Star Performer Holds Us Ransom

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an annoying top performer: Our star employee likes to harass employees that don’t “work as hard” as him. How do we handle this?

Our star employee likes to harass employees that don’t “work as hard” as him. How do we handle this? If we fire him, we may not make our deadlines. This has been going on for 5 years.

Signed, He’s A Star; We’re Not

Dear┬áHe’s A Star; We’re Not:

Stars that shine brighter sometimes belittle those with lesser light. It ain’t right and those who are told they don’t work as hard would like to dump God’s whole load of hay on top of your star. Your brief note states this kind of unkind behavior has been going on for years. Therefore it is clear that whoever supervises this so-called star has not been managing him as a good coach should and that your work group is not a team.

Might this be corrected after a five-year pattern? Possibly, if your boss is determined to talk straight to the star and to change the way making deadlines is rewarded. A coach puts a star on the bench when she/he fails pass off and/or taunts teammates. A coach says, “Stop!” A coach holds skull sessions that engage all members of the team in answering questions such as: What are we doing well and deserves applause? What can we do to make others’ work easier and more effective? What might we do as a team to cut wasted supplies, time, energy and money?

A coach confers with management to determine what is a reasonable workload and how it should it be measured–by individual commissions, by team performance, by customer satisfaction, by safety records, etc. A coach leads his work team in spelling out the dos and don’ts of how its members speak to and about each other. Talk about talk with a team roots out incivility, arrogance, and disrespect. Talk about talk makes civility expected, the rule rather than the exception.

Team mindedness doesn’t spring from on high. Rather it is shaped by collaboration, by regular skull sessions. Do these thoughts give you some ideas about assertive approaches to coping with a arrogant star? I hope you might help him see that its OK to be pleased with himself, but parading it is out of bounds. Me, me, me should be replaced with we, we, and the word in caps with which I end each Q&A. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden