Project Practitioners > A Blessing and a Curse

A Blessing and a Curse

By Ann Drinkwater

Is being an expert in a field or practice a blessing and a curse? Possibly. If someone is deemed an expert and the most qualified in a certain area, that person may be more burdened and utilized than their counterparts. Businesses often look at the fastest approach and the short term direction that will involve less risk and cost. In the long run, this strategy may end up costing more than may be immediately apparent. Pareto’s principle is quite often accurate, but doesn’t mean it is the right approach or we should just accept it. While it can be detrimental to the longevity and growth of an organization, it can both hamper the deemed expert and other members of the team. Here’s how:

  •  Damaging to the team: With all things being considered equal (multiple people in the same job function) and you continually assign a select person or group of people the complex assignments, this can be de-motivating to other team members. While some people will be thankful they escaped a challenging assignment, committed professionals generally will not. This unbalanced load can create resentment from not only the person receiving a higher workload, but also by those not being challenged enough and wishing to advance. 
  • Damaging to the organization: The organization may see immediate gains by assigning challenging work assignments to the top experts, but long term, these individuals will move on and you will then need to reinvest in your organization. Growing and developing your team on a continuous basis, is needed for long term success. 
  • Damaging to the “expert”: An expert usually becomes that way because of hard work, drive and determination. These qualities can often mean the person is looking to move to the next level. It can be unfair to the person’s personal growth to assume this person wishes to stay in their current capacity.

Don’t be such a task master or short term focused, that you lose sight of the bigger picture for your organization and your teams.

~Ann Drinkwater

Not all comments are posted. Posted comments are subject to editing for clarity and length.

Very true. It is a regular complaint from good performers that they are getting overburdened since they are performing well, as more tasks get assigned to them. In addition, even when the management wants to assign it to another person, the good performer is expected to spend significant amount of time performing a ToT. There is no easy way around it, except for developing the team with almost equally skilled and capable engineers. Then there will be a sense of competition among the team to perform well. Training in that case (for new joinees) can be a planned activity.

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