His resume is a perfect fit. Required Skills? Check. Desired Skills? Check. Stuff you didn’t even know you wanted? Check. By the time you reach the last word on his resume you mentally stamp it with HIRED. In your mind, the interview is just a formality so you miss all of the warnings and cues that he has the markings of an HR Nightmare.
Shortly after the honeymoon phase concludes; he interrupts, challenges, and undermines your authority during an important meeting (or something equally uncharacteristic of the person you boast is your most talented employee). It’s at that point you realize you may have hired Kanye West…a “Dark Twisted Fantasy”. Instead of addressing and correcting the behavior right away, you choose to let it slide. Over time, the coveted employee transforms into the resident “Monster”. Now you are wondering what to do.
Call him out on his BS. Awards, praise, money, and celebrity status have Kanye West believing he’s above reproach. Try to correct him and you will likely be met with a verse of, “Excuse me. Is you saying something? Uh, uh, you can’t tell me nothing.”
The same can be true for an employee who doesn’t care how he behaves because he’s focused on accumulating degrees and certifications, bonuses, titles, and other accolades. One of the most collaborative teams I ever worked on had “come to Jesus” sessions when team members got off track. We were able to resolve issues in a timely manner by providing constructive guidance and coaching. Feedback was always specific, judgement free, sincere, direct, and based on observations.
Don’t make him a God. There is no question that Kanye is a gifted musician. Sadly his arrogance and narcissism can sometimes dwarf his talent. His “I Am A God” mentality, causes other talent to distance themselves from him. In a recent interview he said,
“I am Warhol. I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh. ”
Be careful that your talented employees don’t become so self-important that their peers are adversely affected. Remember,
“No one man should have all that power.”
Suggest the EAP. The commonality in Mr. West’s most volatile outbursts can be blamed on the “a a a a a a alcohol”. His song, “Hold My Liquor” is an ode to this intermittent misapplication of good sense in which he declares,
“you love me when I ain’t sober…you love me when I’m hungover.”
I consider this proclamation a cry for help.
One of my former coworkers was removed from a customer site for coming to work intoxicated every day (no exaggeration). Because he was so “good” management opted to relocate him to headquarters instead of terminating him. His assigned tasks were always completed, despite his constant inebriation, so his superiors acted like the drinking was a problem. The Employee Assistance Plan is an excellent benefit that we should encourage more of our employees to utilize to help manage a wide range of issues including substance abuse. For situations like this one, the EAP can also protect the company from potential liability.
Trust your HR Partners. Chances are your HR Partner, Recruiter, and/or one of your colleagues cautioned you early on in the process that Mr. “Amazing” was going to be difficult to manage. You didn’t heed the warning though because you were too focused on getting Jesus to walk with you across water. Collaborate with HR and the wayward employee so that potential and talent are not overshadowed by misconduct. Like the “Office Kanye”, the artist wasn’t always so unpredictable and reckless. Beneath the surface of the crazy interviews, the childish tantrums, and acceptance speech hi-jacking, is the endearing “College Dropout”.
If however, your Kanye is too far gone and there is no way to put the twinkle back in “All of the Lights”…drop him from the label.