The other day I saw this video on LinkedIn with a caption like: “When you don’t appreciate your key employee.”
That’s a charming video, but that caption…
My Experience as a ‘Key Employee’
I’m having trouble articulating my thoughts on this for two reasons:
- I’m attempting to write about something that I’m really not an expert on. I’ve had some experiences with this topic, and can make some observations, but that’s about it.
- I also think that the problem with the caption is self-evident. If you have a business with one or two “star employees” that your business simply can’t live without … you should really be worried about your business.
You see, I was the ‘key employee” once and it was an unpleasant experience. Being the ‘key employee’ means that people will heap praises on you, but that praise comes from the fear of losing you, and not for appreciation for what you’ve actually done. Being the ‘key employee’ means that you are trapped – you are no longer mobile within the company, and there’s pressure on you to stay because if you leave then bad things can happen, and do you really want that on your conscience?
What if you’re not the ‘key employee’ but it’s obvious who is? How does that affect morale? How long will either of those employees remain engaged? How stable is your business model if the loss of a single (or a few) individual can bring it to a halt?
I think that sustainable systems should be prioritized and sought after over key employees. I’m not saying that employees are unimportant, or that high-performers shouldn’t be rewarded. I am saying that if you have processes and policies in place that enable people to work within a proven framework that emphasizes automation, documentation, and transparency that you’re more likely to be in a safer position when those employees turn over or when that high-performer chases an opportunity that you simply can’t compete with.
Like I said, I’m not an expert on this, but those are my thoughts. As someone who values diverse viewpoints, I’d be interested to know if anyone disagrees.