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How Star Performers Influence Their Team

star employee

I’ve written before about the value of going the extra mile for your career. Contrary to the popular perception, the research found that we don’t tend to reward people for doing extra. Instead, we tend to punish those who don’t do as they say they will, with the super diligent not gaining anything above what we give to those who simply keep to their word.

See Also: Improve your Teamwork Skills

What about in a team scenario? Would someone who regularly goes above and beyond the call of duty benefit their team more than those who simply do what is required?

That was the topic of a recent paper from researchers at the University of Iowa, who set out to explore whether employees that go the extra mile can in fact bind teams together and ensure they work effectively.

Why all Teams Need an ’extra miler’

The researchers explored the performance patterns of nearly 90 teams inside a Chinese petrochemical organisation. The data showed that teams would usually perform at their best when they contained a number of key facets, including:

  • minimum agreed working standards across the team
  • a means to keep tabs on project progress to ensure balance of workload across the team
  • having support staff on hand should help be required

Of course, these elements of team performance don’t emerge out of nowhere, so the researchers asked each member of the team to rate their colleagues on various desirable team qualities, whether that was coming up with ideas or being willing to help out their peers.

It turned out that their scores on both of these things gave a strong indication as to the strength of the team overall. Well, almost, for you see the key to team cohesion appeared to be the score of the best individual when it came to helping others. In other words, once you’d found the rating of the best helper in the team, the scores of the other members were irrelevant.

The same appeared to be the case with speaking up. Once you were aware of how strong the strongest member was on this trait, you could gain a strong understanding of how good the team as a whole were on it.

It should be said, however, that this superstar was only able to work their magic when their team were in regular contact with them. Outlier members of a team can influence the collective, but they need to be in frequent contact with the group in order to wield their influence upon them.

So, if you have a high performing member within a team, it seems that they alone are enough to predict the subsequent performance of the wider team, just so long as they’re heavily involved in the functioning of that team.

See Also: Importance of Team Work In a Professional Environment

Have you worked in a team with such an individual? How did your managers ensure that they proved a positive influence on the rest of the team? I’d love to hear your experiences, so please leave your thoughts in the comments below.



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