Five Ways to Retain and Engage Your ‘B’ Players

By Harvard Business Review
October 12, 2018

They are often the bedrock of an organization. Here’s how leaders can help these everyday performers reach their potential.

We’ve heard for decades that organizations should hire only “A” players. But not only do the criteria for being an “A” player vary significantly by company, it’s unrealistic to think you can work only with “A” players.

Further, this preference for star performers ignores the deep value that the people you may think of as “B” players actually provide.

How can you support your “B” players to be their best and contribute the most possible? Consider these five approaches to help them reach their potential:

Get to know and appreciate them as the unique individuals they are: Learn about their personal concerns, preferences and the way they see and go about their work. Be sure you’re not ignoring them because they’re introverts, remote workers or don’t know how to be squeaky wheels.

Reassess job fit: Employees rarely do their best if they’re in jobs that highlight their weaknesses rather than their strengths.

RELATED: How to Keep Midcareer Employees Engaged, Healthy

Consider the possibility of bias in your assignments: Women and people of color are often overlooked for challenging or high-status assignments because of some antiquated stereotypical view of “leaders.” You have the power to change that.

Intentionally support them to be their best: Some people are their own worst critics or have deep-seated limiting beliefs that hold them back. The support of an executive team can help them step up in the face of new challenges.

RELATED: A Dozen Practical Suggestions for Leadership Effectiveness

Give permission to take the lead: Some “B” players aren’t comfortable in the spotlight, but they thrive when they’re encouraged to complete a mission or to contribute for the good of the company. Encouraging your employees and giving them permission to act allows you to establish a more beneficial partnership.

Copyright 2018 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp. Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

Topics: Management

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