I think it’s worth asking what in your company culture allowed this to happen.
It reads to me like Rick was treated like the goose that laid the golden eggs. He was sequestered away, optimised for productivity and over-relied on for output.
His character “quirks” was covered for, meaning he wasn’t encouraged to work on overcoming them, and in fact, they were indulged by allowing him to interact with people even less. This is exactly how dependency is fostered by a codependent.
I see a lot of companies do this to their star player. You wouldn’t be the first.
But good management isn’t just about getting more output from your team in fewer hours.
It should include:
- Developing each team member to advance in their career, whether that is head of design, project manager, cto, etc. It means giving them goals outside their productivity skillset and giving them set times in a week to develop those skills. A goal without time is wishful thinking.
- Allowing all problems and issues in a project to be heard without encouraging a culture of interruption for anyone.
- Protecting all team members from burn out.
- Developing team bonding, even in remote workers.
- Training and encouraging staff to give away their legos, to allow for growth.
These things don’t spontaneously happen.
When you signalled to Rick that all you wanted from his was output and more of it, and then ensured that all he saw from people was their problems, it was inevitable that he would develop a “support help desk” mentality: if all you see of people all day long is them not knowing their laptop is unplugged, you’ll think people are stupid.
Rick was a symptom of some terrible management.
Edited because I see in your follow-up comment that you brought in different management.