As a CEO, how do you know that your employee is an A, B, or C player? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Greg Skloot, founder of Weekly Update, on Quora:

To identify if an employee is an A, B or C player, I consider 4 criteria:

  1. What happens when you delegate to them?
  2. What happens when you recruit?
  3. What happens when they need to do something new?
  4. What happens when they are blocked?

Now, to look at A, B, C players based on that criteria:

A Players

  • When you delegate to them, you are confident it will get done
  • When you recruit, you look for others that are similar
  • When they need to do something new, they teach themselves
  • When they are blocked, they ask for help

B Players

  • When you delegate to them, they get it mostly done, but need guidance
  • When you recruit, you always look for someone better
  • When they need to do something new, you have to guide them towards how to learn it
  • When they are blocked, they waste time trying to figure it out inefficiently, rather than admit they are struggling

C Players

  • When you delegate to them, you are worried it won't get done well
  • When you recruit, you purposefully look for someone very different
  • When they need to do something new, you need to precisely show them exactly how to do it, and it often still gets done wrong
  • When they are blocked, they rarely ask for help and instead just let the project slip

While there are certainly other criteria a CEO can use, I've found this a good start to understand who your A, B and C players are. As you think about how to effectively manage each of these types, consider:

1. Set clear objectives and definitions for success

Everyone needs to be aligned on what the objectives are, and how success is being measured. A players will be eager to be a part of the process to define it. For B players, it's important that they feel bought into the process, even if they may not contribute as much. C players will find excuses why the objectives are unachievable and success unrealistic.

2. Hold everyone accountable for delivering results

A very quick way to expose A, B, C players is truly holding everyone accountable for delivering results. Part of why I built Weekly Update (a tool for teams to share status updates each week) is because I saw the value of getting objectives and progress in writing. It is the only way people can be truly held accountable. A players will be eager to participate, highlight their wins and comment on losses. B players will as well, but may be more reserved in how they share. C players will want to avoid this at all costs, because it exposes their failure to deliver.

3. Always (always!) let go of C players

The biggest mistake I've made in this area is keeping C players too long. I'd give myself excuses like:

  • They are filling the role I need now
  • It will be too painful to have that role empty
  • It will be too annoying to find someone new

Every time, I have ultimately regretted not letting go of a C player sooner. C players drag down the team and create weak links in an otherwise strong chain. It takes some guts and leadership to make those changes, but it almost always is the right decision.

4. Coaching is used to turn B Players into A Players

When you have a B player, that is a perfect opportunity for coaching, mentoring and guidance. There are so many cases where after a period of time, a B player can step up into a B+ and ultimately an A. For C Players, coaching is difficult. By nature of being a C player, they are less likely to respond well to coaching, or to even recognize that they have a need to improve. Thus, see point #3 on always letting go of C players.

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Published on: Mar 14, 2018