Would appreciate some hints:
I have a star performer, who gets constant positive feedback, and the occasional constructive feedback when required. There has not been a single occasion when this employee has responded well to negative feedback - she is usually aggressive, angry, hurt, unrepentant and holds a grudge afterwards.
No one in the company is more dedicated, works harder, longer or produces results comparable to her. She's brilliant but has huge self esteem issues. Outside of the bad feedback experiences, she's great - friendly, hard working, hugely successful and a fantastic can-do approach to work with a seemingly endless desire to take on more and more.
Most negative feedback revolves around her admin skills and time and project management, which are sloppy, but thats not uncommon for people in sales.
An example of the the aftermath of this is that after trying many approaches, my suggestion to her about her admin sloppiness is to have her delegate those tasks to others (I'd rather her be out in front of clients selling anyway), but she regards that as an insult and makes (the same list of) excuses for why Task A wasn't completed on time or why Task B went over budget, or why Task C wouldn't have gone wrong if she hadn't done it in such a rush because she was so busy....For the record I have been through numerous attempts to help her improve her admin skills but she hasn't changed her ways. I'm actually ok with this as long as she is prepared to delegate, which she is reluctant to do....
I am now at the point where I don't know what to do to help her work through these issues. No matter the issue, if she is given feedback, she is outraged. If we add to her sales team (because of her success opening up new territories) she feels threatened. If I make a business decision that unintentionally rocks her self esteem we end up in circular discussions where I try to convince her that there's nothing there that she needs to feel threatened by. She craves status and we do all we can to accomodate this, but any of this is forgotten the moment she feels threatened.
Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I can help her?

ramiska's picture

Have you applied the feedback model to her reaction to feedback?
Remember not to say that she's getting angry, note that she's displaying those behaviors and they have consequences.
How will she react if a customer complains?

AManagerTool's picture

Please write down....exactly....the words that you are using to give her feedback.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="AManagerTool"]Please write down....exactly....the words that you are using to give her feedback.[/quote]

...and how she actually responds. "she is usually aggressive, angry, hurt, unrepentant and holds a grudge afterwards. " could cover anything from punches you in the face then goes out to the car park and slashes your tyres through shouts for a bit then glowers at you everytime you walk by for the rest of the day/week to calmly and rationally (from her perception) explains the situation and why she believes that you have misinterpreted it.

M&M have mentioned a number of times looking in ever increasing concentric circles starting at your own desk.

Are you following the MT feedback model? I notice you use the terms 'positive', 'constructive', 'negative' and 'bad' rather than 'affiriming' and 'adjusting', does that reflect how you view and approach feedback?

Have you found her DISC type yet? Maybe next time you have a training/team-building type day you could get all your directs to do a DISC test. Feedback targetted to the wrong DISC type can be useless or even damaging.

What sort of things does she raise in O3s?

How are you judging that she has self esteem issues? Sales usually requires a lot of self esteem and self confidence, if she's that good at sales then either she probably doesn't have that much of a problem with self esteem or she's darned good at faking it.

A lot of high performers do have problems with self esteem (leading to problems with self confidence) but they tend to be more in the technical fields. Sometimes what drives them to be high performers is that they hold themselves to a very high standard that may not even be reasonable, they're constantly shooting for the moon and are disapointed when they miss and just land up amongst the stars.


WillDuke's picture
Training Badge

I agree with others, let's get specific here. What is being said?

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge

While I think everything you've said is completely reasonable, it's not helpful. You've characterized everything, rather than describing it specifically and factually.

She MAY have self esteem issues, but that is irrelevant to your work with her.

Have you done One on Ones? Have you given her feedback? ( I doubt you use the word the way we do, because constant feedback is impossible.)

Would love to help.


AManagerTool's picture

Guess we lost him...