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更新时间:2017-11-13 19:23:14 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The surprising damage smart workers can cause

When Amanda Hiebert, a communications director based in Calgary, Canada, took a position at a vitamin supplements firm several years ago, she knew she was overqualified for the job.

阿曼达·希伯特(Amanda Hiebert)是加拿大卡尔加里(Calgary)的一名公关总监。当她几年前在一家维生素营养品公司谋得一个职位时,她知道自己被大材小用了。

The high salary and the opportunity of working for a big company attracted her.


But once she was hired, she found the role was not demanding enough to keep her occupied. “It was boring, it wasn’t challenging, and I wasn’t doing any meaningful work,” she says. She left after just two years. And her experience is one that is all too common.


Around one in six workers in Britain are thought to be overeducated for the jobs they are doing and 58% of graduates are in roles that do not require university degrees. In the US, an estimated one in four employees with a bachelor’s degree are overqualified for their current position.


Many employers now use degrees as a standard entry requirement for roles that were traditionally done by non-graduates, leading to a kind of job inflation where workers are taking jobs that they don’t find challenging.


And while this trend may seem to be working in employers’ favour – they get to bring in a large number of smart, highly-skilled graduates – the reality is it may backfire. Research suggests companies may be harming themselves by hiring employees who are overqualified for the roles they are doing.


Resentment ripples


Having a highly-skilled overachiever on staff should, on the face of things at least, be a boon. But overqualified workers can develop negative attitudes, such as a sense of entitlement about their skills or resentment through boredom, that can ripple out to every cubicle in an office, warns Berrin Erdogan, a professor of management at Portland State University.

拥有资历过高的员工似乎应该是好事——至少表面看来如此。但波特兰州立大学管理学教授博林·艾尔多安(Berrin Erdogan)表示,这样的员工会形成消极心态,例如对自己的技能形成一种权利意识,或者因为无聊而产生怨恨,从而波及办公室里的每个人。

“That sense of entitlement brings everyone down, especially for those who work in teams,” she says. Her research suggests that being overly-skilled for a position can lead employees to feel different from their colleagues, which can fester leading to isolation and loneliness.


Also, if someone is overqualified they might not be fully engaged in the tasks they are given to do, which they may judge ‘beneath them’, according to Bruce Tulgan, an expert in leadership training and author of The 27 Challenges Managers Face.

同样,领导力训练专家、《管理者面临的27个挑战》(The Challenges Mangers Face)一书的作者布鲁斯·图尔甘(Bruce Tulgan)表示,如果某人被大材小用了,他们或许不会全身心投入自己手头的工作,反而有可能认为这些任务"有失身份"。

“They’ll get bored as a result of low morale and they might not even do the work required in that job,” he says.


The perception of overqualification that can lead to these problems seems to be particularly prevalent among younger employees, according to Tulgan. Millennials, Tulgan says, “have higher expectations for themselves, and their employers, compared to other generations.”


A study conducted earlier this year by researchers at the Florida Atlantic University showed that younger workers tended to be those who believe they are more talented than the position they have and often felt frustrated and disillusioned at work.

佛罗里达大西洋大学(Florida Atlantic University)今年早些时候进行的一项研究显示,年轻员工往往认为自己的资历超出职位要求,而且通常会在工作中感觉挫败和幻想破灭。

These employees are also more likely to engage in more rebellious behaviour such as coming in late, leaving early, theft or even bullying co-workers, says Michael Harari, an assistant professor at the university’s department of management programmes.

该校管理系助理教授迈克尔·哈拉里(Michael Harari)表示,这些员工也更有可能出现不良行为,包括迟到、早退、盗窃甚至欺凌同事。

Popularity stakes


But this isn’t always the case. A recent study by Erdogan and Hong Deng, an associate professor at Durham University’s Business School, identified certain personality traits among overqualified workers that are crucial to help them fit cohesively into any workplace.

但情况并非总是如此。艾尔多安和杜伦大学(Durham University)商学院副教授邓红(Hong Deng,音译)最近开展的一项研究发现,有一些特定的人格特点是帮助大材小用的员工适应任何职场的关键。

“Employees who are overqualified but equipped with good interpersonal influence skills are able to display appropriate social behaviors in interactions with co-workers and be seen as competent and likeable,” says Deng. “Those employees are popular and well accepted and therefore feel motivated to engage in positive work behaviours.”


Put simply, interpersonal influence means adapting to your surroundings, adopting a friendly attitude and refraining from disparaging your job or boss. Workers taking on that approach will be more effective performers in the office, adds Deng.


And this is the point where strong leadership can really make a difference. To keep overqualified staff engaged, leaders should give them more creative assignments, long-term projects or have them collaborate with other teams within the company,  says Elisabeth Kelan, a professor of leadership at the Cranfield School of Management.

强大的影响力可以发挥重要作用。克兰菲尔德管理学院(Cranfield School of Management)领导力教授伊利莎白·克兰(Elisabeth Kelan)表示,为了让大材小用的员工保持忙碌,领导者应该给他们分配更有创造力的工作、长期项目,或者让他们与公司内部的其他团队合作。

Although if taking this route “leaders should be mindful of the fact that this might create even more resentment towards the perceived overqualified individuals,” she warns. “It is therefore important to discuss with the team why one person has been chosen for those special tasks.”


Another way for leaders to combat negative feelings among overqualified employees is being frank about climbing the corporate ladder. Erdogan says she once spoke to a hiring manger who hired someone clearly overqualified for the position and they had an open conversation about being patient.


“He said to the employee that if you stay in this position for a year, you’ll move higher up in the organisation,” she explains.  “That overqualified employee responded with a sentiment of ‘That’s great! I won’t be in this role forever and I’ll get a better job down the road.’”


So what if this applies to you? The same candidness can also help people who feel they are overqualified for their role. Many job seekers will find themselves in the same situation as Hiebert, having to apply for roles that perhaps do not warrant the level of experience and expertise they have.


For those that do, Tulgan advises explaining why you want the job and emphasising how you can fit into the company.


“Don’t dumb down your CV or downplay your achievements," he says. "Be candid and authentic.”