GUEST BLOG: Overperforming staff can be a hazard to your business

Where there is a marked difference between an individual and those around them, there is always the chance that this can cause friction. Over-performers often stand out like a sore thumb and not just for their performance.

Whether it's due to their expectation of others to meet their exacting standards or the recognition they constantly covet, high performers can take their toll on a company. Animosity and exclusionism can follow and this can demotivate the over-performer and cause morale and productivity issues in the wider team.

One of the traits of an over-performer is the inability to delegate to others. Believing that nobody has the capability to meet their expectations or do any single job as well as them, they tend to be extremely controlling and micro-manage everybody and everything. This can have a detrimental effect, not only on the abilities of the team who can rapidly lose confidence under the overly watchful eye of the individual, but on their willingness to undertake tasks for fear of endless criticism.

Over-performers brought in to turn around an underperforming team or company often become too relied upon. Unless they change the attitude of others in the workforce who improve their performance before the trouble shooter leaves, the company will suffer from the loss of their greatest driving force and be left with a demoralised and rudderless team.

Over-performers can also have an impact on founders/CEOs, especially of small-mid size businesses. Believing the individual can change their fortunes, the founders place both their hope and in essence, their company, in the hands of the high performer. However, increased performance can often come at a price and before too long the founders can find that they have lost control to that individual.

There are endless discussions on high performers in the role of rainmakers. This is generally a term for solo players who bring in the larger or indeed, largest deals, month after month. Rainmakers are renowned for not being team players, pretty much based on the fact that those that bring in the money make the rules. They will often flout the systems which the rest of the team have to abide by and are well known to have a negative effect on the culture of a team.

An effective leader will learn to harness the rainmaker and to play to their strengths. However, if a leader is weak, the rainmaker will end up becoming a highly disruptive entity within the team, focusing entirely on themselves and their own targets and often running rough shod over the rest of the team.

While an effective leader will harness the rainmaker, the real trick for the most effective of leaders will be to develop the team so the disparity between the rainmaker's performance and that of the rest of the team is minimised.

Over-performers have a 50/50 chance of saving or damaging your business. They can be volatile and need to be handled with care or their propensity towards boredom, demand for praise, and a results-above-everything-else mentality is bound to upset those less zealous around them and could mean the best laid plans for company growth will take a backward step.

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