- HR Headaches
- How to manage a prima donna at work (and other difficult staff)
The definition of a prima donna is this: the chief female singer in an opera. Quite literally the star of the show. Ambitious, overly confident and brilliant, a prima donna can be the most difficult staff member to handle because they really do bring that much value to the company (and they know it).
We’ve all worked with the prima donna, that one team member who won’t follow the rules, or believes they are so valuable that the rules don’t apply to them. A product designer, a lead seller or mechanic who can fix anything. If left to their own devices, the prima donna could drive everyone a little crazy with their unreasonable demands or hard to handle personality.
How do I manage these difficult staff?
For starters we can take a leaf out of Watford FC’s book. Sunday saw the firing of super talented Head Coach Marco Silva, swiftly followed by the hiring of Javi Gracia, also on Sunday. Clearly Watford had a plan, and have been widely (though not universally) praised for having dealt with their situation so well.
Why is this football news a good example?
A) The team has shown that they’ve planned for the worst. They’ve expected a high coach turnover and placed less responsibility with the role compared to other teams.
The thinking behind this is to protect the stability of the team as a whole (whilst letting the star shine at whatever they’re brilliant at), so when there’s a change of coach, the ripples through the club aren’t so strong that they knock the whole operation off balance.
B) They plugged the gap so fast the rest of the team didn’t have time to blink let alone contend with a leaderless period of uncertainty. After all, the show must go on.
You might be thinking, “that’s fine in the F.C, but in the normal world, it’s not conceivable to have a replacement interviewed, prepped and on stand-by ready to go”, and you might well be right. These actions would run the risk of contending with a costly legal dispute, from a disgruntled ex-employee claiming unfair dismissal. But there are other great ways to plan ahead and precautions you can take to minimise any damage should you get to the dismissal stages (and with a bit of thinking ahead, it’s much less likely to happen).
We’ve compiled a round up to help you in the right direction.
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