‘Going the extra mile’ can disturb team dynamics

As employees, we are always encouraged to go an extra mile, but this can also lead to internal conflicts. Here’s how…

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In a team, there always will be some who are more enthusiastic and passionate about work — people who go beyond what is expected of them at work. That means, they end up delivering more than their KRA or daily responsibilities and duties. These overly enthusiastic team members are basically the high potentials of the organisation. Given how competitive the business environment is, when there are big teams, competitiveness exists internally, within teams as well, and not just externally.

In situations where one individual is highly motivated, better and brighter, that very person starts to make others around him insecure. Why? Because, in trying to go that extra mile beyond their KRAs and assigned responsibilities, these highly-motivated individuals end up trespassing upon other people’s territory. After all, these individuals are not just good at many things but better at them than the others.

“The managers need to clarify to the others why more responsibilities and importance are being given to the high performers. Such fast feedback and clear communication can prevent conflicts”

Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy

Sharad Sharma, CHRO, Premerica Life Insurance, shares an experience from one of his past stints, wherein a young individual joined a company in a particular function. Being better at many things, he began to deliver far beyond what was expected of him. Even the CXOs found that his ideas and inputs were far more innovative and better than the ones presented by the more experienced people around him. Gradually, there came a point when he was doing the job of his own boss. He grew so fast that within a year he succeeded his own boss!

How did he do it? By trespassing upon his boss’ area of work. He took over all the responsibilities and work that his manager/boss should have been doing. This created insecurity in those around him. To pull him down, these insecure people bad mouthed him and called him culturally unfit for the company. Fortunately, that youth had the support of a CXO, who guided him through this. “The senior leadership team just could not take their eyes off him. He was very bright,” recalls Sharma. The senior leaders were aware that amidst others trying to pull him down, if the young man himself made a mistake, things could go awry. “A high performer delivering far beyond expectations, needs to be very humble and down to earth. Any sign of arrogance can go against such a go getter,” points out Sharma. In the incident Sharma recounted, the youth was lucky that the senior leaders had his back, and were able to mentor him through his growth journey till things eventually settled down. The organisation had identified him as a highly motivated individual who performed far better than others, which made him important for them. Therefore, the company nurtured him and focussed on his growth.

“The one’s who feel insecure need to collar up and seize the growth opportunities that come their way”

Mangesh Bhide, head-HR – technology & FTTx business, Reliance Jio Infocomm

This incident shows that those who outshine others, and start to encroach others’ territories, end up offending those others. They cause the others to feel insecure and unsettled, which does lead to workplace politics and conflicts.

One of the CHROs HRKatha spoke to, had personally faced such a situation where his boss was not really performing at an optimum level. As the said CHRO himself had enthusiastically gone beyond his own duties and taken on the responsibilities of his boss too, he was promoted to his boss’ position.

Speaking to HRKatha, Pradyumna Pandey, CHRO, Mother Dairy, feels that if someone goes beyond their KRA, and if their overenthusiasm happens to be unsettling for the others in the team, immediate managers should intervene, and communicate facts efficiently and fast. “Such scenarios are quite common in the business world. Highly engaged people who go beyond the line of duty get noticed and end up enjoying more importance from the managers,” says Pandey. He adds, “The managers need to clarify to the others why more responsibilities and importance are being given to the high performers. Such fast feedback and clear communication can prevent conflicts.”

In short, the manager needs to ensure that there is no ambiguity around the success of a particular team member and others in the team are clear why one is more favoured or preferred over the others.

Mangesh Bhide, head-HR – technology & FTTx business, Reliance Jio Infocomm, agrees that in such cases managers have a big role to play. Instead of indulging in any comparison, the managers should act as mentors and coaches. “Every employee in the company has a role to play. The organisation does not thrive only upon high performers. The others also play their part in fulfilling the objectives of the organisation,” points out Bhide.

“A high performer delivering far beyond expectations, needs to be very humble and down to earth. Any sign of arrogance can go against such a go getter”

Sharad Sharma, CHRO, Premerica Life Insurance

Additionally, Bhide’s advise to those around the high performer — that is, those who feel insecure by the individual’s extraordinary growth — is that they should look deep within themselves and introspect rather than feel anxious and threatened. “They need to collar up and seize the growth opportunities that come their way,” suggests Bhide.

In fact, Sharma says that there is no such thing as trespassing upon someone’s territory in an organisation. It should be clear to every employee that each one is working towards accomplishing organisational goals.

Of course, there will be scenarios where one individual may outshine others and even perform their share of the work better than them, but it is the culture of the organisation that will ultimately encourage or discourage such people. Some companies clearly define roles and responsibilities for people and do not tolerate employees poking their noses into each other’s work. However, there are also companies where such behaviours are appreciated and encouraged.

The ultimate objective is to achieve the organisation’s goal. Therefore, employees have to understand their individual roles in the organisation and play their game as per their own strengths.

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