xvi) A & B Players

Too much focus on the staff in the "A" players (stars, high flyers, most talented performers, more mobile, etc) and not enough focus on the "B" players (supporters, the stayers, doers, steady performers, stabilizers, survivors, etc).

- the A players can be fiercely ambitious, very capable and intelligent, and treat less talented staff with contempt. On the other hand, as claimed by Steven Berglas (2006), many A players use a veneer of self-satisfaction and smugness to hide a lack of confidence, ie insecure over-achievers. Thus they need special attention, ie personalized praise to handle their special needs (weaknesses and vulnerabilities). For example, sports coaches of superstars use them as junior coaches to the team.

- the B players can have a bigger impact on the change process as they stay with the organisation longer and are more likely to be the opinion-makers

"...found that companies' long-term performance ‐ even survival ‐ depends far more on the unsung commitment and contribution of their B players......many B players are less ambitious than A players and therefore remain in one position longer......their tenure fosters stability and deep knowledge of the organisation's culture, political dynamics, and processes. Often, such employees cultivate extensive networks and become the "go to" experts - people consult them when pushing initiatives through politically challenging terrain..."Thomas J Delong et al, 2003

The quickest way to identify the B players is to list the people who make the fewest demands on senior managers' time. Furthermore, within the B players are individuals who

- have ratcheted down their careers for personal/family reasons

- are truth tellers (more interested in their work than careers, and have a zeal for honesty and reality in interacting with superiors)

- are go-to people (have second-rate functional skills. On the other hand, they have great knowledge of the organisation's process and norms)

- "middling" (they take the "path of least resistance" and steer clear of risk. They are not entrepreneurial but are responsible and care deeply about the organisational values)

These B players are not necessarily ready for new roles but can benefit from training to help them perform better in their current positions and perhaps assume some new responsibilities within those roles.

In the Consolidated Group of companies (Packer family), the average length of time the B players have worked in the Packer organisation was 11 years. This is considerable longer than the A players who regularly do not complete their contracted period of tenure.


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