Managing the ‘indispensable’ high performing employee.

1111967_business_piggy_bank_3_ver__1The recent global financial crisis has seen an increase in advice to employees to ‘make yourself indispensable’.  A useful strategy for the employee maybe, but not always ideal for a smart small businesses!

Those same high performers have the capacity to hold your business hostage to their demands!  So how do you have high performing team members without making them indispensable?

  1. Create a culture of high performance so that the ‘average’ level of performance is higher than expected in most businesses.
  2. Create an environment and a culture that offers your people incentive to stay and to perform at their best, without them feeling like they need to instigate the ‘power crazy’ aspects of being indispensable.
  3. Work with your team’s strengths – the person being ‘everything to everybody’ needs direction and support in working towards specific targets that benefit the business.  Just because someone can, doesn’t mean they should!!
  4. Have awareness of people who are implementing the ‘indispensable strategy’ – they may not always be the ones you want to keep should the going get tough…  (look for strong performance in their core job role, or move them to a more suitable role if you start to see previously undiscovered talents!!)
  5. Don’t be tempted to rely on the people making themselves indispensable – you are compounding the problem and teaching them to become a bottleneck.  Encourage good delegation practices (starting with you!!) and ensure that those not performing at the higher levels know they need to step up – allow the bar to be raised!!

What do you think?  Have you ever been held hostage by an employee who thought they were indispensable?  What did you do to alleviate the risk to your business?  How did you harness their enthusiasm and commitment to the business without creating other problems?  Share your ideas here!

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