This is a summaries discussion from HRI Mailling List
Date: Wed, 21 May 2003 12:14:16 +0700
From: Ira Rahmawati
Last week, on our way to a long vacation, my friend and I had a discussion about the fact that most of high performers are punished instead of rewarded.
In most companies, when a high performer is identified, here is what usually happen to him:
1. He is kept by his boss in his department. No other department can offer him any opportunity since the boss doesn’t want to lose the ‘safety’ (achieving target is a certainty, not a possibility anymore) that a good performer provides in his department.
2. He is excused from some training opportunities (abroad or local) because
‘he is good already’, or ‘he is so smart he can learn by himself’.
I happen to know a good performer who experience the same things as note above. He had several opportunities of learning more by taking some responsibilities outside his function, but his boss refused to let him go.
He (the good performer) then swore that he would do anything that it takes to make his boss regret taking such decision. He doesn’t stop performing, but stop being ‘nice’.
Some of you may say “No, it doesn’t happen in my company. We always reward good performers.”
I must say that I suspect that the high performer is not that ‘high-performing’. Perhaps his performance is above average, but not really that high that hiss boss experience ‘safety’ (target will always be
achieved, no matter what) for having the brilliant person in his department, and fear that such high performer can not be easily
From: “Iwan Munajat”
Your view is 110 % right. It’s happens many times even It is also depend to the attitude of his superior. One way that may be we can do to help the situation is by having a good and systematic system for succession planning policy. The bosses should accept the fact that his subordinate are people
and not just “tools’ to help him accomplish his job. All bosses have to understand that they have responsibility to improve their subordinate performance and prepare them to move to higher level. He should aware
about that because his bos do the same thing to him. What a challenge !!.
From: “Pupung P. Aisyah”
Just an additional,
How if the fate of the high performance happened to us ?
Imagine…if we were the high performers and have this such “Wise” Boss ?
What should we do?
Any solutions instead of not being nice?
Dear Ira …
I think we’d better to avoid generalization. The story mentioned below does not always represent situation in other companies, because each company has their own policy related to that.
For instance in my coy, if there is a vacant position for the higher level, we have so called “assessment test” – where ALL STAFFS from any division (with certain criterion set by company) will be invited to apply that position before the company looking for outsider source.
The boss does not have the right to hold her/him by all means, because this is really staff personal decision whether they want to apply, and off course she/he must be supported by their good backgroud such as performance, ability, knowledge,…
In such situation, usually boss will encourage much their ‘performer staff’
to apply, because if that particular staff succeed, it’s mean Boss has done good job in creating another leader.
However, if such situation happens at your coy, especially since you are [probably] in HR, why don’t you try to establish a kind of policy for that?
I think having a clear policy related to staff performances & career will make everybody feel secure including the boss –
Ira Rahmawati said :
You’re right. We should avoid generalization.
I must say that the situation in your company is a good one. I assume that the HR department has sufficient resources. Because doing what your company does will require HR dept to perform the selection for more than one vacant position.
Say, if the first vacant position is in marketing, then the new recruit is from operations, the position in operations will be vacant and you will need to find someone to fill in the vacant position in operations, and so on.
The problem with the boss is that there is no formal assessment that reward”creating another leader”.
The reward goes to Achieving andexceeding targets.”
Hence, in many companies the high performers are punished instead of being
Perhaps he gets financial rewards such as high salary increase, but not intellectually because he can not go to other department or function or get extra trainings that will develop him further because, “trainning is not necessary for him.”
You should tell your boss that you need to continue developing.
Tell him that you don’t want to work in his department anymore if there is no changes in your responsibility. Tell him that you will think that you will be at loss if you continue working in his department without new challanges.
Make sure that you pick proper words as not to hurt your boss.
And then, contact your HR Department and let them know that you would like to get the opportunity of developing and use your capability optimumly at a function or level that will utilize your talents.
If it doesn’t work, and you are a real high performer, plenty other companies are waiting for your willingness to join their organizations.
From: “Heru Priy”
First of all, i’m interested with the topic ‘best performer staff always kept by his/her boss’. In my opinion, this condition is a reality in many companies. And it can be happened in a company which have bad hr system or lack of management commitment to run the hr system.
I agree with Mrs Susi opinion, that the problem might be caused of Bad sucession Plan but when we already had a kind of Succession Plan system, is this enough to solve the problem? cause, i found that Top Management likes ‘informal succession plan’ more than the formal one. Any body have a suggestion how to handle such problem?
From: “Shinta, Eka E”
Berdasarkan pengamatan saya terhadap beberapa kejadian “tidak menyenangkan”
(atau punishment dalam istilah Ira) yang menimpa “Brilliant person” dalam dunia kerja, menurut saya diatas segalanya these brilliant person or high performers harus punya kepekaan terhadap nilai perusahaan and show appropriate work attitude, bisa diplomasi menjual diri sehingga bisa meyakinkan dan gain trust dari “promotor” internal yang bisa support dia.
Being a Smart person as well as a wise person. Dengan demikian ada kemungkinan dia terhindar dari “punishment”.
Kenapa ini terjadi karena selama kita deal dengan “penilaian” manusia maka subyektifitas akan selalu ada. System HR yang dibuat hanya untuk meminimalisasi subyektifitas tetapi tidak menghilangkan sama sekali subyektiftas. Dalam dealing dengan subyektiftas inilah peran individu bermain.
Ira Rahmawati said :
The high performer has shone outside his department because of his ‘self-marketing’. That’s why he got several offers. But when the boss had the last word (in his company, the department heads always have the last word about their staffs), he couldn’t go.
I agree with proper succession planning. But proper succession planning is costly and resource consuming and HR department has always been regarded as ‘cost center’, and hence should performe cost-efficiently.
There is another kind of punishment for high performer that also happens in many companies:
When the subordinate is so bright that he shines brighter than his boss, the boss will try to cover him and make sure that his light doesn’t cast outside his box. He is excluded from ‘self-marketing forums’ such as inter-departemental meetings, meeting with directors, ect. while his (the subordinate’s) co-workers participate.
From: “Pupung P. Aisyah”
Many thanks for your challanging advise. I think this is not as simple as we think saying uncomfort thing especially to a high tempered and childish Superior. And This kind of Superior has a great power and authority of decisions dan policies making in the company, because He is not just a Boss but he is the owner of the company, too.
Although the real case doesn’t happen to my self, I’ll pass these advise to the concerned person (my close friend) who works in a family business.
And my last opinion is …..Finally, as we are in optimum condition the last choice would be to the statement : “TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT’, right?
From: “Junus Danie”
Dear Ira and all,
You might be right, depends on the coy you are working for. But, again, please avoid generalization.
If you assess (I think you need to) the competencies of your managers, one of the competency would be “developing others”. Achieving target is every body’s responsibility but developing people is one competency every manager should have. Please refer to “competence at work” by Spencer & Spencer on this.
Yes, sometimes bad things happened to good (competent) people but it does not give a better chance to the incompetent ones.
FYI, we have 3 staffs in HR incld. the Manager which they also functioning as General Affairs. Total employee about 250 at 4 main cities in Indonesia
If you consider that 3 staffs sufficient..then maybe & thanks for the compliment-:)
Yes indeed, as you said.. say if vacant position happen on Marketing Manager, then the operations deputy manager applies & accepted – hence the operations deputy managers position will be vacant. Then there will be vacant position in operation deputy managers then maybe finance supervisor interested to apply – then there will be vacant position in finance supervisors..so on
For your situation, would suggest why don’t you try to ‘positively’ argue your thoughts to the your company if you really want something to be changed. It may take times..
but great things are not done by impulse
About the reward..
Personal reward usually consist of quality reward and quantity reward
The “creating another leader” is suppose to be categorized as quality reward as part of leadership achievement.
If the leader able to create another leader, I think this is one of remarkable achievement of her/his leadership and it is not easy.
Obviously company provides training because there is a NEED.
Just an example, there is a training of “how to use Excel” – off course the person who already expert using Excel shall not take part on that training, eventhough the training program will be held at -:)
There is no end to the great things we can accomplish if we don’t worry about who gets the credit.
From: “G. Suardhika”
Dear Ira and friends,
thank u for bringing the new light to my understanding on managing high performers. In my training, I always said that the best people always bussy because their boss like to give works to them, since the the jobs always get done perfectly. Boss and company tend to be self centered in term of doesn’t care wether the people like that job or not, the important thing is the task is finished (a task oriented situation).
Beside approaching the solution with a system improvement: better performance evaluation and succesion plan system,
I believe developing the right attitude and culture in a company is also important:
a. a right people development and coaching attitude whereas helping staf to find the work they like is important since best and continuous high performance only happened if the people like what their doing
b. And a right leadership attitude, where a leader should always focus in 2 things: made him self self destructed, meaning to develop team that could run ‘without’ him and at the same time always improve and prepare himself for future challange. If the company require a leader to develop,
let’s say, 3 stars before she/he could be promoted then developing stars will
be every leader main task.
From: “G. Suardhika”
If I am not mistaken U say that your HR team always do assesment if there are vacant position, how do U do such an efficient assesment (the assesment method) but still optimal to make sure that the high performer still rewarded fairly and not hide away by their boss Performance Evaluation
Hi Suardhika..morning !
The result of test is open to all participant
For instance, there are 3 candidates, say 1 position as Marketing Manager These 3 candidates (off course upon the Management approval) will do
the same test and the result informed to them all by the Management. So, everything
The assessment test usually done by the 3rd party for some PCT; some test/evaluation also doing by the company interview.. and it will be done not only by his/her boss, and for Manager Level, all the GMs & Vice PD
& PD will be involved.
From these 3 candidates they surely know only 1 will be chosen, means they had been
prepared if fail. Bur they willing to take the risk and in our company, it is common if one staff fail to apply the vacant position, and nothing wrong with that, he/she still possess the current position.
Everybody understands incld. the company that his/her value not lessen just because not pass the assessment.