Get advice on how to deal with jerks at work Check out the book 'Jerks At Work' and other titles by Ken Lloyd Ph.D. Return to the homepage Learn more about Ken Lloyd, Ph.D. Submit a question to Ken Lloyd, Ph.D.

You asked, Ken answers ...

This item is filed under these categories:
Condescending Treatment Who's In Charge? Criticism Disciplining

How do you deal with an employee who phrases almost every comment in a critical and condescending tone? He reports to me, but he somehow thinks that he can lecture me in department meetings and directly attack my ideas and suggestions. I have tried to work with his comments, but he seems to be getting more and more impossible to handle. Why would he be acting this way and what do you suggest?

This charming employee is trying to push the envelope and push you as far as possible, and you have not acted assertively to put an end to it. As a result, he is going to become increasingly impossible until he sees that he has finally hit the wall.

Employees who act this way do so for any number of reasons, often because they are compensating for some underlying insecurity. However, it will make more sense for you to focus on his behavior rather than on the deeper factors that may determine it.

The next time he goes into his condescending mode, you should meet with him in private and give him direct feedback. Describe the specific behavior, let him know your opinion of it, show him some alternative behaviors, and then let him know the consequences if he continues down the current path.

The next step is his. If he improves, be sure to give him some positive feedback. If he becomes even more troublesome, document it and let him know how difficult it is for you to keep difficult employees on board.

Comment on this item

Your name (optional)
If you leave this blank, we'll list you as "Website visitor"

Your comments
Please keep your comments focused on the topic. Thanks!