Play a great ball game, the team wins the series; stick the landing, the gymnast gets a 10; run a smart race, the runner earns a medal; read, read, read, the first grader progresses to chapter books; solve a problem at work, the employee is praised.
Our best employees are those who identify problems and solve them - preferably before they occur. What about getting credit for problems they create?
Do you know an employee who creates "fictional organizational problems, only to solve them?" Are you nodding? Are you cringing? How do these employees impact the morale of the rest of the team, department or area?
Do they seemingly always have necessary information and not share until implored to assist? Do they commit and withdraw? Do they come in and save the day sighing "woe is me" all the way? If this sounds familiar, you may have a reluctant hero on your hands.
Or maybe you have a do-looper who "constantly lights small fires and then puts them out?" Call them what you will but employees like this are a problem. Click over to Munchausen at Work in the November 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review for tips on diagnosis.
The best remedy? "Reduce the attention and other rewards that are tied to solutions and, more broadly, to limit perpetrator's opportunities for creating specific problems."
A "reluctant hero" is no hero at all. Save the rewards and recognition for those who deserve it.