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How to: Work with an egoist

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We’ve all been there - you invested into establishing a great group of team players, but you get that one rotten apple. The one that disrupts the dynamics by bringing an unjustified self-appreciation on board - the egoist.

Working at one of Serbia’s leading agribusiness companies with over 1,600 employees, Marina Babić Walton, compensations and benefits expert at Victoria Group shared that one of the best ways to minimise the ego-impact on a well-run team is to practice controlled inclusion.

Speaking to Human Resources, she said: “Egoists must be allowed to understand that you, as a leader, accept differences and don’t necessarily expect them to get along with everyone.”

“On the other hand, some behaviours are simply not a practice in your team, and it’ll be their lives that get easier the sooner they accept this,” she added.

With that said, Walton shares her expert tips on how to work with an egoist:

  • Controlled inclusion first starts off by encouraging the egoist to participate in regular team meetings, even if they feel otherwise initially.
  • Next, when it comes to giving recognition during meetings, highlight the individual’s accomplishment publically. For example, “Smith has finished the project; Jane has delivered great results even before the deadline; and Josh has proved to be a reliable pillar of our department.”
  • On the other hand, provide criticism in the form of guidance. Make it a one-to-one feedback session that addresses the issues with high level of empathy. This allows the egoist to understand that transparency is paramount to you - but so is confidentiality.
  • As a leader, you are responsible to boost your people’s self-image for realistic reasons that are based on facts and details. Hence, measurable information is important during feedback. For example, “You have dealt with the issue X in a way that resulted in Y – which is very satisfying/needs correction.”
  • Never leave the egoist with room for interpretation and bear in mind of their deep need to keep their shield up.
Balton also highlighted that the team might have already selected one person to gain the egoist’s trust. Usually it’s someone that gets along well with everyone. She said: “This person would not feed the egoist’s illusions of being better than else. Rather, they would make the first step to include the egoist into social aspects of work.”

According to her, other team members would then follow suit, resulting in the egoist feeling more part of a well formed social group. Once feeling accepted to the team, it’s going to be difficult to get back to the old habit of looking down on people.

How To is a new column borne out of the findings from our HR Readers Survey. From diplomatically confronting that food-thief at work to integrating a painfully shy staff, this column is a handy guide to get you through the challenges of HR.

If you have any How-To questions from the HR point of view, do send them in to [email protected] - we look forward to hearing from you!

Photo / 123RF

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