How to Keep Your Star Performers Burning Bright

Written by Elena Giel
Edited by Sam Eisen
Everyone knows that not all individuals are equal when it comes to skills and abilities. Some of us might be more organized, while others excel in stressful situations. The range of variations is endless. So how does this inequality factor into the work place with regards to treatment of employees? A good boss would treat everyone the same in order to keep all employees happy. But a great boss knows that she needs to keep her star performers the happiest without alienating everyone else.

Although our Constitution and our culture dictate that every man is created equal, it becomes quickly apparent to most managers who their most efficient employees are. A great boss must remember, however, that she has to keep her best people in check.  If the star workers are treated in such a way that makes them feel above the law, mayhem would occur, and many other employees would rather leave than deal with such injustices. While it may seem counter intuitive, openly giving perks to the best performers is seen as far more judicial and fair than doing so behind closed doors. Inevitably, other workers will find out about these benefits, whether they are presented confidentially or not.   If done secretly, other employees will feel cheated rather than recognizing that the performers who are being rewarded went above and beyond what is expected of them. In short, when things aren’t done on the up and up, resentment brews and gossip runs rampant. Such secrecy causes the entire culture of the corporation to suffer and can force employees, young and old, to consider taking action. On the other hand, a manager cannot afford to simply ignore her star players. By avoiding star treatment and handling everyone the same, a manager runs the risk of losing talent while retaining the unexceptional.

The perspective of a good boss who tries to treat everyone equally is that all of her employees should like her within reason and have some respect for her. A great boss knows that not everyone will like her, but hopefully with upfront and honest decisions, she can gain the respect of her employees. The perspective of the star player is also very important to consider. As a top performer, it would be easy to take advantage of the perks or the generosity of the boss, eventually alienating fellow workers and upsetting the culture of the corporation. The ideal attitude as a star employee would include appreciating but not abusing the additional perks earned through talent and hard work. It is also vital to consider the rest of the employees: they are the majority of the work force, and allow the firm to meet the bottom line as well as making a profit. Said employees should consider that if the top performers are happy, and thus perform well, everyone will benefit.  If the average employee understands the situation as such, it is unlikely they would resent the very people that are helping their organization succeed.  How to treat a star player is a topic that most will avoid talking about but it is a common circumstance in the workplace.

Recognizing this situation will give you the organizational behavior skills necessary to adeptly navigate through potentially sticky situations and come out on top, whether you are the boss, star, or another employee.


**Due to technical difficulties we recently had to switch domains and transfer all of our website content.  Please keep in mind that while we have been publishing articles for two years, the published dates shown may not reflect the initial publish date.


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