One of the most decisions any business owner can make is upgrading the team with the right people. Some companies upgrade to A-Player Talent and crush it. Others repel these MVPs, and greatly underperform as a result, with the CEO wondering why.

Here’s a step by step guide to get A-Players.

First, what is an A-Player? I define it as a team member who:

  • Is excited by making something bigger,
  • Likes to keep score on performance,
  • Wants feedback & to get better, and
  • Is a Multiplier: they make other team members more effective

And anyone who isn’t an A-Player – whether you call them “B”, “C” – it doesn’t matter. We only care about A-Players.

Your goal as CEO is to upgrade everyone that touches your business to be all A-Players. The more A-Players you have on your team, the better your odds are of an outsized success.

And in terms of A-Players, that’s NOT just referring to your team members, it’s:

  • full-time employees
  • hourly/part-time staff
  • outsourced providers/subcontractors
  • your vendors, and
  • (dare I say it) Your customers

So not only should new hires be A-Players, but your marketing agency, your CPA, your lawyer … This applies to everyone that touches your business. If you’ve ever been frustrated by performance in your work world it’s because they didn’t meet that benchmark.

Why are CEOs plagued by underperformers?

The first reason is the hiring process. Today I’m focusing on what you can do TODAY with your existing team.

You have underperformers because of one reason: you tolerate it

It comes down to whether your organization has a culture of accountability, or not. This is a binary thing. Either everyone, including you the CEO, is accountable, or they’re not.

You make that culture. For those left-brained folks out there (like me), in this case “culture” doesn’t mean foosball tables. It means the social contract of your organization. How the people around your business interact. The Rules of Engagement.

If you let things slide, if you don’t keep score, then it tells the entire organization that performance isn’t what matters most. So then what becomes important? Gossip, office politics, messing around on the Internet all day, or other behavior that’s deadly to results.

Remember how I mentioned that A-Players like to keep score? They like to know how they’re doing – they keep score with themselves. They believe in Accountability (how old-fashioned, I know).

Also, because doing their job means they need to rely on other team members – when other team members aren’t accountable, your A-Players are keeping score. This impacts A-Player performance … And thus morale. They won’t stick around for long. Or they’ll stop performing like an A-Player.

So it’s essential to create an environment of performance.

I’m sorry. 99% of the time you don’t get that by “this business is like a family”

Not telling someone they are underperforming is doing everyone a disservice. You get underperforming people. They don’t know how to do better. Nobody can rely on others to get their part done. Everyone loses.

It’s better to tell an underperformer the truth – then have them get on program, or find another employer where they’ll thrive.

So what do you do?

First, realize that everyone needs to be accountable. That means everyone needs to know the objective criteria for success is for their role. That way you can build a company performance scorecard.

Objective success ISN’T: you and other team members like them.

Objective success IS: there’s a number, they know that number, they’re focused on that number, and they hit that number. And when they don’t, they own it. And learn from it.

With everyone knowing that there are benchmarks of success, A-Players know everyone is keeping score. It increases their confidence. They stick around longer.

What’s best is, when you’re interviewing someone new, the expectations for the role are clear … And A-Players on your team tell the candidates:

“This is a place you can get better”

“You can really own your job here”

“Everyone pulls their weight”

“We’re doing amazing things – together”

So, are you up for upgrading your organization? It involves more work, and hard conversations. But if you do this … You’ll have a high performing company. With real results.

And LESS work for you.

Discover a weekly list of short, actionable steps to get out of operational deadlock, build a self-managing team, grow strategically, and increase company value in the Boardroom Bulletin™.

Categories: Team