Research, Opinion and Practice
Chapter 9: Dealing with the Narcissistic Subordinate
A narcissistic worker can create problems for a manager, such as being so selfcentered that work is neglected. In the two previous chapters we have described tactics and strategies for coping with workplace narcissists when they are your coworker or superior. All of these methods might have relevance in dealing with the narcissistic behavior and attitudes of a person who reports to you as his or her manager or team leader. Yet the interpersonal dynamics change considerably when you have formal authority over a narcissist – there is an organizational expectation that he or she will obey, or at least listen to you. It might be true that organizations are more democratic than in the past and that the concept of superior–subordinate seems a little antiquated. Yet the person who writes the performance evaluation and makes recommendations about salary increases and firing still has some formal authority, even in a relatively egalitarian organization. We approach the subject of the dealing with the narcissistic subordinate in several ways. First we look at the key behaviors of a narcissistic subordinate that might represent a challenge to the manager. We also describe the narcissistic organization, because this type of environment triggers or intensifies workers with tendencies toward behaving in narcissistic ways. Three sections of the chapter look squarely at helping the workplace narcissist overcome problems that might be interfering with productivity and morale, or at least with a smooth running of the manager’s organizational unit. We place particular emphasis on coaching as a...
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