How to Manage Someone Who Has a Giant Ego

June 4, 2018

Practical advice for managing someone with a giant ego.

In some ways, you have to admire someone who has a giant ego. While most of us beat ourselves up for even the most trivial mistakes, these people manage to ignore swaths of evidence to the contrary and maintain their elevated opinion of themselves.

Sounds pretty good, honestly.

The problem? People with big egos can be tough to manage. It’s hard to develop someone who already thinks they are perfect.

So, how do you handle them? Well, in her LinkedIn Learning course Coaching Employees Through Difficult Situations, Elizabeth McLeod explains.

LinkedIn Learning Instructor Elizabeth McLeod explains how to manage someone with a big ego.

How to Manage Someone With a Big Ego

Say there’s an area you want to help improve an employee in, but they have a massive ego. McLeod suggested approaching the conversation in this way:

    1. Start the conversation by acknowledging something positive about the person.

People with big egos love flattery. If you start with a compliment or an acknowledgement of one of their strengths, they’ll be much more open to what you have to say next.

    2. Frame the improvement from good to great, instead of bad to average.

Say the employee is really poor at analyzing data, but they think they are great at it. Well, frame it not as they are bad and you want them to be okay, but that they are good at it and you want them to be great.

Again, this will inspire them more. Hearing they are bad at something will cause them to get defensive – but saying they have the opportunity to be great at something is motivating.

    3. Most importantly, agree to a clear next step.

You flattered them and pointed out a weakness you want them to improve. Now is the critical part – get commitment from them on a next step.

If you don’t get that commitment, there’s a good chance no change will happen. Since they have a heightened sense of their performance, they’ll think what they are doing is already good enough.

By getting that commitment on the clear next step, the behavior will change. So ask yourself before you speak with this person – what do I really want them to do differently after the conversation?

Want to learn how to coach other types of difficult employees? Watch Lisa and Elizabeth McLeod’s full course, Coaching Employees Through Difficult Situations.

Other LinkedIn Learning courses you might be interested in are: