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Ivan Popov

i was once an athlete. then a journalist. now i am a ceo of an iT company. still running marathons though.

Overqualification: How To Manage Excellent Employees

qualification in business

In today’s article, we discuss overqualification in business – let’s investigate good practices for handling over-qualified employees in the workspace.

The hiring process is essential for any business. At first, entrepreneurs come up with an idea and after careful research and planning they figure out ways to implement the theory in reality.

Once a business has been established, the business owner comes across other types of situations: they need to carefully proceed with the initial investments, build a list of prospective clients, and, essentially, further develop the company by hiring professional individuals.

Establishing a team of experts is indeed crucial for every business – the bigger the demand, the bigger the need for a dazzling group of excellent performers. Business owners often hope to find professionals since choosing wisely your team generously pays off in the long term. Nobody wants to work with employees who lack work ethic and are just not a great fit for the company.

But what if a business ends up hiring overqualified employees? At first, this may seem like the perfect scenario, but observing the matter closely shows us there’s more to it. How can a business indeed keep overly qualified team members for the long run? Are their satisfaction levels harder to fulfill?

We’ll discuss just that in today’s article. Let’s get down to it!

Unprofessional employees vs. overqualified ones – who to pick?

At first, it may seem that hiring unprofessional employees is a good idea since their demands would be relatively low, as well as their anticipated salary.

But what has business taught me is that one should always plan ahead and look at things from a perspective.

A business owner cannot possibly hope that those employees would eventually live up to their standards and turn into excellent team members. Of course, many of them do so, but an entrepreneur cannot just risk their business so naively. Sure, a business owner may prefer hiring people to give them a chance to learn and that’s perfect; but should a team consist entirely of unprofessional members?

On the other hand, hiring experts sounds like a dream decision. By stepping into the world of the company, those people already know what to do – usually, they don’t need constant help and support work-wise, entrepreneurs don’t have to micromanage them all the time, they show significant skills when it comes to productivity and proactivity, etc. It’s like finding the perfect fit for the company – once you hire the employee, they show up and start dazzling everybody.

But hiring overqualified employees can soon backfire. Can we really expect those people to be fulfilled with slow-paced work processes while also being monitored by much less experienced individuals? When choosing overqualified experts for our team, we need to be well-prepared to meet their requirements and fulfill their professional satisfactory levels.

How would overqualification affect the company’s ecosystem?

experts in team work

So far we’ve probably all realized that hiring professionals is great – it definitely benefits the business in various ways.

But we should pay extra attention to our overqualified employees. By the time we hire them, they’ve already achieved quite significant professional success. With that being said, we can indeed observe how adding such experts to the team can benefit the entire company:

  • they do perform at a higher level – while the majority of employees need some time to get acquainted with the company dynamics, overqualified ones jump straight into the action. Usually, they are the first to finish up tasks and through proactivity, they are always willing to take up more and more work. A huge plus is that often their work is impeccable.
  • overqualification in employees helps them manage their own tasks without needing constant micromanagement – essentially, this benefits everyone because the entrepreneur can focus on their professional tasks.
  • they can teach other team members quite a lot – their overqualification allows them to showcase splendid skills and work ethic. In the best-case scenario, overqualified employees can teach others quite a lot. Essentially, this also benefits the company.

To all entrepreneurs out there – pay attention to your employees who showcase signs of overqualification

Although having overqualified team members on board is incredibly beneficial for the company, this doesn’t mean you should overlook their professional growth.

In terms of overqualification, employees can quickly start feeling dull, bored, and discontent with their work, especially if it doesn’t correspond to their expertise. With that being said, I strongly recommend entrepreneurs to think wisely upon hiring experts – can you offer adequate professional growth to those people? If you plan on sticking them to a regular job position, for the time being, you should be well prepared this won’t work for them in the long run. So here are some pieces of advice when it comes to hiring overqualified employees:

  • the major issue with overqualification is that oftentimes employees believe they receive much less than deserved in terms of work-related activities and salary – in order to avoid those situations, I suggest you carefully evaluate their work and offer a promotion as soon as you feel it’s right. This way you’ll stimulate the employee’s motivation and what’s more, you’ll be able to showcase your appreciation.
  • offering autonomy is key – if you are lucky enough to have an overqualified employee, you cannot simply assign them to a less experienced leader. This would quickly lead to frustration and discontent. Instead, try offering those experts autonomy and opportunity for self-management.
  • show appreciation verbally – offering praise is always welcome. Just because an employee is overqualified and great at what they do doesn’t mean they don’t need to hear words of appreciation and praise.
  • provide a sense of control and work distribution – offering someone who expresses overqualification tendencies the opportunity to control the work process and outcomes is incredibly important for their self-esteem as employees. Assigning them the title of a leader or a manager is also a great way to express your gratitude.
  • showcase trust – one of the greatest feelings an employee can experience is the feeling of trust and respect. The entrepreneur should show trust when it comes to the employee’s work and decision-making processes.

I believe following those simple rules and tactics can indeed improve the working environment and help overqualified employees feel their best at the job. The alternative to this is not so good – if you let your team members feel discontent and undervalued, you risk them losing them for good.


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