Don’t let the best employees be low in the pecking order

I’m a big fan of Survivor since day one. One of the more memorable seasons in the beginning was the fourth season on the island of Marquesas. Besides the first appearance of Boston Rob (who played his worst game), it was known for the first time were members of a dominating alliance defected to the other side and switched sides.

Two contestants named Paschal and Neleh realized in one of the immunity challenges what their place was in the dominating alliances pecking order. They realized that they were at the bottom and made the decision to switch sides.

Speaking as someone who has made some moves in my life, most of the time I make a change is when I realize how low I’m in the pecking order. Once I was working for a third party administrator (TPA) and I was the only ERISA attorney on staff. There were a handful of salespeople, conversion staff, administrators, and financial advisors on staff.  Based on my hard work and competency, one would think I’d be one of the most treasured employees, but I wasn’t. We had someone in charge who was threatened by excellent employees and that person championed the mediocre. We called that person, the chief operating officer. When I realized I was low on the totem pole and the chief operating officer was trying to find ways to attack me, I decided it was my time to go.

When you have great employees, you need to realize that they have feelings and egos. People want to be appreciated for what they do, whether it’s in salary or in commendations. You need to keep your best employees at the top of the pecking order because if they realize they’re low, they’ll go.


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