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mikemurphy
mikemurphy

Food for thought...

It’s not always the hard-charging, work-first superstars who are happiest in their jobs, according to a new survey conducted by Atlanta, GA based Leadership IQ.

Go figure.

The Leadership IQ study finds that in 42% of companies, it’s the low performers who report being more engaged – more motivated and more likely to enjoy working at their organization – than middle and high performers do. The survey was reported by the Wall Street Journal’s Lauren Weber in the Journal’s At Work blog and picked up by the always reliable LinkedIn.

When you think about it - and as Leadership IQ CEO Mark Murphy explains - low performance satisfaction makes a certain amount of cockeyed sense. The less work you do, the less put-upon you might feel. If you’re not a top performer, your manager probably won’t be overloading you.

By this logic, it’s the top performers who feel stressed out and less satisfied at work because 1. They’re the ones putting in the extra hours, sacrificing aspects of their non-work life and 2. These top performers have to compensate for and correct the work of their less high performing work-mates.

This cycle tends to breed discontent rather than harmony. These dissatisfied top performers end up looking for work elsewhere.  Hence, per the article, management would do well to communicate regularly and openly with their star workers and mid-level performers to find out what frustrates them and what would motivate them to stick around.

Admittedly, 42% is still a minority. In the other 58% of companies surveyed, the highest performers reported being the most engaged.  It’s rare for the middle performers to report being most engaged, although – like the “slackers” – the middle performers might also benefit from being somewhat ignored by their bosses.

Something, however, is not computing.

Not sure how it works in the 207 companies consulted for this survey, but in most companies I’ve been a part of, the managers tend not to ignore shoddy performance. Rather than saying, “Oh, that’s just Slacker Mel being his usual inept self. We can have Superstar Bill pull an extra shift,” would it not make more sense for the boss to say, “Hey, enough of Slacker Mel not carrying his weight. He shapes up or we replace him with someone who can do the job better!”?

Just saying.

Weber’s article does note that low performers don’t necessarily recognize themselves as low performers.