How to manage a ‘high-drama’ employee

How to manage a ‘high-drama’ employee

Q. I have a high-performing but high-drama employee, how should I manage them?

A. Most employers will admit that if an employee is performing well they will be willing to overlook minor workplace issues for the good of the business.

However, continuing to enable disruptive and unprofessional behaviour from ‘high-drama’ individuals could prove to be detrimental in the long run.

Therefore, when it comes to managing high-performing, but high-drama individuals you should refrain from treating them more favourably than other colleagues by holding them to the same standard as the rest of your workforce.

Keep in mind that showing favouritism is unlikely to go down well and can be an easy way to make the rest of your staff turn against you.

Individuals should be held equally accountable when it comes to issues such as attendance, lateness and workplace behaviour.

While you may be keen to reward an employee who is performing well with a promotion or a monetary bonus, consider whether their success may be masking significant failings in other areas and factor this into your decision making.

As with most complex issues it will be important to sit down and speak with the individual if they are causing disruption at work.

Bear in mind that they may not necessarily be aware of their behaviour and how this is coming across.

This is more likely to be the case with any recent additions, as individuals can often bring old habits with them from their previous place of work that do not align with your company culture. As such, it will be important to explain to them any issues they may be creating.

During these discussions it may come to light that their tendency for ‘drama’ may in fact be down to ongoing issues in their personal life, in which case you should look to support them as far as reasonably possible.

Alternatively, their behaviour may be linked to an underlying mental health or neurodivergent condition such as depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

If this is the case, reasonable adjustments are likely to be needed to accommodate the employee and ensure you are protected from claims of disability discrimination. The hope will be that these measures will help rein in the employee’s behaviour without impacting on their performance.

While you may be likely to give high-performing employees more leeway than others, there may come a point where their behaviour is no longer sustainable.

In this situation you may decide, albeit reluctantly, to begin disciplinary proceedings against them. 

However, for your own sake you will need to be certain that their misconduct is not a consequence of any disability before taking action.