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Two Ways to Address “Perfect Employee Syndrome”

By Lisa Woods (744 words)
Posted in Management on June 4, 2012

There are (4) comments permalink

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You are a decent manager, your team shows good results…but there is that one employee that tries to take all the credit.  They seem to lack humility, rate themselves with perfect scores on their performance reviews and want to spend more of their time focused on doing things for the next job before they really do a great job in this one.  So what can you do about “Perfect Employee Syndrome”?  Let’s review two ways you can address the problem while achieving a positive impact on your team.


First: Do not single the employee out for their arrogance.

They already see themselves as being better than the team, and probably better than you, so if you single them out to address the issue, it will only make them feel attacked for being so great.  Instead, implement something new across the board for all of your employees.  An example is implementing a quarterly review process where you give each member of your team both quantitative and qualitative performance targets.  Share the targets with the entire group.  For example, you can explain to your employees that you want to focus on team building.  Everyone will have a personal objective to show they are supporting others in the group, or others in the company outside of the team.  Explain that everyone’s starting point is at zero, and by the end of the year your goal is to get each of them to a level five.  Every quarter you will sit down with them individually to review results.  They will present how they have improved, and you will review your opinions as well.  The goal is to improve your entire team and to make this “perfect” employee feel like they are part of it.   By starting at a zero rating, you are setting an individual bar for improvement. 


Second: Give them a special project with clear objectives outside of their comfort zone.

Tell your employee that you see some really good qualities in them that are relevant to an important project you want to implement in the department, or in the company.  Set clear objectives, timelines and expectations for reporting results.  Explain that their current role and responsibilities still take priority and must not suffer while working on the project.  Make sure you support their success.  The goal is to be their boss, set them up with an opportunity prove themselves, and be there to help them succeed if they need it.  The exercise will help both employer and employee with their relationship.


In the end you probably both have something to learn about each other’s abilities.  These two exercises are positive ways of managing through the issues while improving results for your group.


I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life.  Test out these concepts and share your results with us.  Others can benefit from your experiences.  Good luck!



Written by Lisa WoodsPresident ManagingAmericans.com

Lisa is a successful entrepreneur, world-class marketing strategist, and dynamic business leader with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth. Throughout her career, Lisa has been influential in integration techniques, organizational and cultural overhauls, financial turnarounds and developing employees into exceptional leaders, results driven managers and passionate team contributors.


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Comments (4)

Raj Pandit - LinkedIn posted on: June 29, 2012

You have raised two points:
1.Perfect employee syndrome
2.other employees are taking credit

solution to both issues.
Corrective Action:
Get Self performance appraisal of all team members
Get Peer performance appraisal of all team members
Take client's feedback

Preventive Action:
Define targets with clear roles, of all employees/ each member of the team
Review has been done with strict criteria & inform them at the same time

Sue Sitzmann - LinkedIn posted on: June 29, 2012

From a different perspective, perhaps it's important for the "decent" manager to try and better understand the reasoning for their employee who "lacks" humility to want to score themselves perfectly? Maybe this manager doesn't really understand his or her employee as well as he/she thinks they do? And maybe it is this employee's way of trying to call attention to the fact that either a new performance appraisal system is called for, or a very frank discussion between manager and employee, where the manager truly listens to the employee to discover what really is behind the words/ratings? Just a different way of looking at this situation.

Carlo Privitera posted on: June 29, 2012

Put them out of their comfort zone!
Elevate their targets and even more important set the example. Be humble ... share your success as well as your failures explaining what you learned from them!
If it's not enough break the silos using your network and put them in front of real best in class performers.

Conwyn Flavell posted on: June 29, 2012

There is an old phrase about giving them enough rope but make sure they do not hang themselves.

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