Managing prima donnas on your team

If your work team includes a few prima donnas, you understand their unique problems. Prima donnas cannot grasp the possibility that they are not perfect. Use these tactics to manage those employees:

  • Engage prima donnas in a chat about their pluses. They love to talk about how wonderful they are. And then hold them to their promises. Tell them: “I’m glad you feel that you can increase your sales by 20% by the end of the quarter. I will check in with you at the end of next week to see what progress you are making toward that goal.”
  • Know your facts. Before you discuss issues with your prima donnas, know all the facts. If you don’t, the workers will jump on any misinformation. Bring proof, such as a past report, to back up your facts. Example: “Actually some of the charts in your last report did contain errors. Look at the statistic on Page 5—it says 15%, but it should say 45%.”
  • Pick your battles. Prima donnas are feisty, and they often are willing to turn anything into a fight. If an issue is relatively unimportant, don’t back prima donnas into a corner over it. Focus instead on “winning the war,” and avoid becoming mired in minor skirmishes. Say: “I do not agree with the way you are going about the job. I think you could find a faster and better way to do it. However, the important thing is that you make your deadline.”

— Adapted from “The Care and Feeding (and Firing?) of a Prima Donna,” Danny Cox,