The inner agony of the competent employee

Credit: Bill Dimmick via Flickr

It's great to be highly regarded in the workplace. To be the go-to person who gets the tough assignments while your less-competent colleagues get to coast, that's not so great.

But new research shows that competent people in the workplace often are frustrated and resentful because they have a lot of assignments and responsibilities dumped on them, often without any extra recognition or reward. Believe us, it sucks.

Studies by researchers from Duke University, the University of Georgia, and the University of Colorado examines "not only how extremely competent people are treated by their co-workers and peers, but how those people feel when, at crucial moments, everyone turns to them," as The Atlantic describes. Turns out they don't really like it.

Duke University Ph.D student Christy Zhou Koval (lead author of one study) explains to The Atlantic:

“People ask high self-control people to do more for perfectly logical reasons—because they think that those who successfully demonstrate high (vs. low) self-control will perform better and accomplish more. But for the actor, it can feel like a burden. Why should you do more work for the same reward, while your less capable coworker coasts along with lower expectations and work?”

Exactly what we keep asking!

Another study by the research team determined that managers who assign extra tasks to their most competent employees routinely underestimate how much time and effort is involved to successfully complete a particular job. 

And do these hard-working employees complain? Yes, but only obliquely, in a blog post.

This story, "The inner agony of the competent employee" was originally published by Fritterati.