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Focusing Beyond A-players to Develop your A-Game

Recently, I have seen several invites to webinars about finding and developing HiPos and A-players in your organization. I find this thinking very shortsighted. In most cases, it won’t provide what’s needed in your organization for breakthrough performance. Here’s why: Today’s work requires teams to execute strategy. Optimizing one part of a system may not improve the whole system’s performance. Optimizing the wrong parts won’t only be ineffective, it is more likely to further compound issues. Focusing specifically on A-players will only be a sound strategy if your organization commits to weeding out any employees that are not high-performing (as exampled in slides 22 through 25 in this¬†Slideshare presentation about Culture at Netflix). But the faulty logic becomes clear with a few simple examples: [list style=”arrow” color=”blue-lite”]

  • Want to slow down the progress of an A-player? Put a B or C player in their workflow. Often, it produces a result equivalent to dragging an anchor behind a rowboat.
  • Who really determines the speed which a team can scale a mountain trail- the fastest or the slowest hiker?
[/list] The issue is so clear with machine processes. One part of the process producing at speeds or quality outpacing other parts of the system wouldn’t be further improved. You would focus on balancing the system as much as possible for best overall result. To truly improve performance, it often isn’t the A-Team that needs support and development. Often, better results would occur from targeted development in resources that are not high-performing but are willing and given the support to raise their game. This is especially true where top performing people in the organization are promoted to management positions. It is often the B and C players who often actually determine the overall execution of strategy, and thus, the velocity of success for your company. ¬†Invest wisely.