10 Ways to Kill Off Your Star Employees

I wrote this post for another publication
in 2014, but it appears they have deleted it. I’m preparing to do a workshop on
how to nurture high potentials and found it in my archives. Still looks
relevant to me!

Warning:
the following article contains a heavy dose of sarcasm. Read at your own risk,
and whatever you do, DO NOT follow the advice!

A
high potential employee is one of your highest performing employees that also
is showing signs of being able to handle greater responsibilities. They are an
organization’s top guns, rising starts, and typically represent the upper 10%
of any organization, or the cream of the crop.

Unfortunately,
organizations don’t always do a good job when it comes to nurturing,
developing, rewarding, and retaining their high potential employees. In fact,
it often seems like they are going out of their way to sabotage their best employees.

Of
course, most organizations don’t intentionally try to kill their high
potentials. It’s just that many managers don’t know how to manage a high
potential, and end up doing well-intended things that get unintended results.
Or – in some cases – they actually do set their high potential employees up for
failure, as a result of feeling threatened or jealousy. 

So
– if you want to kill your high potentials, just follow these 10 steps:

10
Ways to Kill your Best employees:

1.
First of all, recognize that high-potential employees are a threat to your own
job and treat them that way. These eager beavers are always exceeding
expectations, are ambitious, and want nothing more than to step all over you to
climb their career ladder. Watch your back, and keep them on a short leash!

2. Put them in a job rotation program, with a never-ending series of short
assignments with no real accountability or opportunity to contribute. These
people have short attention spans anyway, and will love the variety. Move them
around to remote ends-of-the-earth locations without asking them.
Cost-of-living differences? School systems? Trailing spouses and families?
Cultural differences and hardships? Hey, it’s all part of the development
experience.

3. Because HIPOs are so good, you can ignore them. No need for feedback, as
feedback is only for losers. Great employees are like self-licking ice cream
cones, they need little time or support from their managers. This will free you
up to spend more time on your under-performers, and other important management
responsibilities, like your reading your email
micromanaging the rest of your employees.

4.
Give them impossible and unrealistic goals. We call these “stretch”
assignments, or “development challenges”. And a lot of them too. They’ll need
to learn how to prioritize and learn from their failures. Don’t bother offering
training or coaching to support these stretch goals – save those limited
dollars to spend on your underperforming employees.

5. Although you can call these “developmental”, treat them like assessments, a
never-ending gauntlet of impossible challenges. Then step back and watch them
stumble and fall. When they quit or fall off the fast track, you can
congratulate yourself for being a keen evaluator of talent.

6. Tell everyone around them that they are a HIPO. Give them little “HIPO” name
badges and frequent public displays of affection. Their peers will love them,
welcome them with open arms, and want to be just like them!

7. Make sure they change bosses frequently. You don’t want them to have time to
develop a relationship with any one manager, constant change and variety is
much better. The same is true for mentors – put an end to those relationships before the employee
gets too dependent.

8. Take credit for their accomplishments. That’s one of the few benefits of
managing HIPOs – they do produce fantastic results. Taking credit will help to
keep them humble.

9. Ask them to help out your underperforming employees. This will teach them
how to mentor and coach – they’ll love it!

10. Whatever you do, do not provide them with positive feedback. That would
just swell their inflated egos even more. They already know how good they are,
so it’s more important to point out their faults.

There you go! Follow these steps, and you’ll be sure to end up with nothing but
a team of underperforming, lazy, C player slackers. You can blame it on HR, upper management, or your
organization’s compensation and benefits package.