Attracting and Retaining ‘A’ Players

Staff ShopBlog

As Andrew Valdez said, “No one makes it alone.” 


One of the fundamental aspects of your business is your team – your employees – the people and engine that keep things running and growing. For teams big and small, it’s important that you have the right people in the right roles. We touched on this in our last blog, on how we manage a remote team, but this factor is important in any organization.


While some people adhere to the philosophy that you need ‘A,’ ‘B’ and ‘C’ players to support your mission and vision, at Staff Shop we are made up of 100% ‘A’ players. We believe that if you want ‘A’ level results, you need ‘A’ players.


What are ‘A’ Players? 

In the simplest terms, an ‘A’ player is someone who is in a role that is perfectly cut out for them. This means that leaders aren’t having to micromanage them, because they are in the right role where they naturally perform extremely well individually, and as a team.


There are some key competencies found in ‘A’ players. (1) Firstly,  they are resourceful – meaning they are good problem solvers. They are also known to be (2) stealthy aware, and they make (3) good leaders because they can spot other ‘A’ players. 


In his talk, “Building a Winning Team,” Dave Ramsey says that ‘A’ players are like thoroughbreds. They like to run together, and to keep up with each other. They each try to keep up with one ahead until they pass it, so they are constantly elevating each other. If you place a thoroughbred in a stable of donkeys, it will become frustrated at its slow peers and will not perform at its best – so it is important that you build a team of thoroughbreds rather than hoping that one ‘A’ player will solve your problems.


At the same time, if you place a donkey in a herd of thoroughbreds, it will still never catch up with a thoroughbred! It will be way out of its league and the thoroughbreds will not wait for it. A ‘donkey’ could be a poor fit for the company, or simply a player who is not in the right role.


In some cases, ‘A’ players can be created by redeploying ‘B’ and ‘C’ players into roles that suit their strengths and core values. But the key, as we will unpack in a moment, is investing the time upfront to hire the right players in the first place.


Attracting the Right People!

When you refocus your hiring practices to maintain a team of ‘A’ players, you will notice your turnover rate drop, and your culture will start to thrive.


According to a leadership discussion with CEO Global Network, the man who set up the hiring practices for General Electric (GE) in the 1980s and 90s, Dr. Bradford Smart, used a method that brought down the mishiring rate from 69.3% to less than 10.5%. This was done by primarily hiring ‘A’ players.


At Staff Shop, we follow the “hire slow, fire fast” philosophy of hiring. We take a lot of time up front ensuring we have the right people in the right roles. As we said, quite often ‘B’ and ‘C’ players are actually ‘A’ players who are simply in the wrong role – and they should be moved into a role where they can perform as an ‘A’ player or moved out, into the right organization. Respectfully, it’s important to note that we are referring to ‘players’ – not ‘B and C persons.’


We discussed this in a past blog, but it’s worth reiterating that the CVI (the Core Values Index) is an important tool to use during our hiring process. The CVI allows us to apply a score to roles and then match them up with the right candidate. This is one of the ways in which we discover our ‘A’ players, as this tool highlights what people value, allowing us to know if they will feel personally and professionally fulfilled in the position.


Retaining your A Team.

At Staff Shop, along with the CVI, we use a 10-step process to hire. This roadmap removes factors such as salary and material as primary motivators for seeking new employment, and focuses instead on purpose and fulfillment.


We wrote in the past about “working on the business, instead of in the business” and a big part of making that happen was the ‘A’ players. It’s your ‘A’ team that allows you to step back and focus on growth and the future. A recent Gallup poll revealed that only 1/3 of employees are engaged in work. That is not a sustainable statistic. With a team of ‘A’ players, you will know you have a group of driven and motivated individuals on your side. Dr. Marilyn Gist wrote in “The Extraordinary Power of Leader Humility,” that ‘A’ players can increase your organization’s productivity by 400 to 800% over “the average employee.” If that isn’t proof that this method of hiring and supporting your people works, we’re not sure what is. 


As long as you do your part as a leader to keep them growing, you won’t have to worry about them disengaging from the work. Ensuring you give them autonomy, room to be creative and you trust them to use their gifts and talents, your retention rate should be high. Retaining your ‘A’ players is critical to success and failure usually occurs at the leadership level if they leave. Research shows that approximately 75% of the reasons ‘A’ players leave could have been prevented by their Manager. 


So, in the end, it’s up to leaders to first build the right team, then to continually foster their growth while still trusting them to get the job done – as Steve Jobs reminded us; “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” 


JOIN us or HIRE us!


Contact Staff Shop today to learn first hand what it means to be an ‘A’ player. Find personal and professional fulfillment!


Staff Shop Inc. is a privately held Canadian-Indigenous-Women owned staffing and consulting firm servicing Canada I USA I Caribbean as an award-winning diverse supplier, certified with CCAB, CAMSC, WBE & WEConnect International.

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