The silent enemy of healthy work culture

January 10, 2023

The silent enemy of healthy work culture

We occasionally encounter bosses, coworkers, and team members who are quite obnoxious, who take all the credit for teamwork, and who continuously demand some kind of special treatment, as if they alone are the exception to the rules. These types of narcissists are easy enough to spot. The covert narcissists, however, are a sneakier and friendlier breed that occasionally pops up. 

In either case, narcissism at work can seriously harm company culture. According to statistics, one in every 200 Americans (with 75% of them being men) has narcissistic personality disorder, and many more demonstrate narcissism in some capacity.

How can we identify narcissism and deal with it before it worsens the team's situation and the culture of the company?

Signs of narcissists at work

When bragging about their accomplishments and superiority, overt narcissists love to be grandiose and over the top. They enjoy being in the spotlight and feed off of people's attention, whether it's positive or negative. They frequently fantasize about being in charge and having power over everyone else, and they can also have a very inflated sense of entitlement, expecting special treatment and exemption from the rules.

Narcissists are able to act manipulatively and in ways that have a negative impact on others because they lack empathy and have no regard for their peers. They are often fiercely competitive and won't take no for an answer.

On the other hand, covert narcissists might come off as approachable and helpful at first. But they also exhibit passive-aggressive traits, such as giving untrue compliments, disguising insults as jokes, making subtle jabs, and gossiping behind people's backs.

They are skilled at subtly soliciting compliments from others and setting them up against one another while maintaining the appearance of model workers.

Narcissism frequently results from deep-seated feelings of guilt and low self-worth. Even at the expense of other people, they try to cope by exaggerating their egos.

These actions can undermine team dynamics and negatively impact collaboration, teamwork, and morale at work. This can lead to decreased productivity, a toxic workplace, and a higher turnover rate. Eventually, even customer relations may suffer, which will damage your company's reputation. 

That’s why it is important to address it before the situation escalates.

How to deal with narcissism in the workplace

The first thing to remember is that a narcissist cannot be changed. Not until they understand that they must first change.

Managers and leaders need to pay attention. It's crucial to record a person's behavior when narcissism is apparent at work, particularly when it is already endangering the team and organization's culture. Arguments based on how a narcissist's behavior made you or your team feel are pointless because they lack empathy and think their feelings are more important than everyone else's. It is preferable to concentrate on the facts, such as what actions they took that went too far, broke company rules, or created issues for the team or the organization.

Set boundaries and expectations up front. When a confrontation is unavoidable, remain composed. It is essential to document agreements and distribute them to interested parties. Narcissists will attempt to alter the subject and rearrange the stakes. Everything being in writing makes it easier for them to get away with pushing boundaries when they attempt to change the story.

As long as it's not already interfering with work, ignore annoying behavior. However, abusive behavior needs to be addressed. Depending on the circumstance, firing an uncooperative and disruptive (the bad kind) employee may be an option when improvement plans fail to produce any results.

Although dealing with narcissists at work can be frustrating and challenging, every leader eventually encounters one or more of them throughout their professional lives. It is your responsibility to take appropriate action when narcissistic behavior threatens the well-being of the team as a whole.

Kindness isn’t the same as playing nice all the time. Knowing how to set boundaries and when to be firm to protect your company and the people you are leading means that you can lead with kindness.

Thanks for reading “A Brilliant Tribe.”