How Your Awesomeness May Become a Workplace Problem

by Bill Swift on June 8, 2015

in Employee Engagement,Performance Management

Weighing Machine

What? How can my awesomeness be a problem? My awesomeness is awesome. It is the other guy’s lack of awesomeness that is the problem.

OK. This one is a little complex but give me a couple of paragraphs to attempt an explanation.

When a highly competent worker takes on some responsibilities where someone else is lacking, this rescue can sometimes become a pattern. Such a pattern of moving to over-responsibility creates an imbalance. And, where this imbalance continues, it leads to resentment. This cycle often continues to push one worker toward being under-responsible and another to be over-responsible, doubling the trouble.

Happens all the time. Sometimes not harmful, often a big problem. It’s the pattern that matters.

Where you have taken away some of my responsibilities, I can move into a victim role and feel less challenged, less engaged and build resentment. What is often lacking is the clear discussion of how these things are happening and perceptions that reinforce them.

Certainly we sometimes need to shift tasks, to reassign to get the right person doing the right job. And we definitely need to be brutally honest with poor performers. The suggestion here is to pay attention to trends that move one worker into less responsibility and authority resulting in lowered confidence and a downward spiral. And watch for the other side, that is our own or another’s competence creating an imbalance of responsibility. Look for trends and cycles that become rigid. Look for patterns that may be eating away from both sides at employee engagement.

There are creative ways to short circuit this viral spiral. Check out The Responsibility Virus by Roger Martin. The key to breaking such a cycle is having clear discussions about how these things are happening and challenging perceptions that reinforce them.

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