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23 Nov 2015

How Top Performers at Work Can Put You Out of Business

Top performers at work indirectly resist change because they focus too much on their silo's performance.

Top performers at work are often so focused on their results that they do not have time for good collaboration with those in other silos.

Most times businesses fail at their change leadership efforts. This happens even if they hire a change management consultant. Much is because both do not see how top performers at work impact us when driving change.

The Business Paradox

To see how top performers at work impact our change management strategy, it helps to review the business paradox. Businesses aim to profit. The paradox is that if they focus on maximizing profits every minute of every day, they will go out of business.

That is because they will not invest. Investing in our businesses costs money. It hits profits. If we do not do this though, we do not change. We do not adapt. The over focus on profits puts us out of business.

How Top Performers at Work Over Focus

Let us expand this paradox to top performers. Research by Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes and Charles Sull shows that top performers can inhibit change. They are too focused on their goals. They are too focused on their work.

They find collaboration is a key to executing strategy. It is about collaboration across silos not within them. Sound familiar? When it comes to change, I find most times the challenge is not within a silo but between silos.

The Cost of Collaboration

Collaboration takes time. It is hard to measure. It takes away from performance. That is why Sull, et al. found:

Past performance is two or three times more likely than a track record of collaboration to be rewarded.

That means top performers are more likely to receive jobs, promotions and recognition than top collaborators are. How top performers at work thwart change is that they come to rule the organizational culture.

Illusion of an MBO Solution

Redoing MBO’s is a typical, simplistic solution. It is an illusion though. This is not just a matter of goals. It is about personality. It is about new ways of measuring.

Collaboration requires giving of oneself. That is a trait. Top performers are less likely to have this than top collaborators do.

The digital age is advancing the field of organizational mapping. It looks at the networks among our employees. It can measure how well they work across silos.

Top performers help drive our success. Over focus on them reduces collaboration though. It reduces ability to adapt. It increases costs. It reduces return on investments. All of these can put us out of business.

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