Monkees, star performer, Toby Elwin, blog

Your star performer creates employee resentment

Monkees, Daydream Believer, Toby Elwin, blog

At school, model students can shine above the rest.  Held as scholarly exemplars, with honor society and class rank to herald their deeds, these students are often ready to “help” their class, their school, and their community.

At work, those that shine above others and appear ready and willing to lend a hand risk far more than a roll of their classmate’s eyes for being the teacher’s pet or the valedictorian. These star performers can create resentment in other employees.

In organizations that model employee willing to help others risks outright employee resentment and may perpetuate a performance myth to the organization.

How you identify and manage these star performers may impact more than just your work, but your efforts may impact team motivation and create resentment.

I read about this with interesting in a Human Resource Executive Online article called The Selfless and the Despised:

The Symptom:

  • Those who willing to spend extra time helping other team members, without being asked, can inadvertently alienate their teammates, who may find their behavior off-putting;
  • Organizations depend on the willingness of certain employees to spend additional time helping others without expecting anything in return, yet those [that help other] employees can undermine the organization by arousing their colleagues’ ire;
  • People weren’t negatively reacting to the fact that this type of person was very generous, it was that the person was very generous and asked for little or nothing in return;
  • Selfless team members are not playing by the rules and make the rest of the team look bad

The Cure:

  • Selfless people often make the mistake that others are motivated by their example, when in reality small victories along the way that really motivates a team;
  • Selfless team members can defuse hostility or other unproductive behavior — and inspire the team to even better results — by actively celebrating the team’s achievements;
  • Selfless team members can say, ‘Look, I’m no saint, I’m benefiting from this just as much as you are,’ it would really go a long way toward helping others be more tolerant and accepting;
  • If everyone receives the same carrot when the team hits a realistic target, you flip the dynamic — rather than employees protecting their under-achieving brethren, employees will become the watchdogs of each other

To manage these powder-keg situations you have to devise rewards around the team accomplishment; it is all about team, Team, TEAM goals and needs.

Like a teacher influences how classmates treat each other, a manager also has influence on how teams leverage each other’s strengths.

Three sources I’ve collected for you that the original article did not have links to:

  1. The Seven Arts of Change: Leading Business Transformation That Lasts
  2. The Happiness Advantage:  The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance At Work
  3. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology; The desire to expel unselfish members from the group
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