Whoooooo Are You? The Price of Rock-Star Employees

Posted by Molly DiBiancaOn February 25, 2013In: Employee Engagement

Email This Post | Print this Post

If you’re a die-hard fan of The Who, you may not want to read the rest of this post.  Don’t misunderstand, I, too, am a fan.  Which is why I was all sorts of excited to see them in Atlantic City on Friday night.  stick figure businessman in spotlight

The band did not disappoint.  Overall, I’d say the show was pretty good.  Guitarist Pete Townshend, though, was far better than “good.” Townshend was great; and I mean great.  Well worth the price of admission.

Lead singer, Roger Daltry, on the other hand, left a lot to be desired.  Daltry was, well, a diva. He barely sang at all—or at least not as much as I’d hoped.  Mostly, he sort of stood there, swinging his mic around—sometimes catching it and sometimes not.  As he stood at the edge of the stage, not singing, shirt unbuttoned so to expose way, way, too much skin, it was as if he was saying to the audience, “Yes, it’s me.  I am really here on the stage before you.  Try not to faint from excitement.”

I assure you, I did not.  Clearly, he was very impressed with himself.  I, however, was far less impressed.  And what’s the tie in to HR and employment law, you ask?  Have faith, dear readers. I’m getting there.

The lesson is to be aware of the tipping point with rock-star employees. If you’ve had an all-star employee in your workplace, you probably learned this lesson a long time ago. Rock-star employees are those who out perform their colleagues. They’re worshipped by their managers and their direct reports, alike.  They have skills that far outshine the skills of their peers.

The trick with rock-star employees is keeping them happy enough to keep them productive. At some point, you may find that you’re investing more than you’re getting in return. This is particularly true if you compromise your culture or principals because the rock-star demands it.

If the rock star can no longer belt the tunes, you should ask whether you should be giving him special benefits and, well, treating him like a rock star.  It may be time to tell the rock star to button up his shirt and pass the mic along to someone else. (In the case of The Who, that someone would be guitarist Simon Townshend, brother of Pete, who stole the show on Friday night).

See also:

Going Gaga over the Not-So-Little Overtime Monster

Bob Dylan's HR Lesson- Mandatory Retirement

Why Top Performers Are So Hard To Please

Leave a comment