How to Boost Effective Performance After Onboarding a Star Employee

BY Kathy Crosett
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Corporate leaders have long sought out superstar employees when they want to shake up their organizations. In these regime changes, one management goal is to get effective performance out of their team members. They look for their new hire to set a good example and make tough decisions that existing managers may avoid because of their longstanding personal relationships with team members. What happens when a company brings a heavy hitter into an organization that hasn’t experienced change in a while? The outcomes might not always be positive, unless you actively manage a few aspects of the onboarding experience.

Effective Performance and Your Existing Employees

Companies have relied on new CEOs like Doug Conat at Campbell’s Soup to inspire team members or to turn around a company. In these instances, everyone braces for the changes to come. In other cases, you may bring in a new hire with great potential to inspire everyone to deliver a more effective performance. But what if you’re the only person who has high hopes for the new employee? The rest of your team may feel threatened by the change. 

If you don’t introduce the person properly to the team and set expectations appropriately, you could be looking at a disaster. Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Matthew Call and Elizabeth Campbell point out that your existing team may react to the new whiz kid in a variety of unwanted ways:

  • Envy
  • Sabotage
  • Quiet quitting

In research conducted by the authors, they found “employees who were more motivated to prove themselves to others saw high performers as competition, and thus they became less motivated and performed worse.” You can avoid this outcome by understanding each team member’s motivations. Having your team members take a psychometric assessment will give you this needed insight.

Managers should personalize their coaching to encourage these employees to work toward their own goals. With that kind of focus, the employees may be less likely to make “comparisons to higher performers.”

Managing Your High Performer

Your new employee may be capable of more effective performance than everyone else on the team. For their first few months on the job, they’ll work hard to impress you. You may appreciate their productivity, but you also don’t want to burn them out.

In fact, you need to focus on another important facet of their workplace success: team dynamics.

If your high performer exhibits the right kind of workplace behavior, they may fit well with your team. But if they’ve been impressing the higher-​ups with their productivity, it’s also likely that they’ll “become a target of gossip” or worse. Your existing team members may believe you’re “playing favorites.” And they may try to punish you and the new employee, especially if the newbie hasn’t reached out to make friends.

Most new employees would like to think that the existing team will welcome them with open arms. The truth is your new hire will have to reach out and possibly go more than halfway to find their spot on the team. Researchers found that star employees who work harder than everyone else, instead of acting entitled, find more acceptance among coworkers.

Optimizing The Team

When managers optimize their teams, they’ll want to make sure they don’t put two sales stars together, for example. Too much competition between them could demoralize everyone on the team and reduce effective performance. Managers can ease the tension that comes with adding a power player by pairing them with an employee who’s open to change and not firmly entrenched on any old-​school methodology that some team members may be clinging to. It's always a good idea for managers to understand each team member's work style and motivations. They can learn these details by using psychometric assessments. With this information, the manager can coach each team member to their most effective performance after a new hire is onboarded.

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