It is not uncommon to encounter a narcissistic personality in your tech team, but the right approach can help you bring out the best in them.

Without a doubt, every workspace houses various kinds of people and personas. These diverse personalities, although allowing for a fruitful work experience, may not often get along with each other. The most jarring of these personas is the narcissistic personality.

A narcissist is generally characterised by “excessive self-importance”, a quality that often inhibits work culture.

Due to the narcissist’s ability to welcome new and daunting experiences, work through risks and challenges, they often perform their respective tasks well. They excel in cognitive and practical assessments aiding their hiring process. Their extroverted nature and confidence contribute to their ease of performance. However, their lack of empathy and regard for colleagues can hugely demotivate and intimidate employees. So, should every company fire its narcissists to promote a positive work culture? 

Absolutely not. These groups of high-achieving employees in strong tech teams can be managed, addressed, and engaged in a particular way to keep them from impacting the workspace. Through focused interventions from the Human Resource Department, the narcissist’s engagements can be regulated while maximising everyone’s work efficiency.

As we explore the many nuances of the narcissist’s personality, we must keep in mind that there are both positive and negative aspects to them. Companies must encourage their drive and motivation in the workspace while keeping them from draining and inhibiting the atmosphere at work.

Identifying a Workplace Narcissist


Andrew J. DuBrin, in his book, Narcissism in the Workplace: Research Opinion and Practice, describes Narcissism as an extreme, positive, and inflated view of the self, combined with limited empathy for others.

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Undeniably, a good amount of self-importance and belief in one’s skills and talents is fundamental. It allows for a positive perception of the self, encourages taking up tasks, and can be a huge boost to an individual’s confidence levels.

To help us delineate this healthy self-importance from excessive self-centeredness, Professor DuBrin has categorised people into three grades. The first of a fair amount of admiration for the self. Secondly, the moderate narcissist is often viewed as charming and confident. The third and most excessive kind of narcissist is alarming as he/she “hampers success, irritates and alienates others in the workspace as well as in personal life”.

Laurie Cure, in Leading without Fear, has designed a list of narcissistic behaviour in the workspace that may aid in recognising them in our teams. Some alarming behaviours include:

  1. Reluctant to being questioned or challenged
  2. Struggles listening to and engaging with constructive feedback
  3. Inconsiderate of others’ emotions or opinions in problem-solving processes
  4. Extremely competitive and prioritising individual contribution over group effort
  5. Resorting to guilt, manipulation, and shame as means of obtaining/ retaining control

The above categorisation reveals to us that some amount of narcissism is indeed healthy, and can promote work experience and efficiency. Through strategic and critical tactics, HR teams can find ways to handle narcissists. 

Here are some effective ways to deal with a workplace narcissist:

1. Regularly document employee behaviour

Companies should take committed efforts to regularly observe, document, and assess the behaviour of their narcissistic employees. Obtaining adequate documentation of their actions provides a means of holding them accountable, if and when the need arises. Certainly, mild and minor issues can be dealt with through conversation and verbal warnings. But, without adequate documentation, it may be difficult to take up grave issues.

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Narcissists compensate for their actions with excellent social skills, deflecting instances of poor behaviour by impressing bosses and superiors. In such cases, documentation could allow for transparency in and across the administration.

2. Establish job roles and expectations clearly 

Using strategies like manipulation, narcissists often cleverly push roles around, overstep boundaries, and find ways of obtaining what they want. These ways may be convenient to them but are often at the cost of workflow and other employees. To ensure a narcissist performs their job roles efficiently, you may communicate and agree upon their job requirements and roles clearly. Documenting these conversations in agreement and writing also allows for clear communication and due processing.

3. Shift them to a different role 

If you wish to remove the narcissistic employee from your tech team when all other options do not work, you may have to move them to a more independent position for the time being. This is because disciplinary actions tend to go through long administrative processes, which may delay their dismissal. In such a case, you can buy time by moving them into a different department or sector. This will help you restrict their ability to influence both work culture and other teammates.

Key Takeaways 

Companies, much like employees, have to learn how to engage with various kinds of people and processes. Certain personality traits go unnoticed in institutional and learning circles that may become alarming in a workspace.

You can avoid such factors to hinder learners from obtaining and retaining jobs, by opting for CodeQuotient courses that allow upskilling through industry-related assessments. These projects give them opportunities of working towards their portfolios, careers, and their personalities. Through such work assessments, companies can also filter prospects who have performed well with groups, along with inferring their individual achievements. They can also assess, document, and constantly monitor the performance of their employees to intervene in case of a workplace narcissist.

Also Read:  6 Strategies for Non-Tech Recruiters to Source Tech Talent

For more information on how to collaborate with CodeQuotient, send us an email at info@codequotient.com

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