Have you become high-maintenance at work?  Has your rock star status gone to your head?  Perhaps one of the most common traps for high performers is the creeping desire for “special” treatment.  After all, haven’t you earned it?  Back in the 1980’s, the band Van Halen took this high maintenance trap to an extreme by stipulating in every contract that “there will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area.”  If they spotted a brown M&M, their temper tantrums were legendary.

But that kind of behavior doesn’t happen in the civilized world of “real” work does it?  Unfortunately, the “high maintenance” trap is an all too common occurrence.  We commonly see it with CEO’s.  One story shared with me over the past week involved a CEO that took the private company jet and then the private company helicopter so he could attend a NASCAR event.  This same CEO also had his own private elevator for just him.  No one else allowed.  O.k., but we aren’t CEO’s.  This wouldn’t happen to us, right?  Very simply, it can happen to anyone.  Have you ever done or do the following:

  • Demand that you will only fly on a certain airline / stay at certain hotels – For those of you who travel, this is one is all-too-common.  Heck, you probably do it.  Perhaps you’ll only fly a particular airline because you’ll get the miles or perhaps you will only stay at a particular hotel chain because of the level of service you receive.  I once had a colleague who refused to stay at a particular hotel chain because of the patterns on the bed spreads.  But you aren’t that bad, right?  You’ve got “real” reasons for your demands.  Sure you do.
  • Refuse to work with certain co-workers – Do you have a list of “incompetent” co-workers that you refuse to work with?  Do you refuse to attend meetings or work on projects with them?  Have you informed your boss of your demands?  Despite your standards for accepting “only the highest quality of work from yourself and others,” you may be more trouble than you are worth.
  • Complain frequently about… well, everything – Do you complain daily about the poor resources you have to work with, the working conditions you are in, and even the amount of time you are allotted to get something done.  If “complain, complain, complain” is how your co-workers might describe you, you may be topping the list of the next round of possible lay-offs.
  • Create a scene – Have you ever gotten so frustrated that you lost your cool?  Perhaps you yelled at your co-workers or you tossed innate objects around the room.  Or maybe you got up on your desk, yelled in pitches that only dogs could hear and caused everyone on your floor to hide under their desks like an elementary school fire drill.  This is not the story you want people to share about you, and believe me, it will be the first thing they tell the new guy.

My guess is that you may be more high maintenance than you think.  We all probably are.  The trick is to stop that slide before it gets out of control.  I have counseled too many “rock stars” that found themselves without a job and only themselves to blame – despite their efforts to blame the bed spreads and their “incompetent” co-workers.