When a top performer steps up to accomplish a task that is another manager’s responsibility, this is generally looked upon as a very appropriate action, and in most cases it is.  A couple such cases include if the top performer is helping cover another manager in a crisis situation or due to a situational work overload.  In these cases, and those similar, the top performer and manager are working together to contribute to the team’s success.  This is an indicator of an existing or developing Elite Team.

If not properly addressed by senior leadership, there are some scenarios when a top performer steps into another manager’s area of responsibility that can result in detrimental consequences.

One common example is when a top performer steps up because another manager has failed in their role, due to incompetence or neglect.  Senior leadership definitely desires this to happen, but only once for a particular manager.  Senior leadership must take action to ensure the manager is held accountable and whether training or other steps are required.

If this becomes a common occurrence, the entire team will acknowledge the shortcomings of the manager, but more significantly, they will recognize the inability or unwillingness of senior leadership to correct the situation, and this is what will lead to very unfavorable outcomes.

There will be resentment from the top performers that have to constantly step up.  Because their character will not allow them to just sit by and do nothing, they now have an unnecessary burden in addition to their regular duties, which will likely lead to burn-out, a change in their attitude, or the eventual transition out of the organization by their choosing.

As a senior leader in your organization, focus on your top performers and when they step up in a situation where another manager should have taken the lead, closely evaluate the reasons.  If it was a team effort, publicly recognize them.  If it was due to the manager’s incompetence or neglect, swiftly take the appropriate action.  Ignoring it will eventually destroy your dreams for an Elite Team.

This is Jason Walker sharing an Elite Team INSIGHT.