We all know the “A players” at the firm. They push themselves and are self-motivated and successful.
On the flip side, we all know the C players. They struggle with tasks and aren’t engaged in their work.
These groups get a lot of attention from management—both good and bad. The ones who don’t get as much attention are the B players, when in reality, they’re who the focus should be on.
But rather than training and developing B players, most companies look to outside talent when they have a need. But that’s the wrong approach to take, especially considering the talent shortage in the finance profession. B players have the potential to become A players, and firms should be focusing on developing this group to help drive the company’s growth.
These are five reasons why:
B players take direction. While A players will take initiative and go 100 miles per hour on their own, B players need guidance and direction. They need to talk through projects and assignments and look at the bigger picture before diving in. But once they have that direction, they take it and apply it to their work and deliver results.
B players deliver. A players over-deliver, C players under-deliver. B players fall in the middle, getting done what’s asked of them. Unlike C players, B players put effort into assignments and tasks, and they deliver on time. They typically don’t take things a step further the way an A player does, but at the end of the day, they have the potential to make an impact on the firm’s bottom line.
B players are flexible. B players are ready and willing to make changes and be on the move. Whether it’s something as small as switching desks in the office or as big as taking on a different client, B players will be flexible and make those changes without complaining or causing problems. Most B players, especially those who can become A players, are willing to step up to the plate when called upon.
B players are curious. An A player will take a task they’ve been given and start attacking it right away. They execute first and ask questions later. B players, on the other hand, take a softer approach. They ask questions first. They want to understand how their assignment or role contributes to the company, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The fact that they’re curious is a strong sign they’re engaged. But they may take longer to get going on a project, so as their manager, it’s important to encourage them to take a stab at executing on their own first, and then ask questions later.
B players are ambitious. B players want to develop, want to succeed. They want to do well, and they'll do what's asked of them. Most will say they want to earn more money and get promoted. The strongest B players want to eventually be seen as A players in the office—they just need more guidance and direction in order to get there.
B players make up the majority of firms—as much as 60-70 percent. That means more than half of employees may not be receiving the time and attention they need, leading to turnover and low morale. In order to develop a strong succession plan, managers need to talk through projects and assignments with them. They need to give them attention and feedback regularly. Tom Gimbel is the founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, a staffing and recruiting firm specializing in accounting and finance.This article will appear in an upcoming edition of AFP Exchange.