Just as a refresher, “A” players are consistently very strong performers, and they do well regardless of the job you put them in. The majority of the workforce are “B” players and they are competent, solid performers. The “C” players are those that are only marginally competent, at best.
Obviously, the goal on an on-going basis is to maximize the number of “A’s” and spot the “C’s” and give them a development plan for improvement which, if not achieved, leads to helping them find another job.
That leads to the important issue of detecting, attracting, and retaining “A” players. Here are some tips:
1.) Detecting – When interviewing a candidate, go all the way back to high school and march forward in time, asking about accomplishments. In each phase of the person’s life, the typical “A” can tell you about things he or she was pursuing, what was achieved, and the role they played “A” players have usually been “A” players for life and can spout off all kinds of successful pursuits as they have gone through the various experiences they have had over time. Achieving impressive, consistent results in the past is the best predictor of future success.
2.) Attracting – “A” players what to be challenged and they want to be responsible. The initial assignment this person would get better be really exciting and important, or your chances of hiring them are slim. Also, they like to know that their boss will trust them, and would be there for help when needed, but not meddle. “A’s” like to work with other “A’s”, so real care needs to be taken in configuring initial and subsequent jobs for the person.
3.) Retaining – This person needs to be told that they are a very strong performer and that they will do very well in the organization over time. Too often we are reluctant to very clearly give them this message. Also, he or she needs to be on a fast track (i.e., increased levels of responsibility) and given only significant, challenging jobs. Importantly, they need to see that the organization has little patience for “C” players and is actively striving to hire “A” level talent.
Very simply, individuals who have been winners usually continue to win. You need more than your fair share of these folks to consistently outperform your competitors!