The myth of the rock-star employee

The myth of the rock-star employee

Are the best and the brightest really who you want on your team?

Partner, Global HR Centre of Excellence

KPMG in the UK


Related content

Microphone in spotlight

People are drawn to heroic talent.

It’s common to mythologize employees who can single-handedly solve any problem placed in front of them, and those talented individuals are coveted by hiring managers the world over. As a result, those employees are often highly rewarded as well, and talent management processes seem to prove that this works. They are sorted into 9-box grids and given glowing performance reviews and, as a result, HR surveys demonstrate how engaged they are with the organization as a whole.

But this is not necessarily evidence that they are the most valuable performers.

Instead, I have grown more and more intrigued with the idea of the “talented team”. What makes an organization successful as a group? Is it simply a collection of rock-star employees working shoulder to shoulder? Evidence actually shows that a high performer’s impact on an organization’s success, when compared with a high-performing workforce, is much less significant.

Indeed, a high-performing team is not just an aggregation of talented individuals.

Engagement surveys need to move to a new measurement metric that focuses on connections between employees rather than individual successes. It’s in those connections that you find collaboration and agility. It’s in those connections that you engage your workforce as a whole, not just the few.This is important because you will never be able to staff an organization entirely with rock-star employees, nor should you want to. Instead, there is a need to design an organizational system that emphasizes collaboration, interaction, cross-boundary operations and team performance.

Innovation is highly valued, and innovation in so-called talent management is necessary for the workforce of the future. To find out more about the evidence-based measurement tools KPMG member firms use to prepare businesses to succeed down the road, visit our report on evidence-based HR.

KPMG Anticipate

KPMG Anticipate is a new online space where we share insights on the subjects which we feel are at the heart of how the business world is changing.

Read more

Connect with us


Request for proposal



KPMG's new digital platform

KPMG's new digital platform