When A Super Star Team Member Is A Risk


For the first time in a long time though, I’ve had a team member be my highest risk.

That team member is a superstar in their area; very engaged, responsive, fast-paced and has all the qualities you’d want in a star on your team.

However, he has one small problem, he doesn’t work within the team. He works outside of it, like ‘do their own thing’, because ‘the process takes too much time’. To make matters even worse, in the course of ‘doing their own things’, he is causing other team members re-work, and also exposing new risks that now need their own mitigation plans.

Under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t give that person a primary role on the project. You’d have someone be the lead, and they would follow that person. Or, you’d have someone be their ‘wingman’, so you could have eyes on them. Unfortunately for me, neither was an option.

To mitigate the risk this person was introducing to my project, what do I need to do?


I have had this issue. Using WIP limits and enforcing them can help in the situation. We had a super start that could only do his one thing and then would be stuck because he could not pull anther item. After some time hungry to keep writing code he started pairing with some of the younger members to help speed them up. Which started anther issue since they were not using and pairing practices. So we introduced him
To ping pong and stronge style paring. This solved that issue. Then anther issue was created and we solved that and so on.

It’s the old adage of If you give a mouse a cookie he’ll ask for a glass of milk.

He is now truly a super star because he makes everyone’s else around him better.


Thanks that helped a lot Scrummando. Agree a true super star is who can make yourself flexible to work with others, with the purpose of increase the team’s work!


Have you started with feedback? Have you said something like this, “When you work outside the team, you cause me headaches because…” and then enumerate the data? Given the response of “the process takes too much time” I would do these things in order:

  1. Offer feedback again, with the time wasted by other people.
  2. Fire his tush.

Don’t believe the nonsense about stars. They rarely exist. I wrote this article a few years ago: https://www.jrothman.com/mpd/management/2009/05/is-the-most-productive-employee-really-the-most-productive/


Have you had chance to read “The Phoenix Project”? If not, I can’t stress enough - get a copy!! It works great on Audible, is written as a novel and you’ll instantly recognise the character “Brent” as your team member! It’s a superb book that really helped launch the DevOps revolution and is inspired reading - hope this helps and best of luck :slight_smile: