By Barbara Mitchell
HR Expert and Co-Author
The Essential HR Handbook
“I love my job, but my manager is a jerk.”
Is that something you’ve said, thought, or felt? If so, you aren’t alone.
Here’s the flip side of the story.
All of the managers I have ever known have said that they want to work with the best possible employees. While I don’t doubt that they mean what they say, it takes skill and work to hire the best and to manage them to reach their highest potential.
This is why: Employees with high-skill levels usually have high expectations, which can be challenging for some managers.
Personally, I love to hire the best available talent and stand back and watch them soar. I have been fortunate in my business career to have hired and mentored some wonderful people who have gone on to accomplish great things.
Contrast that with a story I heard several years ago from my niece.
She and I were traveling Europe to celebrate her college graduation. She was taking time off from her new job, which she had carefully selected after finishing her degree. She wanted a place where she would get the maximum exposure to her field and a place where her creativity would be valued and even encouraged.
She shared many stories with me on our long train rides through France and Italy about her great experiences at work and how much she was enjoying what she was learning. So, imagine my surprise when over dinner one night in Paris she said, “When I get home, I am going to quit my job.”
I said, “But, I thought you loved your job!” She replied, “I do love my job. I have met the company founder and believe in his mission, but my manager is a jerk.”
This brought home to me the importance of being sure the front-line managers are trained properly to hire the right people, develop and mentor them, and to let them do what they do best without getting in the way. Fortunately for my niece, by the time she returned home, her manager had been transferred and she was able to continue working for the great company she loved.
How many stories like that have you heard? Maybe it has happened to you. You would like to stay with a firm and contribute, but your immediate supervisor isn’t a mentor but the opposite—a detractor.
Are some managers threatened by “rock star” employees, and if so, how silly is that? Having high-potential employees working for you can only make you look good. So why not just get out of their way and let them do what they do best?
High-potentials or rock stars—whatever we want to call them—can be challenging to manage, but the rewards are great—both for the employee and for the manager who does the right thing and encourages great performance from everyone that he or she manages.
That should be the goal of every manager and every organization that wants to set themselves apart in their market segment.
For more information on hiring, developing, and managing employees, check out The Big Book of HR.
About Barbara Mitchell
Mitchell is a human resources and organization development consultant who is widely known in the areas of recruitment and retention. She has experience in both for-profit and nonprofit sectors and has consulted for a variety of organizations around the world.
She served in senior human-resources leadership positions with Marriott International and several technology firms in the Washington, DC, area before co-founding the Millennium Group International, which she sold in 2008.