Tag Archives: performer

HR Article :- Managing the Star Performer No One want to work

17 Oct

Behold the star performers! Able to surpass goals without breaking a sweat, quick to grasp new organizational missions, brighter than 90 percent of their colleagues, these special employees are technically superior to, well, even their superiors.

But like most superheroes, star performers may have a dark side. What if the best, fastest employee has a few quirks that set the rest of the team on edge? Is it worth poisoning a culture to retain an employee whose behavior isn’t consistent with the organization’s values? And if a star performer is truly outperforming his or her peers, how can the talent manager justify redirecting his or her behavior?

Tiziana Casciaro and Miguel Sousa Lobo – authors of the Harvard Business School study “Competent Jerks, Lovable Fools, and the Formation of Social Networks” – said people who like each other typically share similar values and ways of thinking, making it difficult to generate fresh ideas. Further, most individuals avoid skilled but unpleasant colleagues, leaving competent jerks’ expertise untapped.

The authors contend most employees would rather work with someone less competent because that person may be more pleasant, more open to other’s ideas and more willing to share their own. They may even be perceived as more trustworthy.

Talent leaders might consider the following tips to help solve star-performer issues:

1. Hold employees accountable for what they do and how they do it.
Rick Lepsinger, president of OnPoint Consulting, understands firsthand how difficult dealing with star performers can be. Ed* generated nearly triple the revenue of his peers but treated people badly. Lepsinger was hesitant to address this issue because of Ed’s performance. But not acting sooner was a mistake because Ed was a gossiper who damaged morale and other employees’ productivity.

“As soon as I became aware of the behavior and its impact I should have told Ed, ‘I love your work, but your treatment of others is not how we do things around here. Your behavior needs to change immediately,'” Lepsinger said.

How employees treat one another is as important as their revenue-generating ability. Lepsinger said the key to managing employees like Ed who are top producers but who poison the team culture is consistency and holding them accountable for their behaviors, as well as their performance targets.

“Managers must be willing to risk losing the employee,” he explained. “To not hold everyone accountable for their behavior undermines the company’s values and turns them into meaningless platitudes.”

2. Recognize team performance, not just star performance.
Top performers often get recognition that can overshadow the hard work of others who supported them. To address this, develop a team-based performance-recognition system.

“When someone helps another person, that person should be acknowledged and thanked,” said Executive Coach Lauren Sontag. “Sometimes the star performer may need to be reminded of the long-term benefits of sharing credit, rather than taking full credit.”

3. Use 360 tools as a feedback mechanism.
Star performers need to know they will face consequences for negative behavior. Using 360 tools is like holding up a mirror so the star performer can see the results of their actions. It is equally important to have direct feedback sessions with star performers so they know the exact consequences of not changing their behavior.

4. Ensure star-performer criteria are known and shared.
That criteria is based on the cultural norms of each company. Ted Elias, director of talent management at TIAA-CREF, has helped others face this challenge.

Elias once consulted with Sandy*, a star performer who came from a large, results-driven, hard-charging pharmaceutical company. Sandy moved to a nonprofit organization that valued relationships first, results second. She is still struggling to adjust her style to her new environment. “My challenge is to help Sandy understand the new norms of the organization and what it will take for her to excel in this environment.

“Sandy’s company should ensure that ‘relationship orientation’ is identified as a leadership value, and it should articulate where ‘driving for results’ stands relative to other values,” Elias said.

5. Set expectations of appropriate behavior for all employees during the selection process.
Some selection processes include conducting assessments to determine if the candidate is a team player, how he or she reacts to recognition, as well as coaching ability.

6. Hold managers accountable for helping the star performer change his or her behavior.
Most star performers are excellent at what they do. But like Lepsinger, sometimes managers are reluctant to hold them accountable for unacceptable behavior.

Christine Birnbaum, director of organizational effectiveness at New York Life Investment Management, said, “Even if an employee does the work of three people, they may need to change their behavior, or it can be a career ender for them. Some managers used to say, ‘Well, that’s just how she is.’ That justification is no longer accepted. The manager is accountable for communicating this through performance appraisals, ongoing coaching and individual development plans.”

Birnbaum worked with a senior star performer who had a habit of unmercifully attacking others if their performance was not up to his standards. Rather than focus on aspects of the employee’s performance requiring improvement, the star performer would berate the employee, use unnecessarily harsh and inappropriate language and create an antagonistic environment.

“I went to his manager to make him aware of this behavior and indicated this needed to be addressed immediately,” she said. “I also emphasized that the manager was accountable for working with the individual to change their behavior.”

7. Pay attention to interpersonal skills.
Star performers often have come up through the ranks by producing, producing, producing and churning stuff out – and neglecting the grooming of their interpersonal relations.

“In general, they are not mean people, but they may not relate well to colleagues, and then don’t understand when their career stalls,” said Sontag. Further, at some point technical expertise is assumed and leadership skills become more important.

How do you help star performers understand they need to create relationships? “Frankly, it usually takes them running into walls for awhile,” said Sontag. “I help coach them by ensuring they know who their stakeholders are and who is important in their career. In some cases, I put a greater priority on social activities, such as lunches with business associates, and less of a priority on e-mails as a way to communicate. I literally help them regiment their social interactions.”

8. Isolate the star performer’s role.
Consider modifying the person’s role to become more of an expert, individual contributor or one-person function. Ensure the new role will highlight the star’s best qualities and will minimize a negative impact on the rest of the organization. Again, be sure to communicate why this change is happening by emphasizing the star’s good qualities and developmental needs. Without this direct feedback, the star’s glow may eventually fade.

Sometimes, talent managers need to hit ’em in the pocket book. It can be tempting for a star performer to ignore unflattering feedback when he or she is bringing in a tremendous amount of revenue. After giving direct feedback to a star performer, sometimes the manager needs to cut the bonus and, again, explain why.

9. Encourage a star performer to fail.
Star performers literally can be trapped by their accomplishments. When people don’t know something, they often are more open to learn. But when people know something quite well, they are often invested in being an expert. That can be limiting.

Encourage the star performer to take risks, try new assignments, jobs and work styles.

During her June Harvard University commencement speech, J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter book series, said, “The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are, ever after, secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity. Such knowledge is a true gist, for all that it is painfully won, and it has been worth more to me than any qualification I ever earned.”

Being smart, exceeding goals, creating unique strategies and surpassing performance expectations is not enough.

The star performer also should have superior interpersonal skills and a keen awareness of how his or her actions impact others.

[About the Author: Susan Kushnir is an organizational development specialist for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.]


Pinal Mehta