We fired our top talent. Best decision we ever made.
Jonathan Solórzano-Hamilton

As appalling as it sounds to the manager who failed this clearly talented asset, this is clearly a management problem.

Study the work of W. Edwards Deming. His work will explain clearly how management clearly set this talented worker up for failure. Not intentionally of course. Seeing a burn-out coming is difficult if you don’t know what you are looking for. But even from what the manager wrote in his article, the signs of burn-out were clear long before the “transformation to Mr. Hyde” was a possibility.

The sad truth is that it is far easier (and more satisfying to our pride) to blame the super-genius, uber-talented worker for things he had no control over, namely the situation leading up to the burn-out. The story in the article above clearly spells out an overload of work. The manager’s job is to do what developers like “Rick” are not very good at: managing work loads so they are realistic. Because different developers have different levels of productivity, it is really tempting to let genius developers go as far as they can until burn-out is inevitable. The manager sits back and says, “Wow, I’ve never seen anyone this productive! Let’s see how much I can get out of him!”

Just because your talent is capable of operating in overload mode for any given period of time doesn’t mean he or she can do it forever.

A better response would be, “Wow, I’ve never seen anyone this productive! I had better protect this asset from burn-out and any drama he might not be able to see coming… because that’s my job, not his.”

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