How to Make the Most of Your "A" Players
BY Elle Kaplan
"A" players are rare, hard to recruit, and completely necessary to a start-up. Make sure you use them to your--and their--best advantage.
When you build your own business from the ground up, you must focus on bringing in “A” players: those who are above-grade and outstandingly talented.
How to spot an A player? They are the people who effortlessly switch from fedora to baseball cap, and perform the corresponding skill well. They constantly surprise you with innovative approaches and excellent work.
This is absolutely critical to your success. To put it bluntly, success is a matter of A players, or failure. At every stage--as you’re starting up, once you’ve expanded to a small business, and during rapid growth phases--every single person’s contribution is crucial. Good is never good enough. When you’re creating a company, it’s not about just passing the test. It’s about acing it.
Most people are not, unfortunately, A players. To be frank, you’ll encounter mostly B’s and even more C’s. C players should be managed out. B players should be evaluated: Can they rise to A level or not?
Your team needs to be optimized just like any other resource. Just because A players are excellent and exceptionally talented doesn’t mean they don’t need to be managed. Make sure that you are making the best use of their abilities by focusing their talents on projects that will be most beneficial to your growth.
For instance, I know one entrepreneur who took his A-playing employee and had her design an internal software system. It would have been less time-consuming and more cost-effective to use an off-the-shelf solution. That business ultimately went under (he has since launched another), but maybe it would have succeeded if his A players had been able to direct their talents towards helping the company achieve profitability.
Identify what each of your A-players is best at, and focus their energy and efforts on doing more of it. At Lexion Capital, we play to each person’s strengths. Instead of giving an employee a 360-degree review and having them work on the areas of weakness, we encourage them to focus on projects that utilize their best skills. By managing to strengths, you use each A player in an area where they have a natural proclivity for peak performance.
As an entrepreneur, you’re aiming for exceptional, not just good. By optimizing your staff so that each team member is performing at the peak of their talent, your business becomes a tight-knit team of experts. All aces.