Magazine article The CPA Journal

Supervising Superstars: Talent and Temperament

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Supervising Superstars: Talent and Temperament

Article excerpt

In every workplace you will find a mix of various performers and personalities. As supervisor, getting the job done means managing the dependable and the problem performer, the temperamental and the talented, while tapping into the best talents on your team. But be cautious: The most talented may also be the most challenging to supervise.

Confident in their job skills or knowledge, potential superstars tend to become abrasive to others. This behavior may result in low morale among the other employees within your work unit.


You can begin by asking a potential superstar to report directly to you. This limits initial interaction with other team members and minimizes the opportunity for confrontation. If the project calls for more than one staff person, then try to partner two superstars on the same team.

Cross-train other staff members so that their combined skills can match those of your top talent. However, don't forget to get your rising star involved in the process. This should be done not only for the sake of diplomacy but also to get the person's opinion before making changes that affect his or her area of responsibility. Getting input before making changes ensures an easier "buy-in" when the time comes to implement plans.


Realizing that supervising high achiever personalities requires time and energy, sometimes you probably wonder how wise it is to hire such a person. But let's face it, we all like to have wizards on our team, and the benefits to the organization can make hiring such a person a good gamble. When you do, develop a game plan to effectively integrate the newcomer into your team:

* Specify acceptable performance;

* Don't reward poor behavior;

* Confront problems head-on;

* Document problem issues;

* Counsel the individual toward proper behavior;

* Rely on peer pressure to reinforce group norms; and

* Reward progress in achieving new performance and behavioral standards.

The best and most strategic place to start reforming your highly talented person is at the job interview.

To identify the talented potential mavericks, ask applicants to describe their work style and provide examples of their ability to work as part of a team. If available, ask former supervisors to describe prior work situations and the candidates' ability to get along with others. …

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