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Marlon Brando: An Example of a Difficult Employee

When I was growing up, I often heard Marlon Brando’s voice at my parent’s house. No, we did not live in Hollywood. However, my dad was such a fan of The Godfather that the movie constantly played on our TV. My dad said many times that there will never be another actor quite like Marlon Brando.

Marlon Brando is widely considered one of the greatest actors of all time and made a significant impact on film acting. He also had a reputation for being difficult to work with, often unwilling to memorize his lines and had odd and childish demands. As a result he was almost not cast in The Godfather due to his reputation. Can you image if Brando didn’t play Vito Corleone?

It seems that some people are just born to be difficult. Naturally, no one wants to work with a difficult employee. But what do you do when one of your most valuable employees – one you really need on the team – is a pain and troublemaker who aggravates everyone?

Many managers simply ignore the problematic staffer, which is not beneficial to anyone. There are ways to deal with difficult employees. The article “Crabs, Cranks, and Curmudgeons: How to Manage Difficult People” discusses several ways to handle a problematic employee.

1. Make sure the employee is on the right job and has the right training.

2. Determine if the job itself requires the person to be difficult.

3. Assess the group dynamic and make sure there are other personalities in the group to neutralize the difficult person.

The author of the article also recommends turning to 360 Feedback, in which an employee’s performances is assessed by coworkers. The broad scope and fairness of the feedback helps the participant understand how others perceive them. Obtaining feedback is also beneficial for goal setting and clarifying the roles of managers and individual contributors in the organization.

Francis Ford Coppola found a way to work with Brando, one of the most difficult actors in Hollywood. Brando won an Academy Award for his intelligent performance of Vito Corleone and many said that he lent more humanity to what otherwise could have been a cliché role. Recently, Francis Ford Coppola said in an interview that Brando was just a “misunderstood eccentric”.

Now it’s your turn. What is your advice for managing or working with difficult employees?

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