The downside of being the star employee

Star employees who always go the extra mile at work have it made. They bask in praise from bosses, customers and clients.

Except when they don’t. According to new research, these extra-milers also risk burning out, The Wall Street Journal reports, becoming a bottleneck on their teams or overshadowing co-workers who stop learning and growing, new research shows.

Extra milers can make a staggering difference on the job. A top retail salesperson at a well-run store might sell eight times more than an average department-store employee, and an ace software developer at Apple might write nine times more usable code each day than the average Silicon Valley developer, says Michael Mankins, co-author of “Time, Talent and Energy.” On average, star performers are 51% more productive than others in their field, says Mankins, a partner in San Francisco with Bain & Co.

Many extra-milers also raise the overall output of their teams, says Ning Li, lead author of a 2015 study of 87 work teams. Stars who do creative work, however, tend to stifle individual co-workers, discouraging them from developing their own insight.   

Colleagues often fight for time with a star-in-residence, creating bottlenecks that slow everyone’s work. The likelihood that extra-milers will quit rises with the share of colleagues who complain about not having enough time with them, says Rob Cross, a professor at Babson College and head of Connected Commons, a 70-employer consortium studying collaboration.

Read the full story.

View Comments