There is a practice I have observed far too many times. And it is one of the largest killers of value at companies large and small. It is the practice of turning superstars into lizards. It actually happens. And you've likely seen or experienced it yourself.
The process goes something like this...
Company F invests significant amounts of time and money in hiring. It develops elaborate recruitment engines to find the best, most creative people. It ensures a robust interview process so only the driven and accomplished make it in the door. And it choreographs onboarding to give these rockstars what they need to deliver value.
Then it happens. Over time, and with imperceptible slowness. The perception changes. Company F starts treating these boiling frogs as the less competent, less trustworthy, versions of the people they hired. These former elites become the necessary recipients of 19th century sticks and carrots.
Sure hiring mistakes happen. But generally, these processes tend to work pretty well.
So what happened? Did these winners actually lose their ability to deliver? Why are these superstars now looked upon as reptiles with the associated brain capacity?
Leadership. Or more accurately, a failure of leadership.
These former denizens of success were hired, in part, for the great accomplishments they've made in their careers. There is the innovative engineer who developed a method to reduce bandwidth usage by 98%. But now he has every story estimate questioned. There is the product manager who led the global launch of a consumer app to millions of customers. But now she isn't trusted to make a decision on the next two week sprint.
But the success these former heroes achieved is not a result of their own herculean efforts. It is a marriage of the person and the many factors that made up the environment in which she achieved her success.
When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower. - Alexander den Heijer
If you expect people to achieve similar results they must have a similar environment. Your job as a leader is the craft that environment. And then empower, trust, challenge, nurture, and inspire. Otherwise, you are destroying the greatest asset your company has.
Hiring great people is hard. But if you are hiring the best people and not inspiring them, you might as well hire the lizards. It is a lot easier.