Finweek English Edition - - MANAGEMENT -

There are hun­dreds of ar­ti­cles and ad­vice col­umns ded­i­cated to man­ag­ing dif­fi­cult em­ploy­ees, but what ex­actly should you do when that dif­fi­cult per­son is your star player?

“Most busi­ness own­ers have en­coun­tered one of the most trou­ble­some types of em­ployee, the t ype I call the ‘ high­per­form­ing bad ap­ple,’ says man­age­ment con­sul­tant and au­thor John Treace. “Th­ese are in­di­vid­u­als who typ­i­cally do great work ‒ they’re sharp, knowl­edge­able, and inf lu­ence oth­ers ‒ but have a per­va­sive bad at­ti­tude, chal­lenge com­pany pol­icy or author­ity, and con­stantly grouse about work.”

Dif­fi­cult star em­ploy­ees, like Vet­tel in this sit­u­a­tion, can throw you into a catch-22 dilemma be­cause of the value they add to your in­sti­tu­tion. Most man­agers get side­lined by this, and fail to cre­ate a bal­ance be­tween re­ward­ing that in­di­vid­ual’s per­for­mance and nur­tur­ing the best in­ter­ests of the team. Top per­form­ers t yp­i­cally de­velop a feel­ing of im­mu­nity when they’re given a level of spe­cia l t reat­ment and a re not held ac­count­able when they mess up.

Sim­i­larly, qui­eter co-work­ers will be made to feel un­der­val­ued if a man­ager is not ob­ser­vant enough to recog­nise the is­sue with­out it be­ing pointed out to that per­son. Re­gard­less of your feel­ings to­wards your top em­ployee, if he/she is dis­rupt­ing team mo­rale and caus­ing un­easi­ness within the group, it is im­por­tant to ad­dress the prob­lem im­me­di­ately a nd openly, a nd i f t he i s s ue per­sists, start to think about whether you really need that par­tic­u­lar in­di­vid­ual in or­der to main­tain success. What­ever you do, don’t ig­nore the prob­lem.

“Ev­ery suc­cess­ful coach knows that a team of stars is not a team un­less some of those stars are will­ing to chan­nel their for­mi­da­ble tal­ents to team rather than in­di­vid­ual ex­cel­lence,” says John Bal­doni in the Har­vard Busi­ness Re­view. “Hav­ing a team of es­pe­cially tal­ented peo­ple may be a man­ager’s gift ‒ but un­less he/she can har­ness the in­di­vid­u­als to work col­lec­tively, it ’s a wasted gift.”

Se­bas­tian Vet­tel

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