Working in technology, I have had to deal with my fair share of prima donna engineers. A few characteristic that such engineers share include high technical skill set, low social skills, egotistical, argumentative, arrogant, stubborn, impatent, and overall difficult to work with. Some companies tolerate prima donna engineers because they are willing to overlook the other negative aspects due to their technical contributions. I outline some ways of dealing with prima donna’s here.
One technique is to try to overlook the negative aspects of the prima donna engineer, focus on the value he/she is providing. Another technique is to give the engineer a project that does not require much interaction with others. Alternatively, you can try to find projects where their impact is significant enough their negativity stays at a minimum. Give honest feedback to them, and let them know how their behavior impacts other team members. Lastly, if none of this work, then let them know that their negativity will not be tolerated and they will have to find another place to work.
I had a manager once who would say his hiring strategy is ‘no a**holes’. He was of the opinion that just like a fruit bearing tree which bows down because of the weight of it’s fruit that others may enjoy, a knowledgeable person will be humble to benefit others.
Prima donna’s will require a lot of supervision and monitoring from you as a manager to avoid a negative impact on the team, before you hire them ask yourself if they are worth the trouble.