Don’t Discount the “B Players” in your Organization

Especially in times of recession, it is the company’s B Players who deserve executive attention. These supporting actors of the corporate world determine your company’s future performance far more than A players—volatile stars who may score the biggest revenues or clients, but who’re also the most likely to commit missteps. B players, by contrast, prize stability in their work and home lives. They seldom strive for advancement or attention—caring more about their companies’ well-being. As infrequent job changers, they accumulate deep knowledge about company processes and history. They thus provide ballast during transitions, steadily boosting organizational resilience and performance.

Yet many executives ignore B players, beguiled by stars’ brilliance. The danger? If neglected, these dependable contributors may leave, taking the firm’s backbone with them. How to keep your B players? Recognize their value—and nurture them.

Who are your most valuable B players?

Garry “Jerry” Gergich from Parks and Recreation

  1. Former A players. These highly skilled, focused professionals often jump off the fast track to balance work and family. They continue accomplishing A work—but on their own terms. Seasoned and sharp, they step up during crises.
  2. Truth tellers. Zealously honest in interactions with superiors, they pose challenging questions. Colleagues, recognizing their lack of ambition, highly value their opinions.
  3. Go-to managers. These power brokers compensate for second-rate functional skills with profound understanding of company processes and norms. They amass such extensive networks that everyone consults them when pushing initiatives through politically challenging terrain.

During turbulent times, B players provide stability by:

  • Accumulating organizational memory. B players remember how their company survived earlier crises—providing indispensable perspective during tough times
  • Adapting to inevitable change. Less threatened by restructuring, B performers adapt to change and have the credibility to dispense vital information. They mentor younger people through the trauma of change, cultivating a reassuring sense of emotional and psychological safety.
  • Staying focused during management shakeups. Unlikely to be promoted or fired when a new CEO arrives, B players are usually the most secure people in any company. They ignore political infighting and get back to business, quietly completing projects while A players  jockey for new positions.

How to avoid loosing valuable B Players:

  • Accept differences. We’re all tougher on people who differ from us. If you’re an A player, avoid the temptation to undervalue B performers. Ask what they want from their careers, then match them with mentors who’ll help them get it.
  • Give the gift of time. Track your communication patterns to ensure you’re not ignoring—and thus alienating—solid performers.
  • Hand out the prizes. Since B players are promoted relatively infrequently, reward them in others ways. Even handwritten notes of appreciation can make them feel valued and motivated.
  • Give choices to B players. Rather than grooming star players exclusively, allocate scarce resources—compensation, coaching, promotions—to high-potential B players. Promoting sideways can provide appealing career alternatives.  (In sports, when you develop an entire team, it is called developing bench strength.)

Sources:

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About bryantanner

I'm obsessed with learning via the appropriate technology. My professional mission is to effectively deliver instruction to learners in a way that yields the greatest results for all stakeholders involved.
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One Response to Don’t Discount the “B Players” in your Organization

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