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High-Maintenance Employees

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High-Maintenance Employees

Why Your Best People Will Also Be Your Most Difficult...and What You Can Do About It


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Ambitious employees can be difficult people, but managed correctly they`ll reward you by becoming super-producers.

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Editorial Rating



  • Innovative


Author Kathi Graham-Leviss discovered early in her career that she wasn’t like many of her colleagues. She was driven, and she wanted the freedom to make her own decisions. Her bosses told her frankly that she wasn’t an easy person to manage. In short, Leviss was a "high-maintenance high-performer" - an HMHP. She was one of those Type A personalities who had to achieve her goals no matter what. Graham-Leviss is now a job coach and consultant who helps companies attract and nurture HMHPs. In her book she takes a behavioral approach, examining HMHPs’ characteristics and responses, and suggesting ways to manage them. The book is written from a decidedly pro-HMHP standpoint, and focuses on coaching HMHPs rather than, for example, telling them that their exasperating behavior had better change or else. Actually, she will persuade you that harnessing the energies of driven personalities is essential for any organization. recommends this book to supervisors, human resource specialists and high-maintenance high-performers (you know who you are).


Learn to Love Your HMHPs

High-maintenance high-performers (HMHPs) may be arrogant, selfish and sometimes frenetic in their determination to get things done. Without them, however, your organization is a ship dead in the water. You may not love them but you can’t live without them.

Here’s how to identify HMHPs:

  • They are goal focused.
  • They are demanding of themselves and others.
  • They think they know the right way to do things, and tend to operate according to their own standards or rules.
  • They are visionary.
  • They don’t take no for an answer.
  • They love independence and freedom, and thrive in entrepreneurial situations.
  • They persist until they achieve their goals.

Communicating with HMHPs

HMHPs can be difficult to work with - hence, high-maintenance. The best way to manage their negative characteristics is to increase your awareness of their particular behavioral patterns. Some managers go so far as to create behavioral profiles of their direct reports.

Once you understand your top performers, you’ll be able to integrate them into the team, persuade them to cede control...

About the Author

Kathi Graham-Leviss has more than 20 years of coaching experience at large sports and media companies. A resident of Rhode Island, she is founder and president of a coaching consultancy.

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