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The Competency Conundrum: Balancing Workload and Recognizing High-Performers

Updated: Dec 16, 2023


The reliance on highly competent personnel is a well-known reality. These key individuals often bear the brunt of problem-solving and keeping projects on track. However, this dependency can lead to an imbalance in workload distribution and unrecognized stress on these high-performers.


Insights from Recent Research

A study conducted by researchers from Duke, Georgia, and Colorado universities delved into the "burden of responsibility" shouldered by competent workers. Surveying over 400 employees, they discovered that high-performers were acutely aware of their heavier workload compared to colleagues, and often felt that their managers underestimated the effort required to maintain high performance levels. This led to dissatisfaction among these high-performers, feeling burdened with what they perceived as an unfair workload.


The Managerial Oversight

The study revealed a common oversight among managers and colleagues who failed to recognize the additional burden placed on competent workers. This was partly because these high-performers consistently met deadlines and completed tasks without voicing their struggles, leading to a misconception that the workload was manageable for them.


Expectations from Peers and Organizations

Interestingly, the research highlighted a general expectation for high-performers to handle more work, as they were seen as the logical choice for successful and quality task completion. However, this approach can be unfair, particularly when compensation does not reflect the increased workload.


Addressing the Imbalance

The research suggests that while relying on competent personnel makes operational sense, it's crucial for organizations to implement robust reward and recognition schemes. Acknowledging and compensating high-performers appropriately for their extra efforts can alleviate stress and prevent potential burnout.


Advice for Managers and Leaders

Leaders in the oil and gas industry must remember that task allocation should be equitable. If a high-performer is needed for a critical situation, their additional efforts should be openly recognized and appreciated. Consistently overburdening high-performers while under-performers coast by can lead to a loss of valuable talent.


Risk of Losing High-Performers

The survey indicated a high probability of high-performers seeking opportunities elsewhere if they feel unfairly burdened or unrecognized. Managers should consider distributing engaging and high-value tasks to capable employees, balancing the more tedious work among all team members.


In conclusion, maintaining a fair balance in workload and recognizing the efforts of high-performers are crucial for sustaining a productive and motivated workforce. It's essential to avoid pushing your best performers to their limits while allowing others to benefit from a lesser workload. Adequate recognition and equitable task distribution are key to retaining top talent and fostering a healthy, productive work environment.

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