What Happens When Your Top Performers Don’t Share and Play Well With Others?

The top performers in a workforce are typically a breed apart. They’re relentless learners, intrinsically motivated, and focused on achieving their very high standards – and then raising the bar.

Doubtless, you know who these high performers are in your workplace. And while you certainly appreciate their skill and the results they produce, there may be things you’re less enthusiastic about.

That’s because some top performers – especially those who are highly skilled and have a specialized knowledge base that can take many years to cultivate – don’t always share and play well with others.

Or, in more grown-up terms, they’re often not great at interacting with or leading colleagues.

Frankly, this doesn’t have to be a problem – not when your top performers are fine doing their own thing.

But what happens when you ask them to leave their high performance island and join the group? What happens when these virtuosos are suddenly asked to join the rest of the orchestra and play in harmony?

Unfortunately, the result can be anything but an encore performance.

Instead of cohesion, there’s friction. Instead of working together, there’s conflict. And instead of mentoring and support, there’s bullying and intimidation.

And that’s the crux: what do you do when your top performer(s) are too valuable to let go, but too toxic to keep?

8 thoughts on “What Happens When Your Top Performers Don’t Share and Play Well With Others?”

  1. Yes that is where everyone would have to act like grown ups, wouldn’t they…
    Clear, concise direction from team leader would benefit the cohesion and pre-set expectations and in what way(s) communication and feedback would be handled…Also good if Manager can take a more active role on big projects in the beginning.

    1. Effective leadership is a must! I am a huge believer in clear expectations (some people argue high performers need this less but I continue to stand my ground :). I completely agree that clearly communicating expectations and having follow through when these are met or not met sends the right message and sets the tone for what an ‘A’ player means in a particular company. Thank you for your comment!

  2. Yes that is where everyone would have to act like grown ups, wouldn’t they…
    Clear, concise direction from team leader would benefit the cohesion and pre-set expectations and in what way(s) communication and feedback would be handled…Also good if Manager can take a more active role on big projects in the beginning.

    1. Effective leadership is a must! I am a huge believer in clear expectations (some people argue high performers need this less but I continue to stand my ground :). I completely agree that clearly communicating expectations and having follow through when these are met or not met sends the right message and sets the tone for what an ‘A’ player means in a particular company. Thank you for your comment!

  3. Absolutely, effective leadership would play a vital role in dealing with high performers. Employees in this category are more sensitive. Few don’t want to leave their island & join the group probably due to job security or they might have something unpleasant memory for years…Some are just not great at supporting the team. Some are very smart but just simply don’t want to share their experience with the team. I think it’s a personal trait as well.
    But, the bottom line is the organization needs a TEAM.

  4. Absolutely, effective leadership would play a vital role in dealing with high performers. Employees in this category are more sensitive. Few don’t want to leave their island & join the group probably due to job security or they might have something unpleasant memory for years…Some are just not great at supporting the team. Some are very smart but just simply don’t want to share their experience with the team. I think it’s a personal trait as well.
    But, the bottom line is the organization needs a TEAM.

  5. I agree! I cannot think of any organization in which teamwork is not critical to overall success. Even an individual contributor needs to understand (and accept) that s/he is a cog in the organizational wheel. An effective leaders meets the challenge of knowing their ‘players’ and lining up their talents, preferences and styles so that the overall team works. Thanks for your comment Ravi!

  6. I agree! I cannot think of any organization in which teamwork is not critical to overall success. Even an individual contributor needs to understand (and accept) that s/he is a cog in the organizational wheel. An effective leaders meets the challenge of knowing their ‘players’ and lining up their talents, preferences and styles so that the overall team works. Thanks for your comment Ravi!

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