I am managing a team of 10+ knowledge workers (developers, testers, technical support, no sales person).

There are employees in my team who are extremely talented, who can consistently provide better technical support to clients, develop better features, and whose understanding of the software is better than the rest of the them.

The problem is that with greater talents comes greater trouble. Sometimes those employees will put forth half-baked suggestions (often to the detriment of the company as a whole), and won't take no for answers (regardless of your reasoning). Sometimes they just refuse to take on certain related roles (like refuse to cover for other products, the reason given is that they can't afford to have their time and concentration divided). In short, they don't always obey the instructions I gave them, which make them somewhat difficult to manage.

How do I deal with talented, but difficult employees?

  • 1
    To be fair, sometimes putting more work on the hands of an already busy developer can be a problem on itself. This is no excuse to half-assed solutions, but saying "I don't have enough time to do all of those tasks" is a perfectly valid answer to a manager that wants to push you more stuff when you are already overloaded (assuming that, of course, this the truth.)
    – T. Sar
    Commented Mar 20, 2017 at 11:12

15 Answers 15


Ultimately, if the behaviour of one or two people is negatively affecting the performance of the team as a whole then as a last resort they need to be removed from the team.

This could be as simple as making them their own team of one person (or two people) who go off and do their own thing in their own time. Obviously this will only work if they do deliver something of use at a time you can use it.

Before you get this far though you need to have conversations with them telling them that their behaviour is unacceptable. They need to pull their weight and perform all the tasks that are assigned to them - they cannot pick and choose which ones they do. If they really bring unique skills in certain areas then you might want to allow them some leeway, but this needs to be formalised. Having them in their own team would allow you to do this as you could set the team up with different working conditions. For example, if you are on Team A you have to be in work between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm as it's customer facing, but Team B has more flexible hours as it's not customer facing. You make sure that the rules are equivalent but different

This does leave you open to requests that everyone get the "special" treatment - though I would have thought you'd be getting some of these already ("How come A doesn't have to do X?") as you say that these employees won't cover for some of the products at the moment anyway. You have to be really sure that the "difficult" employees are worth the potential extra work.

You should also, and perhaps more importantly, be finding out why they are being perceived as difficult. Is their workload actually manageable? are they being given more responsibility than they can handle? are there any personal issues that are adversely affecting their work? In reality no one should be that "difficult" employee. This is a failure of management.

If the team is the company (or a large part of the company) then you may have to consider letting them go. The decision has to be yours, but the bottom line is that if they aren't providing more value than they are costing then they are hurting your company's profits and ultimately the livelihoods of everyone else (you, their colleagues, your bosses etc.). It's not just the direct financial cost you have to consider. Giving some employees apparently more favourable employment conditions is likely to lead to the other employees asking for the same treatment and, if it's not forthcoming, increasing the likelihood of them leaving.

  • 2
    This is one of the best advices I have seen on this site. Bravo.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 10:28
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    @Graviton - you can formalise the different rules for the different teams. Team A follows the rules: X, Y and Z while team B follows the rules: V, W and Z. It stops the "why can so-and-so do X, while the rest of us are not allowed to" questions.
    – ChrisF
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 13:03
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    Agree with most of this. However, when you create teams of one, you may be setting a dangerous precedent. Other team members, who play by the rules, will wonder why this person is getting preferential treatment for breaking the rules. If you create a special team of one, be ready for a bunch of people wanting the same. Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 13:18
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    @WonkotheSane - that is true, which is what I was thinking when I emphasised this sentence: "If they really bring unique skills in certain areas then you might want to allow them some leeway"
    – ChrisF
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 13:20
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    I've been in a company where the team of one concept was introduced for a difficult but talented employee. The thing is the other employees knew he was difficult but talented so didn't mind so much that he had slightly different rules. And we didn't necessarily want to work with him anyway....
    – dreza
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 20:31

This is a difficult question. Ben Horowitz quotes Phil Jackson which captures the spirit of my reasoning.

“If you hold the bus for everyone on the team, then you’ll be so late that you’ll miss the game, so you can’t do that. The bus must leave on time. However, sometimes you’ll have a player that’s so good that you hold the bus for him, but only him.”

Phil Jackson, the basketball coach who has won the most NBA championships, was once asked about his famously flakey superstar Dennis Rodman: “Since Dennis Rodman is allowed to miss practice, does this mean other star players like Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen can miss practice too?” Jackson replied:

“Of course not. There is only room for one Dennis Rodman on this team. In fact, you really can only have a very few Dennis Rodmans in society as a whole; otherwise, we would degenerate into anarchy.”

This worked because the other superstars wanted the nutcase (Rodman) around. It would not have worked if they didn't. And it's about as lenient as you can get in a team environment. You have to give your 10x resources some slack, but when it's at the expense of others on the team, it doesn't work if it's anarchy.

The one caveat is if you can subdivide the work into areas where each person has 100% ownership, and not much cross-team interaction. (In this case you are more of a collection of people than a team with a common goal)

  • 29
    Interesting way to think about it -- in essence, it's not the manager's decision whether to tolerate the behavior, but the team's. If the team believes that the troublesome star helps them achieve their goals, then it's worth it. Otherwise, not.
    – JohnMcG
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 14:12
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    The tricky part is that in sports, there is a clear goals that all the players have presumably bought into -- winning games and the championship. In offices, it may not be so clear.
    – JohnMcG
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 14:14
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    It should also be noted that Dennis's job was to distract the refs and the other team to allow more openings for his team mates. And the bulls cut him when they no longer needed him. Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 16:25
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    @scaa-There may be millions of developers waiting to be hired but very few of them are talented.
    – Dunk
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 21:36
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    @scaa-By talented, I would define that as the people who can take ANY project and ensure that it works and gets done in a timely manner. Most developers need hand-holding to get their stuff to work. Slightly better developers can build stuff, as long as they are told what to build. Others can get a poorly defined system working, sort of, as long as the stars align but the system doesn't have much of a future. And then you get to the talented people, they are presented with a problem, they come up with the solution and they ensure the system is implemented properly. Rare.
    – Dunk
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 18:46

My best trick for really smart talented knowledge workers has always been to explain (over and over again) why I need what I need. And to challenge them to put themselves in my shoes and show me the better option in the really long term.

Often even my star players see only a short term - now, one month, one release, etc. And not the picture I'm in charge of (forever? OK, maybe not, but 1-5 years, sometimes more). So I know they are smart, talented and dedicated enough to see it - so I challenge them to rise to the occasion.

Trick is - I also have to be open to hearing their counteroffer. Sometimes they are right. So if I ask them for a better plan than my plan, I have to be ready to hear their plan.

Also - I look for the win-win. Usually I try to place people into work so they grow, get better and are more valuable to the company. So I try to explain that, as well.

Here's some examples:

  • Half baked ideas - talk about why it's half baked. Listen to their ideas for how to answer the gaps in their plan, give feedback on gaps, not on original idea. I sometimes go with the flow for quite a while, getting enthusiastic about their idea, but asking enough "what ifs" to finish the baking process. Even if my idea was (IMO) better baked, I talk them round to a compromise between theirs and mine, based on comparing the two for gaps and advantages.

  • Won't take on coverage work - the person who can do more than one product or area is more valuable - they think more broadly and they get exposure to other facets of the work. I want people to grow - and I want my best guys to stay challenged. Why wouldn't I? Yes, context shifts are hard, but that's why I ask only the better performers to take them on.

Admittedly, there's a point where push comes to shove. IMO, a performer is not a good performer if they can't see past the tips of their own noses. I don't care how brilliant someone is - if they can't communicate, negotiate, see another perspective or work for the good of something bigger than themselves, then they do not deserve a senior title, senior compensation, or senior privileges. Not in a team environment. Yes, I'll cut a senior guy some slack in a few areas, but the ones you outline are critical to team work. It's not Dennis Rodman skipping practices - it's Dennis Rodman refusing to play on game days.

  • 5
    I completely agree with this. I have been the 'difficult' team member while also being the most senior - it's a tough game to play. To have a manager that would have been open to discussion on alternatives to some of the half-baked ideas I was subjected to would have been an absolute joy. Even having things explained would've been nice. Unfortunately, neither was an option. End result: I voted with my feet. Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 17:15
  • "Yes, context shifts are hard, but that's why I ask only the better performers to take them on." I think this is important to note, you need to present this as a praise to their abilities and a token of trust to them, and that they shouldnt view it as a hindrance & drudgery.
    – Leon
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 7:45

Some things to consider, before you attempt to "fix" people for not fitting a common personality type:

There is a high correlation between talented developers and at least some degree of Asperger Syndrome.

It is your job, as their manager, to understand this, identify it and approach them accordingly. (Opinionated note: My advice, as someone with Asperger myself, is to ignore the links to autism. Nothing has ever done more damage to understanding.)

While you think that your logic behind certain decisions is sound, that doesn't mean that someone with Aspergers will. It is up to you to listen to their rationale and not fight them. If your logic isn't holding up for them but you still think you're right, say "I'm going to go away and get more information and we'll resume this discussion." Likewise, teach them to take a similar approach when you're not understanding what they see as impeccable logic.

Take less of a "do as I say, I am your manager" approach and make sure they understand why you're saying it. It seems annoying and unnecessary, I know, but believe me that if you take this time then they will respect you a lot more and respect is a valuable currency when the pressure is on and you really need them to just get on with something and discuss it later.

And don't lie to or hide things from them. They will smell a hole in your rationale and pick at it, to your annoyance, until they understand the truth.

Also, understand that many thought-workers are introverts. This is another thing that you, as their manager, have to understand, identify and account for.

Contrary to what most people think, an introvert is not simply a person who is shy. In fact, being shy has little to do with being an introvert! Shyness has an element of apprehension, nervousness and anxiety, and while an introvert may also be shy, introversion itself is not shyness. Basically, an introvert is a person who is energized by being alone and whose energy is drained by being around other people.

Do your best not to force introverts into situations they're uncomfortable with. Introverts enjoy their comfort zones. If you keep moving them into other teams or forcing them to socialise unnecessarily, you will alienate them.

This is not to say that you should exclude introverts from social events, etc. Most of us do actually enjoy ourselves when socialising. But we need to be able to choose when to socialise and when not to. We probably socialise outside of work as well and, if we're exhausted from that, we cannot be forced into yet another work social.

  • 3
    OP's problem is that his employees don't obey instructions, not that they are not willing to socialize.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 10:47
  • 6
    @scaaahu: That the OP thinks that is the problem IS the problem. The clue is in the fact that he has issues with his most talented developers.
    – pdr
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 10:58
  • 2
    OP's problem is "How to deal with diffcult, but talented employees?". Difficult but talented employees are not necessarily introverts.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 11:18
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    There is nothing to indicate that "asperger's" is the problem here. The OP indicated simply that some otherwise valuable worker's aren't compliant with his instructions. Maybe they have a good reason? Maybe there is nothing wrong with them?
    – Angelo
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 12:42
  • 2
    @Angelo: Who suggested that Asperger was "something wrong"?
    – pdr
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 12:57

Jeff Atwood addresses this behavior in his most recent blog post: How to talk to Human Beings. I would consider reading that book because it sounds like you have several people on your team who are acting like children. And as Jeff points out in his blog the techniques transcend dealing with children to dealing with people.

When coaching people I prefer the build-break-build technique.

  1. You complement a skill or ability you would like to see more of from your employee
  2. You explain how an action or failure to take an action is causing problems
  3. Explain that you have confidence they can over come this problem and that you are committed to helping them solve it.

An exchange in your scenario might go something like this:

Hey Chad, I really like that you are able to give great support to Innotech and that you are willing to share your ideas on making things better. But we can not always implement your ideas. Sometimes there are business considerations and sometimes they will not work. I need you to be more open to other ideas,so we can grow effectively. I know that we can get over this and I want you to know I am going to be here to help you grow with the company. I am certain you have a bright future ahead.

As for not helping with other products, I would explain that it is part of the position they are in to occasionally step in to support other products. If they are unwilling to do that you will be forced to demote them to a lesser position that will allow them to focus on a single product but will be a significant cut in pay and title. Be prepared with a title that includes junior, should he call your bluff. This generally will be enough to convince a tech to take on the new responsibilities. If he is willing to accept the demotion then I would consider whether his skills are worth the problems that he will almost certainly create going, and perhaps cut your losses. Sometimes a show of force like this is required to regain control if the team has lost respect in your willingness to take necessary steps.

You should never bluff with out being willing to be called on your bluff. If you back down to the threat of their leaving or being willing to demote/terminate then you will lose respect enough that it will be practically impossible to deal with non compliance in the future.

  • 1
    Excellent example of "How to talk down to Human Beings". Commented Dec 11, 2016 at 17:20

The problem with great talents is that sometimes they lack social skills due to the fact that they dedicate most of the times to studying/self-improvement and little time to interact with their peers. A simple solution for this would be either some communications training to help improve their soft-skills, either go on a team-building with team, try to find some outdoor activities that would open their mind and eyes to being more cooperative.

  • 5
    -1 The problem with great talents is that sometimes they lack social skills due to the fact that they dedicate most of the times to studying/self-improvement and little time to interact with their peers. I believe this to be an unfounded generalization(stereotype). Per the FAQ Please back up this claim with a reference or valid explanation of why this is correct. Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 14:37
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    @Chad: He backed it up his claim with logic. Due to an inherent scarcity of time, an enormous amount of time spent studying or practicing will yield less time for interacting and improving interpersonal skills.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 16:12
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    @JimG. No he made a claim. And how you could deal with that situation. There is nothing backing it up. Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 16:19
  • possible reference: 10,000-Hour Rule, "claiming that the key to success in any field is, to a large extent, a matter of practicing a specific task for a total of around 10,000 hours"
    – gnat
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 22:00
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    "The problem with great talents is that sometimes they lack social skills ". The very same applies to untalented people, too. Some of them also lack social skills. Furthermore, don't project opinions on how teambuilding should work. Having an all-nighter Call of Duty tournament may work better than an outdoors event; I don't know your teammebers so it's a guess either way.
    – MSalters
    Commented Jul 30, 2012 at 14:15

In the past, I have been that "difficult to manage" guy.

Solution that worked to my managers has been to have weekly 1:1's (if you're interested, find more on that in my answer to another question). It didn't magically make everything perfect, but according to my sources after 1:1's turned into established routine complaints about "difficul to manage" have been gone.

...Your reward for a culture of healthy 1:1s is a distinct lack of drama.

I did not like it back then and remain slightly uncomfortable about 1:1's until now, but have to admit, this trick worked as advertised. Distinct lack of drama.

As a longer term solution, consider investing into communication ("soft") skills trainings. Other answer to your question mentions lack of social skills, that has been definitely my case.

Like with technical skills, acquiring this one turned out to be a matter of education and practice.

Unlike technical skills though, picking it up from teammates turned out not an option - that's why I am specifically talking about trainings.

  • I learned a lot of technical stuff from senior colleagues who were experienced professionals in their job, but none of us has been in the job of communication, none had a knowledge and experience to educate others in soft skills. The way you describe your team, it looks like it's the case for you too - developers, testers, technical support, no sales person.

A word of caution - do not expect soft skills education to be a short / mid term solution for the issues you describe; to me it certainly wasn't. It took months... years to make a difference.

  • Why had you been a "difficult to manage" guy?
    – Pacerier
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 4:44
  • per what I learned, main reason for that was lack of communication. I generally like to and prefer to focus on coding and design, but in some cases one needs to also talk to people for things to go smooth
    – gnat
    Commented May 28, 2015 at 6:38

Talent and Skill are useless if they are not applied in the most efficient manner possible.

Not working in a team in business where required is not only inefficient it is detrimental to the rest of the team. Special preference to a difficult personality will demotivate the rest of the team and reinforce the negative behavior of the problem personality.

Acting out is detrimental to the team, which is detrimental to the business, and ultimately should be communicated to the employee that it is detrimental to their career and future at the company. Plain and Simple.

Working a team environment isn't a democracy, there is always someone who has to decide what and how to do something, and hopefully take responsibility for the decision.

Good team members try and make the team a success even if they have had their say and it was taken into consideration and then not used.

  • 1
    I would like to think this is true. That poor team players are unsuccessful, that talent only gets you so far, and that those that indulge misbehavior by stars pay for it later. But that doesn't mesh with what I see in the world, in business or in sports. There are lots of successful jerks out there.
    – JohnMcG
    Commented Jun 18, 2012 at 20:02
  • @JohnMcG you are talking about individual success, I am talking about organizational success. Read/Watch MoneyBall, it kind of proves the point that star players don't make an organization successful in the long term, they damage an organization in the long term, especially when they leave.
    – user718
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 14:32
  • 1
    The A's were able to win a few division titles before other teams caught up to them and the talent-based equilibrium was restored. (They also had three healthy top starting pitchers when they were successful, which the book doesn't mention). If that's the level of success you want, you may be able to get there without stars (another example -- this year's 76ers). But if you want to be the best, be the champion, you're going to need elite talent.
    – JohnMcG
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 15:13

I was tempted to jump on the "they need to be corrected" bandwagon until I noticed your wording, especially "obey". Word count.

If you are struggling to get employees to 'obey' such instructions it may actually be you that has the issue. Talented, smart grown-ups don't "obey" rules. They need to be treated professionally. If they are acting inappropriately you should address that specifically with meetings, warnings and potentially disciplinary actions, but other than that, I would suggest that you focus on making roles and responsibilities clear and spend more time listening rather than instructing. People may be reacting to a unprofessional environment with unprofessional behavior. By unprofessional environment I don't mean that are treated "badly" just not professionally which can be subtle but huge.

  • 1
    "Talented, smart grown-ups" do obey the rules... they may leave when they do not like the rules but being smart does not alleviate the requirement that we obey rules... and why did this warrent a second answer instead of an addendum to your original answer? Commented Jul 31, 2012 at 14:11
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    @Chad: Talented, smart grown-ups don't "obey" rules they don't find logical - I think this was the original intent. Basically, if something is done because it's always been done like that (very common argument these days I find). Commented Apr 6, 2014 at 12:50

It is an interesting balancing act.

Against my egalitarian instincts, I do think some degree of "star treatment" is warranted if you want to achieve the highest levels of success. Success should bring with it some privileges, and the smartest companies are willing to look the other way on certain things in order to attract and retain the most talented people. The workday starts at 9, but the star engineer needs to drop her kids at school and can't get there until 9:30? Maybe let it go. Or you can say "rules are rules" and accept that you're going to hover around the average. I don't think it's a coincidence that the NBA Finals features 4 of the top 10 players in the league.* Think they might be difficult at times? Think they get treated differently than their teammates? You bet.

I think this also applies to having some reasonable level of control over work assignments. Mike Scoscia shouldn't ask Albert Pujols to lay down a sacrifice bunt*, or bat him eighth in the lineup without having a conversation with him first. And if he does, he should expect some friction.

But here's the other side -- with star privileges comes star accountability. If Albert Pujols can call his own hit-and-runs, then he needs to answer questions when it fails in the World Series. If the team fails, the star is going to take a good part of the blame.

I have been on teams where some members were given star treatment, allowed to go off and work on something outside the team's normal processes. This wasn't a big deal until they essentially tossed the resulting project over the wall to another team and declined to stand behind it. Then the real resentment came in.

This is where the parallels with sports start to break down a bit. Because in sports, the star players are paid more and are generally more famous than coaches/management, so fans and the media have no problem holding them accountable for the team's results. In business, managers typically make more than even their best employees and are the ones accountable to management for the success of the team, so ceding some of that to a star employee is not seen as a good move. But it may be the best way to go.

This also has to be balanced with the reality that star players are typically de facto leaders, and play a big part in setting the tone and culture for the entire team. If that tone is non-cooperation and defiance, then you're in some trouble. But I think that can be avoided by getting them on board in private as much as possible.

Good luck.


  • I use team sports analogies because I enjoy sports, and they offer transparency of both inputs and results, which isn't always present in businesses, which can be a bit murky. I realize the situations may not always be analogous, or may not relate to some who don't follow sports.

This is extremely common in my technology area. My advice is:

Limit the attendees of meetings.
Some folks can't help commenting and dominating whenever there is a discussion, so leave that person out of some of these discussions and just share the conclusions.

Have more private discussions.
If the office-plan is open-office, take the discussion around the corner for more privacy.

Clarify roles and responsibilities.
If part of their role is to include others and explain things make sure those responsibilities are clearly listed for the position.

Know when to say no.
Occasionally you just have to say "Sorry, Bob, this is for Joe and Frank alone". Don't give a long-winded explanation, just say it, wait through the awkward silence and then move on.

Emphasize the values you do want publicly.
During team meetings with all, make sure you give a repeated and consistent message about the values of mentoring, listening and respect that you want to see. Make a big deal about how important they are. Give employees the impression that these are key things that you value and want to see.

If they won't take no answer, regardless of reasoning, you will first need to take them aside privately and explain their duties. If it persists and a pattern is shown and you have documented the pattern then you move on to actual disciplinary action - [reminder, warning, severe warning, etc] according to you personnel manual with the most extreme action being dismissal. How fast and how strict you are with this course depends on how valuable you consider the employee. You've indicated that they are very valuable so it's basically a judgment call for you in the end as their is no "right" answer to this question given the information provided.

Make sure the renumeration and periodic evaluations state the qualities you are looking for and that employees will be rewarded for demonstrating.


On a team of just "10+" people there are not one but multiple people with whom you have this issue? Considering the small size, I'd bet against coincidence. I would first question your management style, because you're the single common factor.

As others have already noted, you seem to expect people to "obey instructions". Doesn't work with cats, doesn't work with talents either. But with good employees you have something that's even better than instructions: goals.

You can certainly include team goals in this. This works especially well to keep their sense of self-importance rooted in reality (but quite a few stars actually do help out their teams). Dealing with "half-baked suggestions"? Ask how that would help the (team) goals. That deflects the attention away from petty rules and towards real business.

  • 2
    +1 Although not every manager has an interest in "real" business. If your goal is a KPI like "pretend to handle 90% of complaints first time right", you don't want talents around, just people who don't ask too many questions.
    – Andomar
    Commented Oct 28, 2013 at 20:49
  • @Andomar : I agree, though at the same time, the OP seemed happy to have high-performers in its team. Your remark is just, right in many cases, but not here. Still good to keep in mind.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 19:59

I am providing this answer in response to OP's comment : We tried to reason him/her out of the proposal by saying why it won't work, and asked him/her to come back with a more detailed proposal considering our points. All we got from him/her, was a deafening silence, followed by an insistence of the pet proposal, without actually addressing our points..

If I were you, I would let him do it, with conditions. I am having this idea from an invester's point of view, not from a manager's. Please read on.

I would let him be his own team. I'll give him a well-defined budget and time frame. The key point here is that he is a talented developer, as you say. He should be able to do it by himself if he knows what he is doing. If he really needs another hand, give him one, but that's it. And he should not need much support/money. Remember, Microsoft and Apple both started with a garage and a few talented guys.

You should track their progress as a manager. Hopefully, the time frame would be in a couple of months. After that, you ask him to give a demo. You and other technical experts will evaluate his product and determine its market value. If the product is great like another Facebook, you hit a jackpot. The investment is worth it. If it's a so-so stuff, then you know you lost a couple of man-months and also that "talented" developer is not talented after all. Then of course, the next thing you do is to fire him.

  • Note that if the proposal OP was talking about is to build a space shuttle, then my idea won't work because such a thing requires hundreds of talented people and hundreds of millions of dollars. If it's pet proposal, it should work.
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 19, 2012 at 5:34

The other thing that nobody has mentioned (admittedly, I skimmed) is that the employee just might be correct. If we accept the notion that 1) teams are in fact important, and 2) input from the entire team is valuable, then it is at least plausible that the employee is correct: his or her talents are put to better use in an area you didn't assign him to (i.e. a product team vs a support team or whatever). The best managers know when to set their ego/security issues aside and focus on delivering for the organization, whether that involves letting somebody go work on the product team or forcing them to go work on the support team.

Your optimal move is to confront the situation by sitting down with the person(s) and have a frank discussion. Why not explain your rationale for a decision? Employees love it when things are explained! Why not ask them for feedback? If done in a secure, non-threatening way, employees love to give feedback. If the decision truly IS optimal for the company, I have to believe that most adult employees would understand that and pitch in wherever needed.

  • 2
    OP said in the comment: he did try to reason it out to the employee. The employee did not want to listen!
    – Nobody
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 12:03

Hire a "professional communicator" to carry out the communication between you and those guys.

Call that "professional communicator" as you wish - an HR specialist/ project manager/ psychologist/ psychotherapist/ etc - the idea is to have a person who a) has the knowledge, experience and brains to deal with difficult cases of communication and b) whose time is dedicated to this task only.

Yes, such a person would cost money; yes, pricing his labour would perplex you; yes, discovering and recruiting the right person would seem impossible; yes, you may feel uncomfortable to have to hire somebody for a job you thought you could manage. But when hiring those talented developers, it was your omission that you paid attention to their technical skills and never considered that they were human beings who had to interact with other human beings and that interaction between human beings is neither easier, nor cheaper activity than programming and that more often than not developers tend to be human beings with notoriously poor social skills.

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