Three Cheers for the B Team
“Employers are coming around to the realization that failure and success might not lie among the weakest and strongest link, but in the solid middle, the 75% of workers who have been all but ignored.” ‐ USA Today “B” Players
(aka middle performers) are the backbone of every organization. While high and low performers get most of the attention, middle performers typically make‐up 75% of the workforce, and are critical to your organization’s success. But too often, they’re taken for granted and underutilized. Too many managers just don’t know what to do with “B” Players, what they’re capable of, or how to motivate them. Some people argue that when the employment market is hot and companies need to hold on to people, they need to engage more with their B players. Those same people argue that in a tight economy, it doesn’t matter whether or not B players are engaged; they’ll just sit tight because they have no other choice. Sure, most leaders we speak with know that, yes, they might be able to get away with taking B players for granted in a tight economy, but that this is no way to achieve greater productivity or performance as a company over the long haul. A much better model would be to invest and engage in the broad middle of the workforce, even at a time when the company might be downsizing, so that what you are left with is actually a more resilient organization. But since most leaders are themselves highly motivated A players
, they tend to undervalue B players who have a different worldview. Organizations rarely learn to value their B players in ways that are gratifying for either the company or these employees. Indeed, organizations often create a vicious cycle in which solid performers are secure enough not to ask for feedback, so leaders focus on high and low performers who need more attention. As a result, B performers stay off the radar and get fewer job opportunities because they’re seldom considered in career-planning meetings when possible promotions are discussed. So like a company’s pedestal-standing A players, B players need nurturing and recognition as well. Without encouragement, they will begin to see themselves as C players or eventually begin to feel that they’re being taken for granted. They disconnect from the soul of the organization and start to look for jobs elsewhere. Losing a solid B performer in this way is a failure for any organization. This is where POPin comes in. POPin sessions can help you gather information, ideas, and strategies from ALL your players. Talk with your “B Players” and have conversations that are contained, curated and controlled to maximize engagement and the “feeling” of contribution. At a minimum you will give everyone a feeling of involvement and at best you may push B players into A status.