Most businesses strive to build a team of “A players” – those top-performing employees with strong practical skills, exemplary work ethic and the drive to learn, grow and succeed within the company. The reality, however, is that some team members will inevitably fall into the B- or C-player category. They may have the basic knowledge to do their jobs, but they aren’t quite as willing as A players to go above and beyond.
While you can’t force a person to work harder or do more for the company, there are things you can do as a leader to guide your B and C players toward improving their work ethic and skill set. Here’s how Forbes Coaches Council members recommend working with your lower-performing employees, without negatively comparing them to their A player counterparts.
1. Identify And Leverage Their Individual Motivators
Different types of performers often have unique motivators. If you can tap into what makes B and C players tick, you’ll have a greater chance of seeing them display the same intensity and results of A players. Use staff surveys or coaching assessments to uncover motivational factors and reward employees based on what matters to them. You just might see a significant transformation. – Laura Smith-Proulx, An Expert Resume
2. Set Specific Goals For Success
An effective way to help B and C players get closer to an A-player level is by setting S.M.A.R.T goals for them to strive for. Then set another, and another. With little wins to celebrate success and build confidence, the B and C players grow and improve performance over time. Key to success with this technique is providing the coaching and resources necessary to ensure goals are met. – Randy Goruk, The Randall Wade Group, LLC
3. Look At Their Skills And Opportunities, And Align Their Roles Accordingly
When labeling employees as A, B and C players, you first have to reflect on your own contribution. Are the B and C players really that or just different personality types from you? Are they being pigeon-holed? Are they given opportunities? Has their role changed over the years and it’s not really appropriate for them anymore? What are they excelling at? Can they do more of that? – Larry Boyer, Success Rockets LLC
4. Help Them Self-Assess And Understand Where They Need To Improve
Want to move B and C level players to the A level? Help them to accurately self-assess. Give these different-level players opportunities to lead and compete within diverse teams in your company, so they can see where they are with regard to leadership, motivation, skill, and work ethic. When these players each have a more accurate assessment of where they are, they can begin course correction. – Billy Williams, Archegos
5. Address The Root Cause Of Poor Performance
Work to address the root cause for this lack of performance. Is it a skill issue, as in the person doesn’t have the knowledge or experience to do what you’re asking? More challenging is a “will” issue — the employee lacks the motivation to succeed. Start the conversation and do it without making comparisons to others. Look for what matters to your employee. Then make a plan to win together. – Kathleen Woodhouse, Nova Leadership
Some C and B performers want to be a part of something greater than themselves and even greater than the individual accolades that A performers crave. Without trainers, managers, and equipment people, professional sports teams wouldn’t be at their best. So-called B and C performers who accept their role can still make a huge difference. Motivate them by a common cause and not just by the spotlight. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
7. Reward The Right Behavior
If you recognize and reward the behavior you expect, it is highly likely that you will inspire most employees to perform based on these priorities. Those who do not even try are under-performers. However, be very careful how you set your metrics. People will focus on the reward and recognition system. Be certain that the metrics you establish align with your workflow and company goals. – Erin Urban, UPPSolutions, LLC