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Seven Things to Expect From Your Narcissistic Employee

Seven Things to Expect From Your Narcissistic Employee


For those of you in business below is a good article in what to look out for when employing staff. Over confidence is not always a good thing.

The narcissistic personality trait describes individuals that believe they are special, have a sense of entitlement, require excessive admiration, lack empathy, are interpersonally exploitive, and are arrogant and haughty. As defined by one of its most frequently used measures, the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI, Raskin & Hall, 1981), there are four dimensions to the narcissistic personality (Emmons, 1984):

1. Exploitiveness/Entitlement: The belief that one is adept at manipulating people and is entitled to do so.

2. Leadership/Authority: The belief that one possesses an extraordinary ability to influence others and thus prefers positions of leadership and authority.

3. Superiority/Arrogance: The belief that one is just better than others and is a born leader.

4. Self-absorption/Self-admiration: An elevated sense of vanity and the belief that one is special.

Surprisingly, there is very little research on narcissism published in the top management and industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology journals (e.g. Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior). One of the field’s best researchers, Timothy Judge, along with Jeffery LePine and Bruce Rich, published a study in the Journal of Applied Psychology in 2006 entitled “Loving Yourself Abundantly: Relationship of the Narcissistic Personality to Self- and Other Perceptions of Workplace Deviance, Leadership, and Task and Contextual Performance.”

Based on their findings, here are seven things you should expect to see from a narcissistic employee:

1. Narcissists are likely to also be extraverted and agreeable, but unlikely to be open to experience, conscientious, and emotionally stable.

2. Narcissists may be detrimental in team contexts that require cooperation and a positive climate. Because they are interpersonally abrasive and dismissive, narcissists don’t make good team players.

3. Narcissists may breed competitiveness and distrust among other employees because of their grandiose sense of self-importance and belief that they are an extraordinary performer.

4. Narcissists may be very problematic in any rating system where they are required to provide a self-rating. You can expect the narcissist’s self-rating to be even more inflated than the self-ratings of other employees.

5. A narcissist that is forced to admit he or she has not performed well may disparage those who outperform him or her.

6. A narcissist that receives an unfavorable evaluation can be expected to disparage the unfavorable evaluator and possible even become aggressive.

7. A narcissist may be detrimental in jobs where a realistic conception of one’s talents and abilities are critical. For example, expect the narcissist to be an overconfident negotiator, which can be a huge liability.

Avoid hiring a narcissist if possible. Ironically, as Robert Hogan points out, “narcissists and psychopaths excel during interviews.” And unfortunately, there is very little evidence-based advice on how to manage the narcissistic employee you find yourself stuck with.

If you think you work with a strong narcissist, remember these seven points and anticipate their behavior in certain situations. Be prepared. The narcissists strong personality will dominate weak situations, so even more so than your other employees, make sure the narcissist is working in a strong system with clearly defined and consistently reinforced behavioral expectations.

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