The Lazy Brainiac

Part 2 of 6 talent management tips. How do you manage that amazing new hire that you discover is lacking emotional intelligence?

We follow up every recruiting placement with a client call or meeting at various intervals to determine if our recruitment and assessment efforts were ultimately successful.  We have found that despite detailed job descriptions and very specific mandates, hiring stakeholders will often rely on their individual gut feelings when determining which of the short-listed candidates is their most preferred.

With memories of the offer negotiation and onboarding fresh in their memory, the hiring managers are often enthusiastically exuberant about their chosen hire through a transitional honeymoon. However, as the weeks go by, other traits may begin to emerge along with the new hire’s superior technical skills. When these traits involve soft skills you can rest assured they won’t go unnoticed by co-workers.  Co-workers are often the first to point out that the new hire’s people skills are less than desirable.

Collectively, we have a 21+ year history of recruiting and assessing key talent and we’ve seen this dynamic many times. Experience has shown us that just because someone looks great on paper, their lack of empathy, entitlement orientation or knack for avoiding responsibility makes them more of a cultural misfit and therefore a negative element to the organization.

As the manager, you don’t need to be an organizational psychologist to do the cause and effect analysis on this dynamic. You simply need to know how to effectively coach, train and manage – The Lazy Brianiac.

The Lazy Brainiac
The Lazy Brainiac is someone that’s exceptionally strong in cognitive intelligence but is lacking in emotional intelligence.

Many hiring managers find themselves with a lazy brainiac because of being overly enamored with the fact that they recruited the best-in-class subject matter expert. Hiring manager’s aren’t immune to some misplaced pride in their hiring abilities and particularly when they feel they’ve hired talent known for their intelligence and technical expertise. 

The lazy brainiac as I describe here is no dummy and certainly knows how to speak to their strengths.  He or she worked long and hard at developing those strengths and in doing so made the mistake of assuming that their soft skills were of equal prowess. However, the lazy brainiac is often found to have less than desirable delivery and execution, not to mention work ethic. The lazy brainiac always seems to have an excuse for failing to meet commitments and their co-workers grow increasingly resentful for this shortcoming.

Strategies for Managing: The lazy brainiac’s exceptional cognitive intelligence can be challenged through asking him or her to provide an honest assessment of their performance. Being challenged to provide an honest and objective analysis of their performance may allow you to expose their inability to prioritize and organize tasks. As their manager, you can help strengthen their organizational skills by breaking tasks down into smaller and more manageable segments. Perhaps you can play on their cognitive skills by having them facilitate group meetings or play a role in client or stakeholder meetings. Its important to note that much of the lazy brainiac’s shortcomings are not immediately conscious. Engaging your lazy brainiac with direct and honest dialogue can go a long way towards ensuring you made the right decision to hire.

Carlos Acosta is the Senior Managing Partner and Practice Leader of The QualiFind Group and can be reached at 619-240-2638 or