It is very easy to distinguish the outliers, those at the extremes. They stick out like a sore thumb. We all know who they are.
At the top these are the “A” players. Those superstars, those that are always getting recognised, getting the big deals, getting customer satisfaction awards, getting internal recognition from management and peers. It’s not very difficult to pick them out and to put them in a very clear category.
At the bottom these are the “C” players. Those underachievers, those disruptors, those squeaky wheels, those taking up management time and attention constantly. It’s not very difficult to spot these either.
However it’s often the group in the middle, the “B” players who get the least attention but in my opinion are possibly the most important group in the business. This group often doesn’t get much recognition, praise or scorn. They often go unnoticed by senior management. They don’t get much of a mention in quarterly company or team updates and they often get overlooked at salary review time.
The engine room
However if you scratch below the surface this group are often the engine room of a company. The workers, the silent achievers, the “dependables”, the “loyals” who often spend 5, 10, 20 years at a company with limited promotions only to leave with little fanfare. Cherish these people. Cherish the “B” players. Recognise who they are, listen to them and their many insights and ideas and respect them and their contribution. It is important to ensure there are many of them in your organisation, without them a business cannot survive!
There is obviously a great need to have some “A” players in your business but “A” players often come with their own issues. This group are not always team players and are constantly vying for the next reward, salary increase or promotion. No business can afford to have too many “A” players as this will eventually cause chaos. Any business can only afford so many bold personalities, free spirits, egos to stroke and salary increases.
The silent achievers
This is why the “B” players are so critical. This group provide the solid footing from which a business can grow. These are the players who “put their head down and their bum up”. They are happy working a solid 9 to 5 (sometimes much longer) and give a great account of themselves when there. They are often doing critical sometimes monotonous work and doing this extremely well. They often get outcomes which very few people get to see but they silently cherish. They strictly ensure systems and processes are religiously stuck to and very often are responsible for devising those systems and processes. They often provide a critical support function to those “A” players who get all the recognition but would not be able to reach such heights without the efforts of the trusted teammate.
Many of these “B” players don’t have a lot of confidence, are introverted and are happy doing the same job for a long time. They don’t particularly want a promotion and the responsibility that goes with that. They just want to get to work, do the best job they can, be with good people and feel like they’re making a contribution. They are often utterly dependable, trustworthy, considerate, kind, soft-spoken but proud. Often these people have other interests in life other than climbing the corporate ladder. They are often family people who cherish family more than anything or they are charitable, either giving their time directly to charities or being involved with a church. While some people feel that they are defined by their job, these people often are not. They work hard and give their best but then they go home and spend quality time with their family, friends or give their time to others.
My view is that to have a well-functioning organisation you need to manage the “A” players and ensure you have enough of these but not too many; cherish the “B” players and ensure this group makes up 70 to 80% of the organisation; and constantly work at either getting the “C” players up to the “B” group or get rid of them.
Cherish the “B” Players and you’ll find that running a well-functioning, reliable, disciplined organisation will be a whole lot easier.