Publication: Academy of Management Review (JUL 2012)
Article: Catching Falling Stars: A Human Resource Response to Social Capital’s Detrimental Effect of Information Overload on Star Employees
Authors: James B. Oldroyd and Shad S. Morris
Reviewer: Susan Rosengarten
Every organization has its “star employees”—those people whose performance seems to outshine the rest. People are drawn to star performers because of their great importance within their firms and thus stars tend to have more social capital than the average employee. Through their interconnected webs of contacts and connections, stars gain access to more information than average employees, which can be overwhelming. Furthermore, information overload can negatively impact star employees’ performance and can make them less likely to share valuable information with other employees, ultimately hurting their organization’s bottom line. Even worse, frustrated stars who feel inundated by information requests may feel the need to leave for firms with less demanding environments.
So how do HR professionals prevent star employees from “burning out” and “overloading?” Well, one possible remedy is to increase star performers’ information processing abilities by providing them with varied work experiences and projects. This enables stars to better perceive and pick up on subtle informational cues and acquire more knowledge, which stars will then pass along to others. Furthermore, stars should allocate specific times to checking email, voicemail and texts, and then spend the rest of their time focusing on work, uninterrupted.
HR professionals can also lessen their stars’ loads by using technology to share information. For example, a company’s intranet can house a catalogue of “lessons learned” written by star performers so that employees can easily access and apply them when needed, without having to reach out to their star performers directly. Finally, if organizations really want to keep stars from being bombarded by informational requests, they should consider providing them with support staff, or “gatekeepers,” who can monitor and prioritize their flow of information requests.
Oldroyd, J. B., & Morris, S. S. (2012). Catching Falling Stars: A Human Resource Response to Social Capital’s Detrimental Effect of Information Overload on Star Employees. Academy of Management Review, 37(3), 396-418.
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management