The best managers regularly practice gratitude. If you’re a manager and reflecting on giving thanks this week, your B players would be a great place to start. According to an article in Network World called “How to unleash the potential of your B players,” managers spend most of their time on A, C, and D players. The article argues this isn’t a good use of time, as A players are self-motivated and don’t really need your focus, while C and D players are very unlikely to move up to become B and C players.
On the other hand, B players are consistent, agreeable, and perhaps most importantly, make up most of your employees. Here are five ways to show your B players some love.
Spend Time With Them
It’s easy for B players to fall between the cracks. They generally follow instructions, meet deadlines, and are true to their word. Set aside some time to take a B player out to lunch. With a little attention he or she could become an A player.
Some experts may disagree but I think people often move back and forth between two rankings. For example a B player may have at one point been an A player but for one reason or another they moved into what I call B mode. Showing a B player they are worth your time may motivate them or help you or they determine what they need to do to rise up.
Give Them Feedback
Before you jump into giving your B player tons of attention out of nowhere you may want to give them some context. As someone who has floated between both ranks, I may be motivated to improve my performance if I’m provided structured feedback. But if I received feedback without context, I may worry I’m in trouble. Fear isn’t a good long term motivational strategy.
Be honest with your B players. Let them know you appreciate their work, have noticed they have the potential to be amazing, and that you would like to see them reach that potential. Also let them know you are there to assist them in getting to that point.
Send Them to Conferences and/or Training
The reason your A-potential B player is still in B mode may be because he or she is lacking some essential skills. Once you have discovered this, look into some conferences or training for that individual.
In addition to strengthening a skill, this action also sends a clear message: “You’re worth investing in.” Telling B players that you want to help them achieve their potential and actually doing something about it are very different things.
Put Them In Situations They Use Their Strengths
You probably don’t have the budget to send all your B players to a conference and they will need further nurturing beyond one event, which is why another great way to invest in them is to be thoughtful about how you place your B players. Perhaps some have amazing communication skills but occasionally lack the know-how to get the job done well. Place them in situations where they can use their strengths.
You may find with some B players that switching them to a role that highlights their strengths was all they needed to become an A player.
Stop Thinking They’ll Never Leave You
Managers assume B players won’t leave for another opportunity, either because they think B players lack the motivation to take action or because they are complacent and have no reason to leave. A great way to show appreciation for your B players is to acknowledge that in many ways they carry the business, they are valuable, and they could leave you. If you don’t, you won’t understand their career goals, and if those expectations aren’t being met, they will eventually leave for another opportunity.
Showing appreciation for your B players is a win win. They deserve to be thanked and, as a manager, investing in B players is the best use of your time.
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