Every office has a Karen.

She means well, but she is also convinced that her opinion is infallible… holy even.

If left to her own devices, Karen can quickly cause mayhem in the office. She will organize toward mutiny. Her followers will die in the name of her crusade to remove “problematic labeling” from 8 years of tax records.

What if I told you it’s possible to not only keep Karen at bay, but to actually make her useful? Imagine the improvement in office morale, the impeccable chain of command, and a team that is never duped into marching in some idiotic direction.

Karen is not evil incarnate, as hard as that may be to believe. She’s simply an insecure force of nature that needs to be brought to heel. Once she’s on your side, you will be thrilled to have her around.

Even better… dealing with employees who want to run the show is not all that hard to accomplish. Let’s dive in.

The Unruly Prologue: Harnessing Ambition without Sacrificing Harmony

Picture this: Karen comes armed with a clipboard and enough unsolicited advice to fill a server farm. She’s the self-appointed CEO of every project she sniffs out, a walking, talking embodiment of ambition on steroids.

Karen is the kind of person who doesn’t climb the corporate ladder – she builds her own. And if you’re not careful, she’ll build it over your back.

Here’s the kicker: Karen could be your most valuable player or your most destructive force. Left unchecked, her brand of ambition can spread like wildfire, scorching company morale and productivity in a blaze of glory-seeking. Imagine team projects hijacked, meetings turned into monologues, and the general sense of teamwork reduced to ashes because Karen’s always trying to “save the day” – her way.

A Possible and Productive Reframe

But what if we stopped trying to extinguish that fire and instead, stoked it within the right bounds? What if dealing with employees who want to run the show meant, paradoxically, giving them a part of the show to run?

Think about it: channeling that enthusiasm could turn company quagmires into frontiers of innovation. An employee with drive, once a liability, could be the battering ram against the status quo, breaking through barriers that others don’t even question.

The Roadmap: How to Deal with Bad Employees

Follow along and we will learn to detect the signs of an overzealous employee – like the classic “I’ve got a small suggestion” turning into a complete overhaul. We’ll learn how to deal with bad employees by dissecting their motivations – from insecurity to the intoxicating high of control.

Next up, we’ll lay down the concrete strategies that transform potential office drama into dynamic team workflow play. From setting boundaries that empower rather than restrict, to constructive communication that turns conflicts into collaborative opportunities.

Get ready for a masterclass on how to manage someone who doesn’t want to be managed by learning the delicate art of turning office insurgents into institutional innovators. Buckle up — we’re about to turn Karen’s clipboard into the holy grail.

an orderly corporate office

Office Rebellion: Spotting and Dealing with Employees Who Want to Run the Show

In the ecosystem of office dynamics, there’s a particular species that stands out: the over-ambitious employee. They’re not hard to spot; they’re the ones perpetually pushing their agenda, often with a fervor that can either ignite innovation or incinerate it.

Enthusiasm Overload

They’re the first to jump at opportunities – their hands shoot up like they’re trying to high-five the stratosphere.

  • Positive: This can translate to an infectious zeal that propels projects forward.
  • Negative: It can also steamroll others’ ideas and input, leading to a one-person show.

Decision Making

They make choices swiftly, which is sometimes like a breath of fresh air in the stale air of indecision.

  • Positive: Quick decisions can mean swift action and progress.
  • Negative: When it’s their way riding shotgun, every other route gets sidelined. The decisions made also might not make the most sense.

Feedback & Critique

They give feedback liberally but often build fortresses around their own work, deflecting critique.

  • Positive: They can offer valuable insights and improvements.
  • Negative: Their defensive stance can create an ‘us vs. them’ environment.

Initiative on Steroids

They’re the first in line when it comes to taking on new challenges.

  • Positive: This initiative can lead to growth and learning.
  • Negative: They might bite off more than they can chew, leaving a wake of half-finished tasks.

Recognizing the patterns is crucial – it’s a thin line between a go-getter and a too-far-gone.

Dealing with employees who want to run the show isn’t about putting out their fire. It’s about giving them a fireplace so the whole house doesn’t burn down.

The forthcoming sections will dish out the reality sandwich on how to manage someone who doesn’t want to be managed. We’re talking channeling their ambition, fine-tuning their focus, and integrating their strengths into the fabric of your team without letting them pull at the seams.

The Drive Behind the Coup

There’s a ticking heart inside every office insurgent, a cocktail of desires and fears fueling their daily coup. But why do some employees feel the itch to steer the ship, even when they’re not the captain?

Let’s dissect the psychological underbelly of this workplace phenomenon and how to deal with bad employees:

  • The Recognition Junkie: For some, the office is a stage, and every day is an audition for applause. Recognition is their drug of choice.
    • Underneath: Often, it’s a mask for insecurity. They crave external validation to silence the internal critic whispering they’re not enough.
  • The Control Freak: They’ve got a love affair with certainty. If they’re not holding the reins, how can they be sure the ride won’t go off track?
    • Underneath: It’s fear talking, dressed up as assertiveness. Control is their safety net from the unpredictability of life (and work).
  • The Perfectionist: If they want something done right (read: their way), they’ll do it themselves—or make sure everyone else does.
    • Underneath: It’s about trust, or the lack thereof. Their past may be a mural of letdowns, teaching them that reliance is a fool’s errand.
  • Visionaries with Blinders: They’ve got a vision. The. Vision. And they’ll pursue it with the tenacity of a bulldog on a bone.
    • Underneath: The need to enact change can stem from previous environments where they felt stifled or unheard.
  • Power Playing: They’re after the throne, not because they love the kingdom, but because they love the crown.
    • Underneath: It could be ambition, pure and simple. Or perhaps a compensation for feeling powerless in other spheres of their life.

Empathy and Strategy

Recognizing the drive behind the ambition is half the battle when dealing with employees who want to run the show. The other half? Channelling that drive so it doesn’t run you over.

Insecurity and the craving for recognition are potent fuels for our office rebels. Their previous experiences, the battles they’ve fought and lost, the times their voices have been drowned out—these are the ghosts that linger in the boardroom, whispering strategies of takeover.

Navigating these turbulent waters requires more than a managerial manual; it requires psychological savvy—a combination of empathy and strategy.

By understanding the complex human machinery at work, we can start to see that dealing with employees who want to run the show isn’t just about clamping down on a rebellion. It’s about understanding the rebels and redirecting their energy to empower the entire empire. How to deal with bad employees? See them for what they are: complex human beings.

conversation with an employee

The Conversation Tactics: Dealing with Employees Who Want to Run the Show

It’s a fact: most people suck at confrontation. But when you’re dealing with employees who want to run the show, it’s not about silencing them—it’s about tuning them.

So, let’s talk strategy on how to manage someone who doesn’t want to be managed:

  1. Crystal-Clear Job Descriptions
    • No fluffy language. No vague deliverables. Make each role in your team as clear as a bell. Employees like Karen need to see the box to think outside of it, but not live outside of it.
  2. Boundaries That Aren’t Suggestions
    • Boundaries should be treated like company law. They’re not there for decoration. When employees step out of line, it’s not personal; it’s a matter of protocol. Reinforce them consistently.
  3. Channeling Their Energy
    • Recognize your employee’s drive and give it a playground. Tasks that require leadership and initiative should have their name on them, keeping them busy with challenges worthy of their ambition.
  4. Regular, Structured Feedback
    • Make feedback sessions regular like clockwork and as straightforward as a grocery list. Highlight what’s working and what’s not with the precision of a laser-guided missile.
  5. De-escalation Skills for Oversteps
    • When dealing with employees who overstep, stay cool. Approach the situation with a clear head and a firm stance. It’s not about the mistake; it’s about the correction.
  6. Autonomy within Accountability
    • Give them the freedom to make decisions, but tie those decisions to clear accountability. Autonomy does not mean anarchy. It means making choices within a framework that benefits the whole team.
  7. Recognition That Redirects
    • When your employee nails it, say it loud and clear. Positive reinforcement can often redirect a desire for control into paths of constructive leadership.
  8. Information is Humbling
    • Let’s say a new hot shot comes onto the trading floor in your investment firm. The easiest way to show them how little they know will be to assign them a pile of trading courses to digest. This will force them to recognize how much they have to learn.

Dealing with employees who want to run the show requires a balance of firmness and finesse. You want to stoke the fire of their ambition without letting it burn through the office’s morale. Through clear job roles, prioritizing team workflow, implementing solid boundaries, and providing targeted feedback, you can guide these office insurgents into becoming indispensable leaders.

Communication: Channeling the Charge

Navigating a conversation with someone who’s got enough drive to power a small city takes more than your average talk. With employees like Karen, who’s already five steps ahead—possibly in a different direction—you need to harness that momentum without snuffing out the spark.

How to deal with bad employees? Here’s the tactical guide to channeling that charge:

  • Keep It Real and Respectful
    • Example Dialogue: “Your insights are often ahead of the curve, which is great. Let’s align them more closely with the team’s current objectives and consensus.”
    • Tip: Honesty doesn’t have to be brutal. Keep it real, but lace it with respect. They need to hear the truth, especially when they’re off-course, but in a way that respects their drive.
  • Consistency is Key in Feedback
    • Make feedback sessions as regular as the heartbeat of your business. This isn’t about putting them on a leash; it’s about giving her a tempo to march to that syncs with the rest of the team.
    • Tip: Balance your feedback. Highlight their wins as much as their areas for growth.
  • Decision-Making: Controlled Collaborations
    • Involve them in decision-making, but set clear parameters. Think of it as collaborative improv; allow them to riff, but within the theme of the show.
    • Tip: Assign them a voice in the areas where their strengths can shine and benefit the team. It gives them a sense of ownership and a constructive outlet for their take-charge nature.
  • Navigate the Pushback with Patience
    • When you redirect or correct them, be prepared for some pushback. It’s not about combat; it’s about steering that stubborn energy to a common goal.
    • Tip: Listen to their objections, validate the emotions behind them, but stand firm on the course you’ve set. It’s a dance, not a wrestling match.
  • Encourage Listening as a Two-Way Street
    • Often, these types of people are so used to driving the conversation, they forget to ride along with others’ ideas. Encourage active listening as a leadership skill they need to develop.
    • Tip: Frame it as a challenge: “Can you distill what Greg’s main concerns are and reflect them back to him?” Turn listening into an active, engaging task for them.

Dealing with employees who want to run the show isn’t about dimming their ambition; it’s about directing it in a way that benefits everyone. Clear, honest, and respectful communication—coupled with strategic inclusion in decision-making—can transform these individuals from a one-person show to becoming a lead player in a well-oiled machine.

an effective employee case study

Dealing with Employees Who Want to Run the Show: Case Study

Let’s zero in on ‘Casey’ – not her real name, but her story? It’s as real as the burnout you feel after a marathon meeting with someone who has monopolized the conversation since “hello.”

Casey was your classic front-runner, always a step ahead – sometimes too far ahead for her own good. Her ambition was like a chainsaw in a balloon shop: potent but in the wrong setting.

How to Manage Someone Who Doesn’t Want to Be Managed

Step 1: The Call-Out

  • Example: Casey’s got a rocket engine for a mind, but this is a team mission, and you need all systems in sync.
  • Suggested Dialogue: “Your leadership potential is evident, but let’s focus on how it can lift the entire team.”

Step 2: The Redirect

  • Casey’s knack for marketing was undeniable, so she was given the reins of a floundering campaign that needed a shot of adrenaline.
  • Example: Instead of letting her run rampant, guidelines were set to channel her energies constructively.

Step 3: The Feedback Loop

  • Regular, no-BS feedback sessions were introduced. Not just a rundown of her performance, but a real, raw look at how her actions affected the team.
  • Suggested Dialogue: “When you nail a presentation, it’s a win for us all. But when you go rogue, it’s a setback for the team. Let’s find a balance.”

Step 4: The Collaboration Challenge

  • Casey was paired with different team members for various projects, encouraging her to harmonize her rhythm with others.
  • Example: The shy programmer became her project partner, and eventually, her tempering counterpart.

Step 5: The Recognition Rebalance

  • Successes were celebrated – but always within the context of team effort. Casey’s contributions were spotlighted alongside her collaborators.
  • Suggested Dialogue: “Casey, your strategy was killer, and Tom’s execution was the perfect accomplice. This is a dream team in action.”

Step 6: The Responsibility Realignment

  • She was offered a position that required a blend of independence and teamwork, one that capitalized on her strengths but also hinged on collaborative success.
  • Example: Leading a cross-departmental initiative, Casey had to tune her strategies to the tempo of multiple teams, not just her own beat.

The metamorphosis? Casey went from a would-be autocrat to a democratic leader. On top of that, leadership learned that dealing with employees who want to run the show doesn’t mean curbing enthusiasm but harmonizing individual strengths with the collective effort. How to manage someone who doesn’t want to be managed is not some vague mystery. It just takes integrity and willingness to implement what needs to be implemented.

happy workplace

The Afterword: Absorbing the Shockwaves

Dealing with employees who want to run the show isn’t just a daily grind; it’s the stuff great leaders are made of. This isn’t about damage control; it’s about energy conversion.

Key Takeaways

  • The office maverick, the overzealous employee, the one who chomps at the bit for more power – they’re not just hurdles in your managerial track. They’re opportunities disguised in a lot of initiative.
  • Rechanneling this force doesn’t just prevent office mutiny; it propels the entire ship forward. It’s the difference between a staff meeting and a staff uprising.

Tips for Lasting Impact

  • Embrace the Ambition: Recognize the ambition, talk to it, guide it, and most importantly, don’t fear it. It’s a wild horse that can lead your chariot to victory if you harness it right.
  • Create Impact Zones: Designate areas where this ambition can impact the most. Let them loose where their energy can translate into positive outcomes – think big projects, not daily minutiae.
  • Feedback is Your Friend: Keep the lines of communication so open that there’s no room for misunderstandings. Clear, honest feedback turns potential clashes into collaborative dances.

Remember, dealing with employees who want to run the show is an art form that requires as much finesse as it does fortitude. When channeled correctly, these shockwaves can reverberate through your company, shaking up the old and ringing in the new. It’s a delicate balance of knowing when to hold the reins and when to let them run with it.

Next time you spot a Casey or a Karen gunning for the helm, don’t batten down the hatches. Instead, teach them to navigate. If you can master the art of dealing with employees who want to run the show, you won’t just avoid mutiny; you might just discover a fleet of leaders you never knew you had.

Katie Rutten

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