There are three types of employees:
- those who think they are great,
- those who are great, and
- those for whom greatness is not part of the discussion.
The first two are mutually exclusive, and the third will likely never get there.
Truly great employees never feel as though they’ve arrived. They continually pursue excellence. They want to learn. They want to grow. They know their strengths, but they also know their weaknesses.
It never ceases to amaze me how surprised the truly great employees are when they are rewarded. Give them an out-of-cycle raise, and they are thrown off-guard. They are truly grateful.
Name them the employee of the month, and they wonder why someone else wasn’t recognized. They focus first on what they can do for the company and assume that any company worth working for will take care of them in return (and the truly great companies do).
Employees who think they are great typically erode over time. They may be very talented, but they fail to recognize that sheer talent is not what separates the true allstars. They assume they are irreplaceable and have inflated perceptions of their own value. They rarely invest in their own growth; they grow stagnant. They are full of pride and are often a negative influence on others in the organization. They tend to always want more. They care more about themselves than the team. Over time, they wear on teams.
Don’t be fooled by Mr. Bigshot. Rewarding an ego can be more detrimental to a team than losing a great talent. Remember: the truly great one’s don’t expect it.