In his book, Topgrading: How Leading Companies Win by Hiring, Coaching, and Keeping the Best People, Dr. Bradford Smart grades candidates by their skills, abilities, and experience as fitting into 3 categories. The A Player employee is one of the Top Ten Percent of employees. They are followed by the B Player employee, based on my experience, who fit into the 55 to 89 Percent rating with the higher ranked B Players nearer to becoming an A Player and the lower B Players closer to the C Players. The C Players probably should not be in management roles (unless Executives see promise and are willing to mentor them). Their performance is the lowest in the company.
How Do C Players Find Their Way Into Management?
There are several paths for C Players to find their way to management positions. Let us be kind and discuss the first path.
They are possibly a new college grad or a person in a blue collar position who has demonstrated the ability to anticipate needs and then act to solve those problems, after a conversation with their manager to build consensus. Over the next several years, their value is recognized and they become B Players. With more experience, 10% of those Employees will become A Players. Yes, A Players are made, not born.
A second path is for the C Player to be the best of the C Players. The organization needs a new Supervisor or Manager. So they promote the C Player into a leadership role. On the surface, this is a good decision because hiring from within is a great practice. The caveat is – if you do not properly train and mentor this new leader, they become a C Player Manager – and that is not fair to them nor anyone they manage.
The third path will probably eventually lead to disaster for someone or some company. The C Player discovers the art of passive-aggressive growth. They gain the trust of coworkers, then use that trust to spread rumors to make their coworkers look bad and make them look good. Sometimes, when given the opportunity, they will take credit for other employees’ accomplishments. They may use these methods to progress through the organization to executive positions because they found the right person to promote them.
The Value Of Training Employees
You may believe this concept is common sense. During a recession, which budget areas are among the first to be cut – and last to be reinstated, sometimes a couple of years later? Training, followed closely by Recruiting.
Where may this practice go wrong? During recessions, people still leave companies, some by company choice, some employees by personal choice, and others for health reasons. Who fills those roles? Most times, the leaders look around and promote from within. This is how C Players may find themselves promoted to management positions. Initially, they may not be happy with the new responsibilities but they Love the raise – and will do anything to protect their new income level.
During one speech to a group of nonprofits on Make Your Company ROAR (Recruit, Onboard, Actuate, Retain) Top Talent, a leader of one of the nonprofits was frustrated because she trained her staff well. Evidently, that practice was noticed by a nearby University, and they recruited three members of her staff over time. She asked me if she should stop training her staff? I wish I could give attribution to the person who created, “What if I train them and they leave? What if I do not train them and they stay?” When I used that quote, to respond to her question, her jaw dropped.
Unfortunately, many companies do a poor job of measuring employee productivity and success. During a layoff, I saw one organization with 3 customer service groups of 10 employees tell each of the managers to lay off their bottom 2 employees (20% RIF). One group of 10 employees was managed by an A Player who usually hired other A Players or a top B Player they could mentor to an A Player. One group was managed by a B Player who was a good manager but not the top 10%. They typically hired good B Player employees and an A Player who had a bad interview day. Finally, the third group was managed by a C Player manager. They NEVER hired anyone they felt could challenge their role as a manager.
The impact was the company lost 2 A Player employees, 2 B Player Employees, and kept 8 C Players. Management needs to be a team sport. Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to replace the C Player Manager with the better of the 2 A Players? Then replace C Players 6 – 8 with the remaining A Player and 2 B Players who otherwise would be laid off? The result through reorganization would be 3 stronger groups with 2 A Player managers.
Train All New Managers
They may have been a great producer but they had not yet developed People Management skills. We often see this in sales organizations where the top sales producer is promoted to Sales Manager. Many times, their sales skills that are focused on their efforts to sell, are not the same skills they need to utilize to manage staff.
The Managers of new Managers need to understand that mentoring is not generally a short-term practice. Proper People management is important to engage their team. An Engaged team is a Retained team.
Recruiting is Not Magic. It is Focused, Hard Work.
Talent Attraction is Better than Talent Acquisition!
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