Every team has a mix of players. A few are the stars or A players. The bulk are B players. Then you have a few that are C players. An article in Inc Magazine, “Managers Need to Start Focusing On This One Group” promotes the idea that managers should focus their attention on developing B players. I agree with this fully so let’s take a look at why it’s important and how to go about it.
Now, this is not to say that A players don’t require attention. They do. They are also usually very self-directed and internally driven. To use a metaphor, they are a train that’s headed toward success, and your job is to keep them fueled, focused and motivated to arrive on time. Your B players are cars. They don’t have a track to guide them toward success. They require everything the A players need; however, they also require more direction and course corrections along the way.
The goal of development is to guide team members to being the most productive and efficient they can be in their role. For some B players, this will be a path toward becoming A players. For others, they will settle into being dedicated, reliable performers. This is a good thing. You want a mix of A and B players to give your team consistent, predictable performance. The A players deliver the marquee results while the B players ensure you never miss the goal. Everyone adds value.
This is the first step: plan your team. Using your team goals and the organization’s needs as your guide, give considered thought to what skills your team needs to be successful. Holding the previous metaphor, a train comprised only of engines may be fast, but it won’t haul much cargo. As part of this step, you’ll identify your A, B, and C players.
The second step: remove C players. These are team members who are not invested in the success of the organization. They exhibit a high level of apathy. In worst case scenarios, they negatively impact the team’s mental performance. Take a look at some of the articles on moving people off your team or out of the organization. The C players will not rise to the A player level. Let them find opportunities in other areas that are a better fit for their skills.
The third step: plan your success. Having honed your team to only A and B players, map out how the individual B players will contribute to the success plan. Who will deliver what to get your team to its goal? Who has the potential to become A players? Who is a reliable B player? That’s what you’re deciding here based on what you know about each team member’s abilities.
The fourth step: adjust B player performance as you go. Regular and consistent feedback helps B players learn the actions that are positively and negatively impacting their performance. For B players who show potential to be A players, give them more chances to stretch and achieve more. You can also align them with A players more frequently to inspire their development.
A healthy, high-performing team is not a result of chance. It takes a manager focused on achieving that result. A few high performers surrounded by a cadre of solid, reliable teammates is the best way to a team that sets you apart as a manager.