Category Archives: #leadership

The A Team

Charles Dudley Warner, a co-author with Mark Twain, once wrote “Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” In my experience working in industry and as a talent management consultant, this phrase accurately applies to employee performance. Many business leaders, managers, and supervisors complain about issues related to performance or behavior, but do little to improve the situation.

During my tenure as Vice President of Human Resources at a regional healthcare provider, we began a process of identifying those employees who were not meeting expectations. We called it our “C” player list. Now before I am accused on being heartless or not being compassionate, please know that my definition of a manager is one who provides all the tools, resources, support, and encouragement for all employees to be successful and reach their full potential. We had an expressed goal to help every identified C player to become an A player. All actions were positive performance improvement measurements where the manager had just as much responsibility in affecting a positive outcome as the employee.

The first big question that surfaced from leadership was how an A or C player is identified. This is very important because many managers will identify the top employee based on the personal relationship he or she has with that person. Who gets along better is sometimes the measurement of our good employees. A more objective way was necessary, so we spent a great deal of time developing those characteristics to identify where certain employees fell in the list. The following are a few characteristics of an A player.

An A player has a very positive outlook on their position, the responsibilities, and the company. Even with obstacles and difficulties, an A player has a “glass is half full” frame of mind.

An A player sees his or her roles and responsibilities as fluid and are very versatile in changes or revisions that may occur to compliment the needs of the business. An A player can easily adapt to changing circumstances and add or revise tasks to overcome obstacles.

An A player is always dependable. No matter what task needs to get done, an A player will be the first to raise their hand. They are unquestionably reliable in accomplishing or at least giving their best shot to any activity, whenever needed.

An A player is selfless and does not think “what is the best thing for me” when doing the job. An A player looks at the whole to evaluate and pursue what is best. In the end, this pursuit creates a win-win situation.

An A player has an inclusive approach that involves the ideas and opinions of others. An A player realizes that everyone is connected and that a collective knowledge, wisdom, and thought will provide better results.

An A player realizes the need for constant learning and takes every opportunity available to increase knowledge and skill. Even if there is not a structured continuing education program, an A player looks for ways to learn new things independently. An A player also looks for ways to make those around better by bringing new found knowledge to others.

As easy as it may seem to recognize an A player, C players can also be easily identified….if you pay attention.

A C player gets defensive very quickly when asked to explain why something was or was not done.

A C player frequently blames other people for any shortcoming in their performance. It is never their fault.

A C player will be very protective of their own turf and will not share crucial information to solidify their perceived importance.

A C player constantly makes excuses for not meeting expectations and generally perform just enough to do what is necessary. A C player will rarely take extra measures with any assignment or task.

A C player is very good at always coming up with reasons why something will not work. In a project setting, a C player will be the constant naysayer.

A C player has little motivation to develop personal or professional skills. A C player will look at learning and growth opportunities as just another burden on top of other responsibilities.

A C player also believes that they know what is best and truly feel they bring value. They have rationalized an unrealistic sense of importance to the organization.

The other groups of employees are those who exhibit the characteristics of an A player, but lack consistency in performance and meeting expectations; and those who exhibit some of the characteristics of a C player, but may seem to try and meet performance standards and expectations.

The primary goal is to develop everyone up. The steps are: Clearly communicating expectations; providing constant feedback on performance; holding all accountable for meeting the expectations; and administering consistent consequences for performance and/or behavior issues that do not meet the expectations.

The success of the process of moving employees up is very much dependent on the attitude of the manager. A good manager recognizes that all employees have the potential to be A players and has a passion to help all succeed. A good manager sees worth and value in everyone and works hard to develop everyone up. A manager who does not look at this way may be, I don’t know, A C player? It is worth the effort to create the A Team.

To your success!