Since Santa and his reindeer have only recently swept though Lincoln, I’ve been thinking about that most celebrated contributor, Rudolph.

We all know the story of this “glowing” performer, who set the standard for “overnight express” on the first delivery run of his career. When he first came aboard, Rudolph was mocked by his coworkers who “used to laugh and call him names.”  But after his stunning, mission-critical deed that foggy Christmas Eve, there were high-hooves all around.

Unfortunately, not all workplace sagas featuring a go-getter employee end in triumph. Thus, if, you have a capable, hardworking, high achiever, realize that unexpected complications can arise.

Overtly or covertly, coworkers may ostracize your ideal employee. (Remember how Rudolph’s coworkers refused to let him “join in any reindeer games?”) They may be jealous because they aren’t as brilliant or dedicated as your Rudolph.  Or they may believe s/he is selling out, kissing up, or trying to bump someone else out of a position or promotion.  Once these suspicions infect the team, the information flow to the distrusted employee screeches to a halt.

Consciously or unconsciously, you may exploit your ideal employee. When you’ve got a top performer who stays positive even under duress, it’s easy to overload that person. Delegation becomes exploitation when the employee’s dedication is “rewarded” with additional grueling assignments, versus a pay raise, a change in status, or even public recognition.

An ideal employee may disengage when he becomes too valuable for his own good. Let’s say you believe you can’t afford to lose Rudolph’s expertise — that he’s irreplaceable.  If you stymie his efforts to make upward or even lateral moves, his devotion may turn to dust. Or his dedication to the job may turn into a dedication to finding a new job –one with more opportunity to grow.

What if you are the ideal employee? Just because Rudolph was blissfully unaware of office politics doesn’t mean that you can afford to be.  Relationships have the power to make or break your career, as a friend of mine learned the hard way.  Like Rudolph, she was passionate about her organization’s mission, and she worked circles around her coworkers. However, her industriousness made her too busy to play or even acknowledge office politics. Because she spent no time ingratiating herself with the higher-ups, they didn’t realize how dazzlingly productive and valuable she was. In time, pernicious gossip from envious coworkers caused her to lose her job. Ironically, the organization’s top performer was unceremoniously kicked to the curb.

So remember, it’s just as important to be a good teammate as it is to be productive. Brush off or develop your people skills, and then be a little less productive in order to apply those skills. Once your coworkers trust you, they’ll be less likely to sabotage your success.

As a manger, it’s your job to bring out the best (vs. the beast ) in your employees – to leverage their strengths. If you do, then you may be the one whom others serenade, “You’ll go down in history!”

If your organization would like a keynote speech or training program
on this or other topics, contact Jeanne at  (402) 475-1127 or
visit me on the web at
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