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Are you over-burdening your high potentials?

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Managing an employee who is always on top of his or her game is a dream for any boss – but if they aren’t careful, the situation might soon turn into a nightmare.

According to a new study, people with more self-control — those who have the self-discipline to get more things done — tend to be more relied upon by others.

This leads to high-potentials feeling frustrated, as they start thinking their reward for getting things done is simply more work to do.

Professor Gráinne Fitzsimons and Ph.D. student Christy Zhou Koval of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business undertook several studies to find out how people with greater self-control are viewed and treated by others, and how they felt about that treatment.

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“What our research suggests is that when people look at whom they should rely on, they get it right: they rely on the people who can help them, those people with good self-control who can overcome temptations and push through even when they are tired,” Fitzsimons said.

“But they aren’t seeing the potential costs for those people. Our research showed that high self-control people feel more burdened by helping others in the workplace, and if you want to keep these high self-control employees, you want to make them feel good, and appreciated.”

One study analysed the self-assessments of 403 employees, plus assessments by an average of five of their supervisors and co-workers.

Employees who saw themselves as having more self-control said they made more sacrifices at work and felt more burdened than those with less self-control.

Their supervisors and co-workers, while agreeing that high self-control employees made more sacrifices, did not feel that these sacrifices were a burden.

“This suggests people with high self-control recognise they are doing more, and are not happy about it,” the researchers said.

Image: Shutterstock

HR Masterclass from Human Resources magazine: High-level HR strategy training workshops
led by the world's most respected HR thought leaders & strategists.
Review the 2019 programme here »

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