Accepted wisdom for categorizing employees suggests 3 levels. The “C” player is the chronic underperformer. Easy to spot, they are unhappy with where they are, may disdain the organization or the world, and reject attempts at change. These are the people that are better off someplace else.
The “B’s” are the ones with the potential to be more significant contributors. They need a goal to achieve and a good reason to contribute. Like something you thought you lost forever; cultivating current employees is almost free. Making B’s into A’s, means happier customers. Happy customers, make more money!
“A” players are givers. They set the tone and are a model for others to follow. Look around your organization, chances are if your team is populated with a majority of A’s your company is on a sustainable footing. However, when an A player comes to you with a letter of resignation it could be a warning sign. If you wonder why you can recruit or hold good people you need to ask them and yourself some questions. Unsatisfied employees leave for several basic reasons, and it is usually not just about money.
The culture [read owner] sets the tone. An aspiring employee needs to know there is a bright future ahead for them and the company, a place that is worth investing some of their DNA. A’s get lonely, in a sea of B’s and C’s. A’s feel the culture bringing them down, especially when management seems blind to it.
Losing good employees and keeping underperformers is neglectful, it reflects poorly on everyone. If you are intent on growing a sustainable company, you have a responsibility to the individuals under your direction to help them stay engaged and motivated to perform at a higher level. The design and integration into the routine usually takes the most energy.
I believe most workers have a sincere desire to meet all of management’s reasonable objectives. Gauging a person’s ability and commitment comes in recruiting, orientation, and through regularly scheduled employee reviews.
Here are several ideas to get the team-building process launched.
- Create a “team” structure with defined roles and clear objectives
- Use a structured recruiting and hiring template. Include specifics on skills, expectations and responsibilities. (Contact me for a free template adaptable for almost any position)
- Communicate company objectives, include metrics, comments and illustrations on how any one individual’s job contributes to the goal
- Share results throughout the organization. Everyone has a stake in “making it,” therefore everyone should know how the company is doing every month.
- Commit to being a better leader. Take a course, find a business coach, or join a pier advisory group.
Since 1999, Lauterback Consulting has stimulated more than 120 companies by leading growth, turnaround and start-up initiatives. Steve Lauterback works with owners of privately-held companies to build robust business development platforms, optimize operational systems and improve the culture. My acquisition option may be the right answer for a chronically underperforming company.