Friday 6 September 2019 5:04 am

Is your star employee all they're cracked up to be?

Marianne Page is the founder of Marianne Page Ltd. and the author of Simple Logical Repeatable.

YOUR star employee brings in the money, keeps the customers smiling, and boosts your online reviews. On the surface, they are driving your business forward single-handedly. 

You can’t imagine things without them. They’re indispensable, and the thought of them leaving brings you out in a cold sweat – the firm would never survive. But is this the case?

Look into the background. Are they over promising, forcing the rest of your conscientious team to scramble around, trying to meet unrealistic deadlines? Your best employee’s success may well come at the cost of increasing your team’s stress level. 

No wonder one person is bringing in more dosh than the others – the rest of the team are too busy picking up the pieces to be able to sell anything. In fact, the customer service is down to those guys in the background who are silently (or not so silently in some cases) cursing your star achiever.

And at the end of the month, resentment builds further when they scoop up the bonus which rightfully belongs to the team as a whole.

Does any of this sound familiar? We’ve all been in a situation where a member of the team is an absolute nightmare to manage, but they bring in the results. But why are they so difficult to manage? And at what cost do they bring in these results?

Here’s another scenario. Perhaps your best employee is receiving excellent customer reviews and feedback, far exceeding their colleagues. 

Of course, they could be genuinely brilliant – or are they offering free upgrades? If you’re working in hospitality, maybe they’re giving away free food and drink? This success is only surface-deep if it’s cutting into the company’s profit margin. 

Maybe they’re difficult because when you explain this to them, they are remorseful, but then immediately slip back into the same routine.

What about the team clown? They are great for morale, keeping energy levels up, and creating a buzz in the office. But perhaps they’re difficult because they’re flaky and forget to attend meetings, or they’re always late, or are constantly making mistakes that their colleagues cover up?

There are so many scenarios that I could go on forever, but the way to tackle this problem is the same across the board: be consistent. 

Treat everyone the same, even if some  produce great results and you’re tempted to overlook things. Short-term special treatment leads to long-term resentment from the rest of the team.

After all, your business is only a success because of your team. Each member of the team drives your business forward in some way, and deserves to be rewarded if they’re brilliant, and given constructive feedback if they’re not. You can’t reward excellence but ignore misdemeanors, because that simply isn’t fair.

The way to deliver this sort of feedback is away from the others, so that the individual is not embarrassed. Acknowledge the fact that they’re doing a great job, but highlight what’s not so great, and advise them in a constructive way how you would like them to do it differently next time. 

Tell them how they affect the team or the business, and explain why it’s so important that they make changes. Also, make sure that you record this, monitor regularly, and repeat the feedback if there’s no change.

At the end of the day, no one is indispensable. If they’re going to continue to be disruptive, there will come a time when you’ll have to let them go. 

We all hate this part – especially if you like the person involved – but if they’re not fulfilling their role and performing to the standards clearly set out then ask yourself: are they really invested in my business? Do they care? Would the team be more productive without them?

You’ll soon realise that in fact, they’re not your best employee at all.

Main image: Getty

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.