One of the biggest mistakes that I made while running my company, Micrel, for 37 years was to hang on to problem employees – those who were extremely functional in producing a lot of high-quality work, but dysfunctional in the way in which they interfaced with others. 

Why is the Dysfunctional Employee So Hard to Spot?

I have often said that a smart sociopath is a leader’s worst nightmare. These snakes in business casual generate more havoc in a shorter period of time than anyone else—and they often make doing so look good, at least in the short run.

But we don’t give enough attention to the second biggest problem: the overachieving, nose-to-the-grindstone, works-sixty-hours-a-week go-getter idiot. These people proudly put in more face time than anyone else, take the jobs that other eschew, and smugly announce that they have no time for a balanced life because their work defines them.  Although this list contains laudable behaviors, the operative word we should consider is “idiot.”


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