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Is Your Team Too Talented?

The thinking is the same among managers of sports teams and corporate recruiters: if you want better performance, bring in more talent. And why not? If some talent is good, more talent should be even better.

However, new research shows that an excess of top-tier talent can drag down team performance, particularly when team members must work closely together. “When individuals within a team don’t have to rely on each other to get their work done, maximizing talent is a really good strategy,” says Professor Adam Galinsky, who coauthored the study with Roderick I. Swaab and Michael Schaerer of INSEAD, Richard Ronay of VU University Amsterdam, and Columbia Business School doctoral student Eric Anicich. “But when team members are interdependent, you can get the too-much-talent effect.”

There are three potential relationships between talent and performance, Galinsky explains. The first is linear: adding more talent translates to better outcomes. The second results in diminishing marginal returns: bringing on additional highly talented team members produces smaller and smaller benefits. (Diminishing returns can also have a negative effect on the bottom line, because of the high costs of hiring top talent, Galinsky notes. This can be seen with Hollywood movies that seem overstocked with stars; adding big names may increase revenues but decrease the film’s profitability.) And the third results in the too-much-talent effect: adding more talent actually lowers the team’s performance.

via Is Your Team Too Talented? | Columbia Business School Ideas at Work.

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