To Have a Great Team, Focus on Your B-Players
Our thanks to Dr. Davana Pilczuk ofThe Human Performance Groupfor this article. Dr. Pilczuk is an award-winning kinesiologist who specializes in human performance, including team dynamics, A-players and B-players. She is a speaker, writer and consultant for Fortune 500 companies, sports teams and small businesses.
Want to have a successful business, with happy customers and happy employees? There is a simple trick that can help you do so, yet most businesses fail to use it. After working with businesses of all sizes for over 20 years, I see them all make the same mistake again and again: over working and over relying on their A-players. Therefore, to make a business strong and maintain its longevity, focus on your B-players.
A, or B?
Let’s first define an A-player. These are your rockstars, your go-to guys and gals, the people you can count on to knock it out of the park. They require little hand holding and little oversight. They have the trifecta of natural talent, necessary job skills, and great work ethic. They are exciting to work with and a joy to manage. Every business owner wants A-players because these Tom Brady’s can help them win.
Despite all the good A-players bring to the table, there are some downsides to their style and methods of operation. A-players often enjoy great levels of autonomy. Because they are very self-driven, they do not require nor want much input from outsiders as to how to do their job. They know they know their stuff and easily operate without the rest of the team, often leading them to become great solo artists. This distancing can create resentment and confusion within the ranks. If management adores them, the tension and jealousy within the team can grow even more.
Despite all the goodness they generate, your A-players pose the biggest flight risk. They are clearly aware of their skills and abilities and often have their eyes open for other, more financially promising opportunities. In every company I’ve ever worked with, the A-players don’t usually stay for long. They are plucked by other businesses who notice their talent or they realize they are good enough to run their own operations and eventually move on to their own thing. If they do stay, businesses can pay a hefty price to keep them.
Focus on the B’s
What’s the fix? Focus on your B-players and here’s why. If you have a small business with less than 20 employees, you might have two maybe three A-players. This means the overwhelming majority of your team will be B’s. Yes, there will be a couple C’s, but like A’s, they don’t make up the bulk of the team. The B-players are the heart of your company. They are the ones who come in on time every day, do their work, do their jobs well, and keep the place together. Sometimes they hit a homerun, but it’s rare. What they do well is get on base and they land you a solid amount of runs repeatedly. They aren’t flashy. They don’t brag or expect to be noticed like your A-players. But they are reliable, unassuming, good workers.
Unfortunately, most managers fail to invest enough time into their B-players. Managers concentrate on the A’s and fail to grow and encourage the others on the team. Like many little league coaches, they overfocus on the eight-year-old kid who can hit well and then don’t spend enough time coaching the other kids. The team might win the game, but the only ones loving the win is the coach and powerhouse Petey.
It’s well worth your time
Despite your busy schedule, set aside some time each week to work individually with each of your staff. Give them specific praise when you see them doing something well, such as “I really liked how you spoke to the lady who was upset. You kept your calm and delivered great customer service even to someone who was being difficult.” These little moments of reinforcement will encourage your people to repeat these positive skills. When you see them make a mistake, pull them aside and gently correct their technique. A good coach is constantly coaching both the good behaviors and the not so good ones.
Every B-player has a skill or talent that just needs a little coaching. They often have the potential to become A-players, they just haven’t had the right coach to nurture their talents and tweak their skills. Yes, coaching others takes time, but the return on your investment will create a business that thrives and wins no matter what the odds.