employers face provides impetus for organizations to address the behaviors of sexual predators in a prompt manner.
  • Consequences of disruptive behavior The consequences of condoning a disruptive key employee are enormous and far-reaching. The disruptor infects your business much like arsenic corrodes the human body. He or she eats away at morale, productivity, employee retention and even your brand reputation.  In North America, on average, every employee that leaves in order to avoid a disruptor costs a business at least $10,000 to replace and train. The potential for error and poor judgment escalates under pressure from a disruptor. In a 2003 survey by the Institute for Safe Medical Practices, 49% of clinicians felt pressured to dispense or administer a drug despite serious and unresolved safety concerns — and 40% have kept quiet rather than question a known intimidator. [Source -] Do not read source Disruptors damage your brand or reputation in the marketplace when customers or ex-employees complain publicly. Some of the lawsuits that result from their actions wipe out profits, political capital and reputation that took years to build. If unchecked, and depending on their role in an organization, their actions have the potential to sink a business. In light of these consequences, Star Leadership® strongly recommends early intervention in managing disruptive key employees. Typically, the longer you wait to deal with a disruptive behavior, the more you have to lose. Organizations that can identify and deal with disruptive behaviors and performance problems at the earliest stages not only save themselves a considerable amount of time and money but also mitigate risk. Let’s begin to take a look at the types of intervention that organizations put in place to manage disruptors.
  • Managing Disruptive Behavior The wishful approach How do managers in your organization respond when they are told the broker managing your largest portfolio cannot keep support staff longer than three months because her constant hovering suffocates them; that your wiz programmer, the person you are depending on to lead the effort in designing your next big software, threw his team into a tizzy when he smashed his blackberry in a fit of fury; or that your world-class, prodigiously talented surgeon has, again, unleashed a profanity-laden tirade on his secretary? Many managers tend to pamper, give in to or make excuses for the disruptive top contributor. They do this primarily due to fear of losing a key member of the organization. However, inaction, evasion, excuses or wishing poor behavior would resolve itself are unproductive and expensive responses. Testifying before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), William L. Bransford, partner in the Washington, D.C., based law firm of Shaw, Bransford, Veilleux & Roth, noted that “inaction is the worst course because future actions to deal with a continuing problem will be more difficult, and avoidance contributes to the workplace and public perception that problem employees are tolerated” (September 7, 2006). Perceptions of avoidance, or preferential or disparate treatment, detract from management’s credibility. They erode trust, fracture teams, foment disloyalty and can lead to charges of unlawful discrimination. Meanwhile, disruptors continue to plough down the path of destructive behavior. The benefits of early intervention are lost with this approach.
  • Managing Disruptive Behavior II b. The beaten path Many conscientious leaders will not allow an out-of-control disruptor to continue unaddressed. Besides, ever increasing legal risks, pressure from coworkers and sometimes other stakeholders, and evidence of negative consequences to the organization might not permit leaders to ignore destructive behavior for too long. Feedback. The typical first step to correcting problem behavior is to provide feedback. The manager or supervisor of the employee attempts to make him or her aware of the impact of his or her behavior on others or on the business. Depending on the proficiency level of the person giving the feedback, the recipient might leave the meeting with an understanding of the unacceptable behavior, the impact it had on others, and clear direction of how to act or behave in the future in a similar situation. Counseling. This is generally an organization’s formal, progressive disciplinary process. For disruptors who fall into the aforementioned categories - excessive self-centeredness, excessive control, and disrespectful behavior – it’s almost a given that one or two or even more feedback sessions will not yield the desired behavior change. In the vast majority of organizations, formal counseling is the next level of intervention. This typically starts with verbal or written counseling that outlines expectations, timelines during which the expectations should be met, and consequences if stated goals or expectations are not met. Such consequences include demotion, salary reduction, mandatory transfer, removal of access or privileges, suspension without pay, and eventually termination of employment. Counseling draws a line in the sand. It sends an unequivocal message to the disruptive employee that the organization will no longer tolerate unacceptable behavior. These employees can be exceptionally frustrating to management and co-workers; therefore, treating them on the basis of lex talionis that is, the law of retribution, evokes a sense of justice in coworkers. Whether they change or leave the organization, forcing such disruptors to experience how it feels to have other people bear down on them can be gratifying to their victims and to worn-down management. On the flip side, the adversarial, threatening, punitive and coercive nature of disciplinary measures may adversely impact many of the very attributes that make your top contributors unique and optimally effective. Relentless drive, unwavering commitment, curiosity, passion and courage--the qualities that enable them to harvest their genius--can be quelled by an adversarial relationship with leadership. This would not pose much of a concern if you were dealing with your average worker. But the organization suffers when top contributors are demotivated. Whatever the underlying cause of disruptive behavior might be, ego plays a role in its emergence and over time, dominance. In the right amount, ego enables us to achieve a healthy level of confidence and self-awareness. Too little of it produces indifference, fear and insecurity. Too much gives rise to arrogance, over-ambition and a bloated sense of superiority. In the words of David Marcum and Steven Smith, partners at the management consulting firm MarcumSmith, LC, and authors of Egonomics, “Ego’s power is pervasive and relentless, but never neutral in how it affects our performance” (Marcum & Smith, 2007). According to this breakthrough work, ego is the unseen profit-and-loss line item that influences individual and organizational success the most. Therefore, managing its intense power and balancing it with humility, veracity and curiosity should be a priority for workers and their employers (Marcum & Smith, 2006). Discipline can be an effective ego buster, but because of the nature of excessive ego, the counselee or disruptor is unlikely to listen and cooperate, let alone deal effectively with a bloated sense of humiliation. Since insecurity and low self-esteem can also lead to disruptive behavior (e.g., difficulty letting go, need to control every detail), punishment is unlikely to create the desired self-awareness or instill confidence. Moreover, a quick transition to punitive measures might cause disruptive key contributors to respond in like manner. They might confirm your worst fears by mobilizing their talent, network and other resources against your organization.
  • Thank you for previewing this self-directed seminar. We design and deliver custom seminars and high-impact organizational interventions. To order this or other personal, leadership or organization development seminar, visit Star Leadership® at You may also contact us by email. Our email address is [email_address] , that is, [email_address]
  • Transcript

    • 1. By Peter Adebi 856-258-9022 Preview
    • 2.
      • Disruptive employees: who they are, what they do
      • Common approaches to managing disruptive key employees
      • Why prevalent approaches to managing disruptive key employees are ineffective
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 3.
      • The proven, effective approach to managing disruptive key employees
      • Levels of intervention in managing disruptive key employees
      • How to create an environment that promotes desired behavior
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 4.
      • Disruptive employees are those whose pattern of behavior interferes with an organization’s ability to develop and deliver its products and/or services in an efficient and effective manner.
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 5.
      • Possess critical knowledge or skills
      • Hold important leadership position
      • Manage important clients or accounts
      • Have an ownership stake in business
      Also known as top contributors, key employees include those who: Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 6.
      • Excessive self-centeredness
      • Unhealthy fixation on title, skills, connections, etc. Manipulates others, systems to achieve personal goals.
      • Thinks more of self than ought to–Ignores input that does not align with personal views.
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 7.
      • Excessive control
      • Show a tendency to micromanage or control every detail of assigned work.
      • Have little regard for work-life boundary.
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 8.
      • Disrespectful
      • behavior
      • Negative behaviors
      • Verbal Abuse
      • Physical Abuse
      • Sexual Abuse
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 9.
      • Low morale
      • Dissatisfied workers
      • Loss of talent
      • Expensive lawsuits
      • Dysfunctional teams
      • Compromised quality
      • Business failure
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 10.
      • The wishful approach
      • Yield to or make excuses for the disruptive key employee
      • Do nothing and hope the disruptive behaviors go away
      • Avoid speaking with the parties or listening to aggrieved workers
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 11.
      • The beaten path
      • (path of discipline)
          • Feedback
          • Counseling
      Managing Disruptive Key Employees Copyright ® Star Leadership, Inc. Preview
    • 12. Next Steps Contact author: Preview