How to Manage Your Star Employee and Maintain Healthy Team Dynamics

Last updated on June 6, 2024

Wow, that’s a star you hired! Well done!

But hang on a minute. Are you prepared for what’s next?

Every now and then, recruiters come across an employee who seems remarkably more talented, executes tasks faster, or delivers better results than everyone else. And while star employees can skyrocket your company’s performance and inspire employees to go above and beyond, they might also deflate the team. So to make sure everybody feels comfortable at work after a new star employee is hired, it’s vital to master the dos and don’ts of managing them.

Why should you be careful with employee success?

Employee success is the foundation of business success because it boosts performance and employee retention. It encourages your employees to do their best at work and facilitates a high level of engagement. That’s why it is so important to implement effective strategies for employee success in all the stages of the employee lifecycle.

Working with a highly successful person, however, can also shake and stir team dynamics. When somebody on the team shines so bright that it makes workers suddenly feel like they are not as dazzling as they have thought, fighting a losing battle: their so far safe spot in the team hierarchy suddenly becomes questionable. And it heavily depends on how you manage your star employee. 

Star performer, star treatment?

Star employees usually need extra positive feedback to maintain engagement.

Firstly, as they bring more enthusiasm to the table, they look for the same amount of attention to their actions as well.

Secondly, their main motivator is having a deeper purpose in their 9-5, so they need the reassurance that they do it right. They want to hear that what they do every day is important.

As star employee performance is spectacular, they impress management and directly motivate co-workers to achieve more. So who wouldn’t want to praise them more? But it is crucial not to go overboard with appreciation. That would feed their ego and could easily make other employees feel less important.

Even if your team knows that others being more successful in certain things doesn’t mean they have less value, it’s in the human DNA to constantly compare ourselves to others and agitate on the personal differences. And it can generate unconscious behaviors that might finally lead to the decrease of team efficiency.

When a star employee is hired, the physiological climate of the team dynamics immediately changes: employees start repositioning themselves. The question is whether it will affect the team positively or you need to implement specific strategies to set everything back to normal. There’s a lot to consider here because different team fits result in different scenarios. Is your new hire dominant? Are the existing employees accepting enough? What if your star is analytical while your team is more sociable?

Remember — everybody on the team must feel valued at all times. Monitor their reactions and help them adjust to the new situation as much as you can.

How to keep your star employee while maintaining healthy team dynamics:

1. Tailor your leadership style

Now as you hired a star, you’re managing a complex group of people; if you haven’t already. Make sure you understand the rhythm of the team and know when to fit behavioral tendencies to their needs.

2. Avoid favoritism

Favoritism can erode morale and reduce productivity among colleagues, fostering distrust and resentment. Workers might feel anxious about seeing your star constantly in the spotlight and experience their self-esteem drop. Also, favoritism can negatively affect your star too. It can place a heavy burden of constantly overperforming themselves and not allowing themselves to make mistakes. Be a team player rather than a fan.

3. Acknowledge the contributions of other team members

When attention is being focused on your star employee and things get fragile, it’s super important to praise every team member in a meaningful way. Switch from simple “Great work” and “Well done” to in-depth comments that will make your workers bloom. For example:

  • Thank you so much for your prompt response in resolving this unexpected issue. We were able to avert a major business crisis because of your willingness to take risks and make quick decisions.
  • You are known for your trustworthiness. Thanks to your commitment, we could build meaningful, lasting connections with people, which is essential for our organization to be successful.
  • We really appreciate you being such a supportive team player. You’re constantly uplifting people and this is gold for the successful future of our organization.

4. Manage workload equally

Although at first it may seem to be a good idea to give more work to your star to increase overall performance, think twice.

While it may suggest to your star employee that you’re really satisfied with their work and they may happily do that, in the long run, that can lead to exhaustion and burnout. And it can also cause conflict among employees and make them quiet quit. Make sure to assign tasks equally, with regards to personal strengths.

5. Set clear goals and communicate them clearly

Prioritizing goals can help you keep healthy team dynamics. If your employees understand that you focus on what really matters and they know what to expect, they will have a clear vision they can work for. Set specific goals for your workers and communicate clearly how you’d like them to achieve that.

You will inevitably face challenges in meeting the needs of your star employee, keeping them engaged, and reducing their risk of team conflict. But with solid leadership skills and tools you’ll be able to overcome the challenge.

Wrap Up

Managing a star employee while maintaining healthy team dynamics is crucial for sustained success. Recognize their contributions without showing favoritism, and ensure that all team members feel valued. Tailor your leadership style to meet the needs of the entire team, provide meaningful feedback to everyone, and distribute workload equitably. Clear communication of goals will help align efforts and foster a positive environment. If you balance attention and praise, you can keep your star engaged and motivated while ensuring that the whole team thrives together.

Adrienn Herendi

Adrienn is a Content Strategist at Boostpoint, leveraging her extensive experience in writing for the recruitment industry. With her passion for crafting unique, engaging and informative content, she is on a mission to build a community where Talent Acquisition teams thrive and succeed.

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