Friday, February 01, 2019

A Downside to Rock Star Employees

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Sue Schellenbarger of the Wall Street Journal published a column this week titled, "The Downside of Carrying the Most Weight at Work." She describes too much dependence on rock star employees can be a bad thing. Schellenarger points to an interesting study by Ning Li and his colleagues published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The article is titled, "Achieving more with less: Extra milers’ behavioral influences in teams." In that study, Li and his colleagues find that these team rock stars can have a powerful positive influence on team effeciveness. The scholars argue that extra milers enhance a team's "monitoring and backup processes" - thereby enhancing team effectiveness. Li and his colleagues explain:

A high quality team monitoring and backup process involves both monitoring and backup. The monitoring aspect of the process is about developing acceptable behavioral standards and detecting deviations from this standard. The backup aspect, on the other hand, refers to engaging in cooperative behaviors, such as picking up slack, fixing errors and supporting each other. 

Schellenbarger reports, though, that Li's forthcoming publication will highlight a potential negative influence of rock stars. It has to do with the dependency that can form within a team, and how that may adversely affect individual members' creativity. She writes,

Stars who do creative work, however, tend to stifle individual co-workers, discouraging them from developing their own insights, he found in a new study of 94 sales teams and 84 R&D teams set for publication soon. “You somehow create a dependency, so that others rely on you,” says Dr. Li, an associate professor of management and organizations at the University of Iowa.

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