How to Manage Highly Dominant Employees

Companies are made up of groups of people who function in many ways like a family, complete with all the happy and sad that brings. We all have someone in our family who bluntly expresses their opinion over thanksgiving dinner, and there’s always someone who never speaks up about how they’re really feeling until it slowly simmers into a rolling boil at Christmas. It’s hard for the slow-simmer type to confront a dominant family member, and this same dynamic exists in companies.  So how can we learn to manage high scorers in dominance effectively and encourage their growth? Let’s first take a look at some of the characteristics, strengths and growth areas of high scorers in dominance:

High scorers in Dominance are take-charge, determined, and headstrong people. They tend to be strong, forthright, determined, and able to influence others. They are powerful, and others realize this power.  For a team, these characteristics can have many advantages:

  • They can make strong leaders, especially during stressful times
  • Their strong determination and take-charge tendency can encourage other team members to stay focused on their own tasks and projects. 
  • They are usually willing to take on new challenges and can handle heavy workloads.
  • They aren’t afraid to take risks.

However, when this power and need for control gets out of control, it can overshadow concern for others. This self-centeredness can create in others feelings of intimidation, fear, mistrust and being “bullied.” Other team members may find it annoying and difficult dealing with their dominant colleague, creating interpersonal conflicts within the workplace. Additionally, less assertive employees may feel uncomfortable sharing their opinions and can be dominated in group settings, resulting in the loss of potentially good ideas and a slow manifestation of passive aggressive frustration among those employees. 

As you can see, having high scorers in dominance on your team can reap many benefits but can also create pretty serious issues when their completely dominating every situation. It takes courage to confront this problem, but it’s essential if you want to create a harmonious, productive team. Whether you’re a manager of a highly dominant person, or wanting to learn how to better understand a colleague’s behavior, here are some ideas on how to effectively manage this behavioral trait. 

Be Direct  

When working with a high scorer in dominance, you have to approach them on their level. If you try to suggest something in a meek manner, they’re going to walk all over you. Although it may go against your own natural tendencies, you must be confident, direct, assertive, to the point, and brief in order to be effective. Focus on tangible points and talk about “what” instead of “how”. Focus on business and try to be results-oriented. Make suggestions for how to achieve the goal instead of talking about why it won’t work. 

Call them Out (Nicely) 

High scorers in dominance move quickly and can tend to be impatient, sometimes interrupting while other employee’s are speaking. By calling them out directly (i.e; “I know you want to say something, but we need to hear everyone’s opinion first)  it can help them become aware of when they’re doing that, and help avoid frustration from other employees.

Engage them with Challenging Projects

Being in charge and moving at a fast pace motivates high scorers in dominance. By giving them challenging projects, you can keep High scorers in Dominance engaged and working toward a rewarding goal, while also showing them that you’re invested in their professional growth. 

Focus on the Big Picture

When working with a highly dominant person, it’s important not to focus too much on the negative aspects of their idea or the small details. They are big picture thinkers and may perceive you as negative and not respecting their ideas if you do so.  They will likely offer innovative and progressive ideas and systems, but will need someone else to break down the project and work with the specifics. They may ignore potential risks, not weigh the pros and cons, and not consider the opinions of others.  However, by pairing them with someone that is more detail oriented but is aware of how they work and respond, projects can flow and grow.

Encourage others to Talk 

If you’re leading a meeting and one employee is completely dominating the conversation, redirect the conversation and call on other employees by name to give their thoughts. One technique is to use something they said as a jumping off point and spin it positively. For example, cut in and say, “John, I like what you said about _____.  Craig, what do you think?”  This will help the more submissive, less dominant employees feel valued and discreetly remind the dominant employee that their team’s opinions matter too. Additionally, this can take the anxiety of initiating the expression of their own opinions away from less dominant employees if you lead the way.  

Encourage Self-Awareness

A lot of the time, high scorers in dominance don’t even realize when they’re completely dominating a situation.  Making comments during a meeting is second nature to dominant, extroverted people and they may not realize that their constant comments may be causing more introverted employees to shut down. Using our behavioral assessment and Step Up Report to facilitate a coaching session, you can easily explain your concern, using specific behavioral data, and encourage them to focus more on recognizing the opinions, feelings, and desires of others. It may take some time and insistent reminding for them to be friendlier and more approachable, but once they’ve balanced out their dominating tendencies they’ll be an even more valuable asset to the company.  

In confronting them, here are a few Recommendations for High Scorers in dominance from our Step Up Report:

  • Encourage them to become a better leader by telling them that Leadership is most effective when one demonstrates caring to others. Care is demonstrated by taking the time to listen and solicit the opinions of others.
  • Being in charge, and moving at a fast pace isn’t a bad thing, and there’s no reason to diminish that desire. However, you can be even more effective by learning to slow down every once in a while and demonstrate care for your coworkers.
  • Practice asking others to share their opinions and acknowledge those opinions as valuable, even if you go with your original idea. 

If dominance isn’t one of your key behavioral attributes, confronting a dominant employee or coworker can be a scary and intimidating thing, but it is an essential skill to have as a leader.  Again, everything is about balance. Once you become aware of how they think and realize that dominance isn’t a scary thing to them, you can learn to assert yourself and, consequently, grow yourself and your team. 

Need more help effectively managing dominant employees? Contact us Today!

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