How to Overcome the Side Effects of Being a Top Performer


Last year I had an employee that was extremely upset about the way our team was handling her success. This employee was a top performing individual for the entire company and had national attention from our senior leaders. Many would think that she would be glorified by her teammates, but the opposite was true. This article outlines how to overcome the side effects of a top performer.

High performing individuals are targets for recognition and success, as well as jealousy and anger.

 Here are a few examples of the side effects of a top performer:

  • Isolation from the rest of their peers
  • Often accused of cheating
  • Shunned from best practices
  • Potentially verbally harassed at work
  • Target for office humor
  • Complained about on a consistent basis

I hope you didn’t think I was only talking about entry level positions. The list above outlines events that happen to even the most educated and professional teams. Often our instinct is to justify other’s success with outlandish ideas. Consider how many people respond to wealthy individuals: “They must be drug dealers”, “They probably inherited their wealth”, “With their connections it would be so easy”, and so on….

Here is How to Overcome the Side Effects of a Top Performer:

  • Give recognition for your success to every individual
  • Celebrate others accomplishments, even the smallest ones
  • Share any and all best practices that you have
  • Immediately address gossip and harassment with individuals (involve leadership when necessary)
  • Explain and collaborate with individuals on changes and experimental best practices
  • Avoid saying phrases that give you exclusive recognition “What I always do”, “I have found that when I” and replace them with “A really great way to”, “I have noticed that others have been”, “We have really accomplished so much”.

The list is short, yet powerful. I promise if you are a top performer there will be some degree of struggle that follows you. Cheating and unethical accusations can be some of the most damaging reputations to have, so collaborating with others on what you do will greatly decrease the chances of this happening.

Develop daily,

Michael Dooley

Questions: Have you been a target of any of the side effects mentioned above? What are your best practices for overcoming them?


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