Ann Andrews shares 12 signs that you’ve just recruited, or worse still, promoted a narcissist in your business – and three ways to deal with it.
Most people who are ambitious or goal orientated probably have a touch of narcissism, but it’s the degree of narcissism business owners need to be aware of before they recruit or promote someone with such tendencies.
Narcissists can and will cause mayhem.
Their way will be the only way; they will do whatever it takes to get their way even if their ‘way’ is immoral or even marginally illegal.
As if causing chaos and mayhem wasn’t terrifying enough, know that narcissists think that bullying people is one of their natural talents, not something that should be seen as a
Here are MY 12 signs that there’s a narcissist on your payroll. I’m sure there are more but you will get the gist:
1. They totally believe they have a natural talent for influencing people.
2. They do not understand the concept of modesty.
3. They will do anything to ‘win’.
4. They can talk their way into or out of any situation.
5. They can read other people and easily work out their weaknesses. They will then put strategies in place to control them.
6. They will never be satisfied no matter how much they have or how high they go.
7. They have to be the centre of attention: being ignored is their worst nightmare.
8. They believe they are more capable than anyone else, even though they have no particular skills to do the job they are applying for or the talents required to manage people and/or projects.
9. They happily pinch other people’s ideas and unashamedly take the credit for them.
10. If things go wrong they will always find someone to blame.
11. They expect people to believe what they say no matter what.
12. They hate being questioned or challenged.
If you fear you’ve just recruited a narcissist and these 12 traits have just sent waves of terror through your body, I feel for you. Narcissists are very hard to get rid of. They have the ‘smarts’ to be consistently one step ahead of you and they will have an answer or excuse for everything. They literally have the hide of a rhinoceros and the survival skills of a cockroach.
If you fear you have just promoted a narcissist, then watch how quickly power goes to their head. Keep an eye on turnover; absenteeism and a rise in sick leave. The last thing you want is to lose your good people because you have promoted someone like this. You must coach and mentor them: you must put strict guidelines in place beyond which they must not go.
If you realise you have made a terrible mistake, you could demote them or even redesign their role so they keep their ego intact. Redesigning their role means they are put out of harm’s way by being involved in a bright and shiny project.
I agree neither of these options is a great look, but getting them out of harm’s way will be infinitely better than losing employees, customers; suppliers and your business reputation.
Psychology Today suggests three ways to deal with narcissists. They are:
• Maintain a positive outlook. If you are dealing with narcissists who derive pleasure from watching others suffer, then seeing the pain they cause will only egg them on to more aggressive counter-behaviour. Don’t look ruffled, even if you’re feeling annoyed, and eventually that behaviour will diminish in frequency.
• Don’t let yourself get derailed. It’s easy to lose your own sense of purpose or goals when a narcissist tries to take centre stage. You don’t need to attend to everything this person says or does, no matter how much he or she clamours for your attention. Find the balance between moving ahead in the direction you want to pursue and alleviating the vulnerable narcissist’s anxieties and insecurities.
• Keep your sense of humour. Calling a narcissist’s bluff may mean that you ignore the person, but it might also mean that you meet that bluff with a laugh at least once in a while. Without being cruel about it, you can point to the inappropriateness of the person’s egocentric behaviour with
a smile or joke.
The good news is that narcissists don’t stay very long in any one place. The great news is that they get bored very easily and if they are not getting the love and adoration they crave in your business, they will find it somewhere else.
Wish them a relieved “bon voyage” and then learn the signs for next time.