Brilliant, over-performing employees… How should we manage them?

N°323a – Synthèse (8 p.) – Manager-coach
Brilliant, over-performing employees… How should we manage them?
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Managing outstanding employees creates real challenges in terms of integration and support. How can you take inspiration from the experience of coaches of legendary sports teams to manage these “star” employees?

In a majority of organizations, some “star” employees perform exceptionally well: the technical expert who is sometimes the only one to have a comprehensive view of the product and is able to resolve problems that seem insoluble to others, the salesperson who achieves results three to five times greater than the median, the manager for a key account without whom the company might risk losing its most profitable client, or the genius innovator who knows how to imagine tomorrow’s offerings… In 2014, Google thus determined that 26% of its added value stemmed from just 5% of its employees.

These exceptional talents have a disproportionate impact on collective performance. Not only is their own performance invaluable, but they tend to pull the performance of all of their colleagues upward. And yet, this lever effect only manifests itself if we know how to take advantage of these extraordinary abilities, and how to manage the specific needs of often atypical personalities.

The example of coaches of high-level athletes is particularly inspiring. For instance, the series The Last Dance takes a behind-the-scenes look at the rise of the Chicago Bulls team of the 1990’s. It reveals the deft touch that the team’s then-coach, Phil Jackson, had to deploy to get star players—Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman—, with personalities and egos as strong as they were different, to work together. The documentary underlines the importance of the personalized relationship he was able to establish with each of his players.

In many regards, executives are faced with the same challenges. Employees who are experts in their field, high performers and endowed with strong intrinsic motivation, require adapted management. The chief issue is helping them to reach their potential and to manage their moments of frustration or impatience. This work requires taking on a manager-coach posture, based on listening, mutual respect and carefully measured stimulation—all while maintaining equilibrium and fairness in regard to the rest of the team. What lessons can we draw from the world of sports to help our best talents to express their full potential?

In this synopsis:
– Remotivating over-performing employees: how do sports coaches do it?
– The keys to a fruitful coach-champion relationship
– Managing a conflict with a “star” employee

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