The Know It All

Imagine you are attending a staff meeting. Employees can barely get a word in as the manager hogs the entire time, apparently trying to impress everyone with his or her extensive knowledge. Later you are asked to attend a senior management meeting of which you are not usually a part, but you have certain information they needed. This same manager from the staff meeting is present and again takes over the conversation. Have you ever worked with someone like this? There can be any number of reasons why they feel compelled to control every situation. Perhaps they are insecure and this is a way to compensate or they are basically a verbal bully. Maybe they really want people to know how smart they are. No matter the reason, the know it all can be one of the most irritating coworkers you will ever encounter. This is magnified if they are the boss or owner of the company. At some point, nearly every company encounters a know it all.

They’re Everywhere

We see these kinds of people everywhere. They exist at work, church, and even in recreation. As a regular tennis player I have occasionally encountered them on the court. They are the ones who always can tell others what they did wrong. They act like they never make a mistake on a call. They irritate others on their own team and the opposing team. In short, they are no fun to be around.

This is Serious

A know it all can create significant problems in any organization. They can intimidate others, thus reducing their participation and contribution. They can cause others to shut down to the give and take of ideas essential to developing creative and practical solutions. They can create an atmosphere where others are hesitant to participate and decide to just stick to their own little area in order to avoid contact with this person as much as possible.

Whatever, They Must Be Stopped

Whatever the situation, the know it all must be stopped; even if they are the boss or owner. That may not be easy to do, but the consequences of not doing so can be serious. This process can start with a face-to-face meeting in private. I remember doing this a number of years ago when I encountered a V.P. of Finance who was verbally brutalizing his employees when he needed something in a hurry. In essence, he was a know it all who was not interested in hearing what others thought, at least not when he was under time pressure. In our private conversation he actually acknowledged the error of his ways, and there was an almost immediate change in how he treated others; not a complete turn-around but significant change. Sometimes it may take more than one person to address the issue to make the person realize the negative impact they are having on others. If the individual in question is in other regards a good employee or owner, it is worth making a serious effort to create this change in behavior. However, not everyone is willing to listen and try to make changes. Sometimes there is no other recourse but to terminate the offending employee. If the offender is the boss or owner, refuses to change, and is not going to leave, then as difficult as it may be, it just may be time to move on. Even then, do it with grace. After all, you’re not trying to punish the person, just get out of what is an unacceptable situation.

What about you? Have you ever encountered a know it all individual? How did you resolve the issue?

If you want to know more, contact AimCFO – Contact

As always, your comments are welcomed.


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