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How to Identify a Corporate OOP (Overconfident Oblivious Person)

Do you have any OOPs on your staff? You do if any of your employees are overconfident, oblivious people. Find out how to find them and what to do next.

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The following excerpt is from Benjamin Gilad and Mark Chussil’s book The New Employee Manual: A No-Holds-Barred Look at Corporate Life. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound or click here to buy it directly from us and SAVE 60% on this book when you use code CAREER2021 through 4/17/21.

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Let’s zoom inside the inner workings of your staff. We’re going to provide you with quick, telltale signs of OOPs (Overconfident Oblivious Person): employees who lack the skills to compete.

It can take time to detect employees who lack the skills to compete. They may hide their uncompetitive mentality under a rational exterior. They may appear to be respectable corporate citizens. They may impress and charm their way into your heart.

There are some behaviors that automatically mark their owner as an OOP. Knowing them will save you a lot of heartache. OOPs are everywhere, so we’re going to identify the most-likely OOP sites in your office. The first place to look for invasive OOPs is your overflowing, never-ending source of missed meanings, jargon, and general lack of clarity: your inbox.

Related: 4 Ways to Put Your Employees on a Fast Track Out the Door

You’ve got OOP mail

OOPs love sending email. They love showing you how much they know, who they know, how much they know about who they know, and how much they can improve the company with their strategic ideas. Even more, they love showing you how much they think they’re being competitive, when they’re really just stringing together word salad that has no real competitive drive. Let’s take a look at these inside-the-house offenders:

  • Anyone who sends an email with the subject line “Market Analysis: 2050–2060,” 17 attachments, and an introduction that begins with “To: Distribution List.”
  • Anyone who sends an email saying, “Here’s how we can save money for our company!” with ideas such as “recharge your phone at home.” You’ll know it’s an uber-OOP if the CEO is cc’d.
  • Anyone whose emails state, “I’d like to start our next meeting on time” and then shows up half an hour late and explains they had an important phone call.
  • Anyone who widely shares a 2003 article from a famous consulting firm and adds: “Ideas that never go out of fashion.”
  • Anyone who asks for “all the information we have on Company X” without specifying why.

Related: 3 Ways to Retool Your Hiring Process to Attract High-Quality Job Seekers

You’ve got OOPdates

LinkedIn recognizes a class of bestselling bloggers/ authors/speakers/pain-in-the-neck/goody-two-shoes “men­tors” and pushes their posts to millions. The Influencers are prolific publishers, coming up with new variations on their incredible wisdom every week. Or twice a week. Their advice always concerns how to behave, so we assume most of them are unemployed wanna-be bestselling authors, keynote speakers, etc., masquerading as bestselling bloggers/authors/speakers, etc. The heading is always in the form of a list: “10 Ways Remarkably Polite People Are More Successful,” “7 Habits of People with Remarkable Mental Toughness,” “The 5 Things You Should Never Say in an Interview,” and “The 5 Things You Should Always Say in an Interview.” Logic is not the strength of those incredible thinkers.

The influencers have many fans. Hundreds of thousands of eyes look at their formulaic essays. Out of those hundreds of thousands, at least a few thousand go to the extreme of expressing that they “like” the essay. And then there are a few hundred dedicated com­mentators. If you find that your employees are among the influencers’ active fans, just know that you may have an OOP on your hands.

Related: You Don't Have to Be the Loudest Voice in the Room to Make an Impact

What do you do with your OOPs?

There is a common theme to the OOPs on your staff: They’re sloppy thinkers. They’re not bad people; they work hard; they take their jobs seriously. They’re just not skilled at competing.

From a 30,000-foot view, you should continually look for opportunities to expand your employees’ perspectives genuinely and meaningfully because that is one of the most effective ways to compete successfully. Look for fresh ideas outside your industry’s confines and your business’ walls -- it’s a logical move for companies wishing to stay competitive.

Companies whose managers and employees lose the finger on the market’s pulse and listen only to the voices in their heads turn out, over time, to lose their way. Competing well requires understanding the perspectives of third parties: customers, competitors, disruptors, regulators, distributors, suppliers, even potential customers. Tunnel vision enables and empowers “disruptors,” and offers them the company’s lunch. Think of it this way: There’s nothing, literally nothing, that a disruptor can do that well-heeled, well-established incumbents cannot do first. Disruptors don’t know more than incumbents because they have magic disruptor DNA. They know more because they look for more.

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Benjamin Gilad

Written By

Benjamin Gilad is a former Rutgers University's School of Management professor, a former police detective, the author of six business books and one novel, the creator of war gaming methodology for business enterprise and the co-founder of a training academy for competitive intelligence analysts.