Workplace Management: Overcoming Common Negative Personality Attributes At Work

Management Coaching in San Diego, November 8 at the Empress Hotel in La Jolla. Are you dealing with a prima donna at work? Learn how to cope with expert tips from David Workman.

By David Workman,

Management Coaching in San Diego, November 8 at the Empress Hotel in La Jolla. Are you dealing with a prima donna at work? Learn how to cope with expert tips from David Workman.
As managers, we strive to keep the workplace positive and productive with strong communication, uplifting encouragement and goal-oriented results. But nothing can sour the office environment as quickly as poor behavior at work. As hard as managers try to keep spirits high, when employees exhibit negative behavior, it can quickly throw the office into a loop. Worse, when bad behavior is not bad enough to merit formal discipline or termination, the stakes become even greater when it comes to maintaining balance in the workplace.

Managers must stay proactive in the face of negative behavior. With the right tools and training, managers can be office advocates, eliminating bad behavior while helping employees get back on track. Thanks in part to a

recent article


Business Management Daily

coupled with the latest research from the Center for Creative Leadership, you can find out how to overcome the most irritating employee behavior quickly and professionally. And for even more managerial tips and behavioral training ideas, join us for the next Simply Effective workshop, November 8th at the Empress Hotel in La Jolla. All managers at every level are encouraged to attend. Call (858) 246-6210 for more information.


You may be faced with a so-called “prima donna” – the type of employee who thinks she’s above others when it comes to taking on smaller tasks or menial duties. Perhaps she’s under the impression she’s even earned special treatment as she may be your top performer in the office. The Prima Donna is an excellent producer and she knows it. She’s bright, intelligent and likes to shine in the spotlight of her own success.

The Personality Type

According to the Center for Creative Leadership, a “prima donna” personality type is classified as a bright and natural driver. She’s ambitious and maintains high standards with a “tough on laggards” mindset. This personality type brings a lot of positive qualities to the table, but behavior can quickly derail if given the opportunity, leading to unfavorable traits such as becoming overly ambitious, bruising others, becoming abrasive and handling mistakes poorly. The

Lominger Derailment Exercise

from the book titled Tools for Developing Successful Executives by Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger reminds managers that these highly ambitious players may slip into trouble when behavior becomes arrogant, insensitive or when trust issues arise.

The Solution

“Prima Donna” personality types can quickly interfere with office morale, especially if other employees believe she’s given special treatment. Managers should delineate expectations in the form of an email, printed list, shared document or other form of communication that spells out duties, no matter how big and small. Avoid micromanagement, though; the goal of the task list is to create concrete objectives and follow-through. Also, don’t single her out. Instead, make the task list an organizational component for all employees. Keep the list updated frequently and bring it to office meetings to maintain continuity.


Some employees simply lack the social skills to understand professional behavior. Constant interrupting is good example of poor behavior that can cause a bad case of annoyance for everyone in the office. An interrupter is obsessed with his own work, perfecting it and controlling it until it produces the desired result. He is a master of all details and he makes sure that he gets all the information he needs to complete the task, even at the expense of interrupting others or taking over conversations.

The Personality Type

According to the

Lominger Derailment Exercise

, interrupters are often seen as results-oriented, single minded individuals with an ability to nail down technical detail quite well. These employees are assets in many cases; but when negative behavior begins to mount, poor qualities such as getting irritated, micromanagement and a lack of composure begin to see the light.

The Solution

Managers can overcome this behavior by speaking to the offending employee one-on-one. Be firm yet polite and set boundaries. Reinforce your conversation by always correcting the behavior should it once again reappear.

Sometimes employees choose to interrupt because of their lack of self-confidence when it comes to skills or making decisions. In cases like these, understand where the employee falls short in terms of procedures or protocol, and take time to retrain.


“I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do the day after,” said playwright Oscar Wilde – and apparently, many of today’s employees agree with that same lazy sentiment. Last minuteness is never good. It can lead to missed details, forgotten elements and worse, lapsed deadlines. The Procrastinator is a composer of ideas and a master of taking the spotlight with creative reign. But when it comes to delivering the goods, the Procrastinator often falls short.

The Personality Type

This type of employee is a creative and conceptually strong ball of fire according to the

The Lominger Derailment Exercise

  1. Although creative types can be wonderful assets to the office environment, imaginative employees can run into trouble with traits such as lacking attention to detail, being disorganized, losing track of deadlines and failing to complete assigned work.

The Solution

Managers can rectify this type of behavior by working with creative employees to prioritize schedules and establish a big picture game plan. Again, don’t aim for micromanagement – after all, it will only make your job harder and demoralize employees. Instead, aim for ongoing feedback and a checks-and-balance system that works for both you and employees who tend to procrastinate.


No matter what kind of personality type you manage, there will always be strong pros and potential cons when it comes to the qualities we all bring to the table. All types of employees will get into trouble without self-awareness and professional coaching and development. When negative behavior begins to take center stage, these qualities become career stealers and stoppers. In other words, they stall or stop and otherwise promising career.

With the right coaching and ongoing management development, you can aim to improve negative behavior in the office as it unwittingly takes center stage.


it’s time to get your team ready for success. Join us for the next Simply Effective workshop, November 8th at the Empress Hotel in La Jolla. All managers at every level are encouraged to attend. Call (858) 246-6210 for more information.