In my recent column “Don’t overload your good people,” I warned IT managers about the perils of overloading “Superperson,” the employee who is willing and able to accomplish more than the average employee. I received e-mail from several TechRepublic members who described themselves as the Superperson or said they managed Superperson. Here are some of the highlights.

The real reason for Superpeople is poor supervision—Leonard W.
I think you are way off base on your Superpeople story! The part about overloading them and losing them is true, and you alluded to the real reason that there are Superpeople in the first place, poor supervisors!

I had the fortunate experience of having a whole office of superstars, but did they start that way? No. In fact, half of them [were employees that] other employers had “thrown away,” and if we use the rule of only “hiring good people,” I would have never hired them.

But my rule is that all people are good workers if they are supervised correctly, and within a few months I had my superstars, and the supervisors that had “thrown them away” wanted them back. What is sad is we do not have supervisors who can supervise to bring out the best in their people. The unfortunate result is an office with one or two superstars and “the others.”

Jenn L., Sr. PC Specialist & Superperson: “I disappeared”
This article reads just like me: I “disappeared” from a previous job, and will probably disappear from a current one. My problem is the flip side of special projects. I want to be able to do project work, but am too customer-focused to put the projects before the help desk calls. In both companies I have been (and this is in quotes deliberately) “too responsive to customer requests.” Unfortunately, I was an end user for 15+ years before moving to the help desk, and I know what service I expected. I continue to meet my own expectations. Talk about your Catch-22!

From Tom N.: Appreciation turns to expectation
How right you are in your column on “Superpeople.” I have known some top-class performers, people that wouldn’t stop for a minute, took calls after hours, worked weekends, worked until late. For others, they were the “be-all and end-all.” They knew it all, and what they didn’t know they could find out, or it wasn’t worth knowing.

Then it slowed and stopped! They stopped the working late, they stopped putting in all the out of work hours into their jobs. Why? Because appreciation turned to expectation. Other people within the company started heaping their jobs/responsibilities onto these “Superpeople.” They reasoned that since these people knew it all, then let them do it!

Eric N. shows up early and stays late
Can I relate? Oh boy, can I! It’s not a co-worker; it’s me who is burning out. I have three phone switches (an Aspect 700R release 6, an Aspect 200R release 7, and a Meridian PBX option 61C) to handle on a daily basis. That includes all IMACs (Installations, Adds, Moves, and Changes), most administration, all first-and second-tier support for those switches.

I also do admin/troubleshooting for three NT servers, one running a program called Witness, another running a program called TCS (that includes a stand-alone PC for data capture). Last but not least, I unofficially run desktop support. All documentation is run through myself before heading up to the big boss.

Any problems that can’t be figured out by the rest of the staff come to me. And I swear to goodness, I put out almost every fire around here. I’m here early, stay late; I pull overnighters for new app rollouts. Luckily, I have been able to automate most software break/fix work with batch files and or scripting. My site is 2000 PCs just on the production floor for reps, then another 100 for management and test labs. Well, I said I could relate.

Adam S., Director of Information Systems: The mediocre people hang around
Your column on Superpeople is right on the money. I used to work for a fast-growing, fast-paced, high-stress software company. Time and time again we would see good people just “disappear.” The mediocre people would hang around, because it was a fun company to work for, and it paid very well. The Superpeople would get the snot kicked out of them with the extra workload, and the money just wasn’t worth it anymore.
It’s supposed to be an employee’s economy—so why do Superpeople put up with being underappreciated? To share your two cents, please post a comment below or send me a note.