Some employees are overeducated and overqualified—or think they are—for the jobs they are doing.
Such employees will find their roles not demanding enough to keep them occupied. They may not feel fully engaged in those tasks and responsibilities that they judge “beneath” them.
Toffee-nosed employees can create team tension. They can develop negative attitudes, such as a sense of entitlement about their skills (remember the FedEx “Even an MBA Can Do It” advert?) or resentment through boredom. That frustration and disillusion can ripple out and bring everyone else in the team down.
Here are two guidelines for managing overqualified employees:
- To keep overqualified employees engaged, allow more autonomy, and assign them more creative assignments. Delegate longer-term projects or have them collaborate with other teams within the company. Though, be mindful that this may create even more resentment in the team towards the perceived overqualified employees. Discuss with the team why some people have been chosen for those special assignments.
- Work together with the human resources staff and help the overqualified employees chart out individualized paths for climbing the corporate ladder and reach their potential. Find ways to help them acquire new skills and get exposure to other parts of the organization. Coach them to apply for roles that possibly do not yet warrant their experience and expertise. Expand their leadership capacity by assigning training and mentoring responsibilities.
Idea for Impact: Nurturing and keeping overqualified employees can create a strong foundation for tomorrow’s management team.