Navigating the Fine Line: Balancing Control Mechanisms for Optimal Performance of High-Performers

Revealing the responses of high-performers to control. How organizations can strike a balance between the need for control while motivating and retaining high-performing individuals.

Navigating the Fine Line: Balancing Control Mechanisms for Optimal Performance of High-Performers
Revealing the responses of high-performers to control ( by natali_mis)


There is a growing body of evidence on the importance of control mechanisms for individuals and on the impact of such mechanisms on employee, managerial, and organizational performance. While the effects of control on the average individual have been extensively documented in the literature, there is little empirical evidence on the impact of control on high-performing individuals. However, especially in today`s digital age, high-performers have a substantial influence on an organization and its success. This study addresses this gap in the literature by examining the impact of control mechanisms, specifically minimum performance requirements, on high-performers within organizations.


This study holds implications for the field of organizational behavior and management. From a practical standpoint, the findings will significantly influence the design of control mechanisms within organizations in the digital age by highlighting the compelling role of the relationship between control mechanisms and their effects on high-performers. The study's outcomes provide practical guidance for organizations and managers striving to enhance labor productivity by appropriately balancing control and motivation in the digital age. Furthermore, the findings offer insights on how organizations can effectively identify and retain exceptional talent in order to drive success and growth.


The study reports three main results. First, the comparison of individual behavior without control and control strongly suggests that the introduction of control mechanisms can significantly reduce the performance of high-performers. Second, it can be concluded that raising the control intensity does not have a clear negative or positive effect on the effort of high-performing individuals. Lastly, through the examination of the disparities between remote work (impersonal relationship), and office-based work environments (personal relationship), this study provides evidence that even though control mechanisms decrease the effort levels of high-performing individuals in both settings, introducing control exhibits greater efficacy in impersonal settings.

Implications for Practitioners

  • Strike a balance between providing necessary structures and allowing individuals to explore and experiment
  • Adopt more flexible and empowering approaches to manage high-performing individuals
  • Unlock the full potential of high-performers by fostering a culture that encourages autonomy, trust, and collaboration
  • Recognize the significant contributions of your exceptional talents by investing resources into their development, providing feedback, and acknowledging their achievements


The study employs a meta-analysis approach with a distinct focus on examining the effects of control mechanisms on high-performing individuals, particularly in relation to variance in performance. Unlike most existing studies that primarily concentrate on the first statistical moment, the mean, this research recognizes the significance of variance in the context of performance. To achieve this goal, the study utilizes analytical methods to analyze publicly available quantitative data from selected studies. The analysis focuses on the 75th to 95th quantiles of the original data. Through this approach, statistical tests and techniques such as equality-of-variance analysis and quantile regressions are employed to explore employee variability (differences and correlations) among high-performers.