How do you know if an Employee is an A, B or C player?

by Greg Skloot
Management   |   4 Min Read
A players

Everyone wants as many A Players as possible on the team. But what does an “A Player” actually look like?

To identify if an employee is an A, B or C player, I consider 4 criteria:

  1. What happens when you delegate to them?
  2. What happens when you recruit?
  3. What happens when they need to do something new?
  4. What happens when they are blocked?

Now, to look at A, B, C players based on that criteria:

A Players

B Players

C Players

While there are certainly other criteria a CEO can use, I’ve found this a good start to understand who your A, B and C players are. As you think about how to effectively manage each of these types, consider:

1. Set clear objectives and definitions for success

Everyone needs to be aligned on what the objectives are, and how success is being measured. A players will be eager to be a part of the process to define it. For B players, it’s important that they feel bought into the process, even if they may not contribute as much. C players will find excuses why the objectives are unachievable and success unrealistic.

2. Hold everyone accountable for delivering results

A very quick way to expose A, B, C players is truly holding everyone accountable for delivering results. Part of why I built Weekly Update (a tool for teams to share status updates each week) is because I saw the value of getting objectives and progress in writing. It is the only way people can be truly held accountable. A players will be eager to participate, highlight their wins and comment on losses. B players will as well, but may be more reserved in how they share. C players will want to avoid this at all costs, because it exposes their failure to deliver.

Shorter meetings. Real accountability.
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3. Always (always!) let go of C players

The biggest mistake I’ve made in this area is keeping C players too long. I’d give myself excuses like:

Every time, I have ultimately regretted not letting go of a C player sooner. C players drag down the team and create weak links in an otherwise strong chain. It takes some guts and leadership to make those changes, but it almost always is the right decision.

4. Coaching is used to turn B Players into A Players

When you have a B player, that is a perfect opportunity for coaching, mentoring and guidance. There are so many cases where after a period of time, a B player can step up into a B+ and ultimately an A. For C Players, coaching is difficult. By nature of being a C player, they are less likely to respond well to coaching, or to even recognize that they have a need to improve. Thus, see point #3 on always letting go of C players.

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