Maybe you have been lucky enough, as I have been, to work with one or more multitalented people over the course of your career.
You know the type: Those folks you can throw just about anything at--even if those things are disorganized, poorly thought-out, and/or on fire--and get polished gems in return.
We love these people, right? But there's a downside.
It's not, as you may think, that these highly talented people are at risk of leaving your workplace for sunnier shores elsewhere. Sure, that could happen--but that could happen with any of your employees.
The problem with these multitalented folks is that, despite their myriad talents, there are probably just a few certain things they really enjoy doing. In this way, they're a lot like the rest of us. Unlike the rest of us, however, they are forever being pulled away from their true sweet spots to cover shortfalls elsewhere.
The end result? Your most valuable employees wind up doing work they are ill-suited for--not in terms of getting the job done (they do that, brilliantly), but in terms of their own preferences. And that's when they leave you.
Now, no employee is above moving out of his or her comfort zone when the job requires it. A good manager will, in fact, continually be pushing the envelope of what his or her employees can accomplish. But you need to be careful about pulling your superstars too far away from their core skills and preferences. They may be doing an excellent job, but it won't be a job they're happy doing for too long.
Instead of thinking that you simply can't afford to have these valuable employees start specializing, start thinking instead about how your workplace would look without them in it at all. Then start making sure they're on track to meet their own career goals as well as your organization's.