Uh oh, you clicked this stunning, click-bait worthy title, and now I’m going to give you exactly what you want to find out. We’re going to explore two cases here. Lets get to the meat and potatoes.


It may actually be the team. Don’t be so quick to demonize the best on the team simply because it is surprising that they may “possibly” be the cause for a change in your company culture!

The hidden message here is this. Your brilliant team members have a pot of gold, and around your office, these concentrated pots of gold get up. They go to lunch. They go to the copy machine. They speak with other gold pots, filling them a little, and the idea is: they move about the office. Unfortunately for you, your office is filled with humans. While everyone has been sifted through HR and management to find a seat, together they form a culture that makes, or breaks productivity with respect to the usage of this currency.

Why is my good guy acting like this? I thought he was beyond this!

Most subject matters experts or sales super-stars are confident in their work, but work to defend themselves against workplace competition everyday. They use tact. They reshape the situation so that the offender doesn’t see competition, but teamwork. Sometimes they even take a productivity hit as they become super defensive, if they start to feel that “all is lost” in the situation. But we all have spent enough years living and working to understand that workplace life on the extreme end of the spectrum is intense, and sometimes it gets the better of the most frustrated team members, even if they are your subject matter experts, your master sales, your client go-getters. You know, your proven good guys who really work to get paid, pay everyone else, or get ahead with benefit to the company.

If your team is, whether knowingly or unknowingly, putting emotional or physical strain due to jealously, miscellaneous harassment, extreme workplace competition, or other factors, your brilliant jerk may just be crying for help. Unfortunately for him or her, it is that moment, that he or she becomes the loudest, most unprofessional in the situation.

Without management intervention, this could lead to the termination of great employees who are conversation starters to new forms of revenue, or sources of productivity in your company, or worst, open your company to discrimination or other workplace harassment lawsuits.


Your management personnel are competitive and sensitive. Let us all take a moment for this to really sink in.

We rely on management as a conduit toward ever increasing levels of complexity in our organizations and with this enormous trust, we make critical decisions about products and services, new policy, culture, and company direction-changing actions that propel us to success.

What did I do wrong? Was it my performance? …I was told I was doing well!

But our managers have emotional stress too, and can feel intimidated or threatened by an upcoming employee. That “upcoming employee” may be your star player, and unbeknownst to him or her, your manager is misrepresenting his productivity and reporting some pretty bad stuff. In this case, your “brilliant jerk” is just a really engaged [or brilliant] employee who is unaware of the situation and is struggling to meet unrealistic goals, or just brilliantly fell into the shade of unfavorability of your manager’s world.

These cases are just as important. Repeat this:

If your company turnover is releasing brilliant employees, something is not right. A factory might receive millions of tomatoes. If it filters out the sweetest, brightest, and freshest tomatoes, your clients will get tiny reg flags in their heads.

Where is Bob? He helped us with the first shipment last quarter. We made quota because of him!” “I’m sorry, Bob is no longer with the company.

Nobody likes rotten tomatoes.

A jerk of a manager is worst than a brilliant jerk, mainly because he has the power to turn away other brilliant employees. He is your faulty tomato sifter. Your culture cutter. You want to be an efficient company, retaining the cream of the crop each time, building valuable team members so that when those human resource decisions inevitably become difficult, you’ve got insanely. Good. Reasons. …for letting someone go.

We uh, we need all of them. Didn’t you see their synergy in the Mashroom on the last release? I’ve never seen…

Again, without proper intervention, this could lead to the termination of great employees who are conversation starters to new forms of revenue, or sources of productivity on your company, or worst, open your company to discrimination or other workplace harassment lawsuits.

While this article discusses specific cases, there are real brilliant jerks out there, and upon a risk assessment, you will need to what needs to be done. It is best to review on multiple levels the performance drop of an employee, or a disruption to the company culture, especially if it is critical to operations, and productivity. I have included a link to an excellent resource at the bottom of this page for retaining team members and reviewing potential failures.

Remember, brilliant people… …are brilliant, make sure your company is equipped with the proper metrics to identify these people, place these people where they are best, and to aid them against threats to your critical success as a company, even if it is internal.

If you want to discover more on how to retain good team members check out Managing Attendance and Employee Turnover, an excellent booklet on employee retention.

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