Companies are revisiting and redefining their ideas about which employees are ‘high potential keepers.’ ‘A-level Players are the men and women who’ve proven their relevancy to the organization through their innovation, insight and performance.’ Organizations prize A-Level Players because they are adaptable – they can move to other areas of the company and add value. B-Level Players have demonstrated some potential, but their productivity is inconsistent. And C-Level Players are those who’ve sat on their blessed assurances like frogs in a pot of water on the fire…they can sense that the environment is heating up, but they don’t have the desire or the urgency to do something to save their skins.
In the not-so-distant future, people will be promoted, compensated and celebrated for their ‘innovation’ as opposed to their ‘duration’ with a company. In fact, the future may be here already!
In the past, workforce reductions typically involved C-Level employees. But in today’s do-more-with-less business environment, more often than not, B-Level Players are being shown the door.
John, a friend of mine told me a compelling story. As he walked into his office one morning, his Manager asked to speak with him – privately! His boss gave John the good news that he’d just received a substantial bonus. However, the boss then went on to explain that, effective ‘that very same day,’ the organization was undergoing RIF actions (Reductions in Force) and that John’s counterpart in the department was being let go.
Now, that may not seem like a terribly interesting story…until I tell you that John has only been with the organization for six months (and earned a sizable bonus), while his counterpart had been there five years (and received a pink slip). Furthermore, in the performance review, John received just the week before, his manager noted that John brought best-practice methods to the department and the organization, saved the company money, identified potential revenue streams, and assisted other co-workers and departments in meeting their goals. Sounds to me like John is an A-Level Player!
And what about his counterpart who was let go? John described her as a great person and someone who was a team player, completed tasks on time and did what she was asked to do. In other words, she was a B-Level Player.
Friends, let me put the truth on the table: Being a ‘good’ employee or manager simply isn’t enough anymore!
Now, let me ask you: Which type of player are you ‘today?’ Which type of player do you aspire to be?
The hard truth is that most people are B-Level Players. And that’s okay – do you know why? Because you can change! With a sharpening of your skills, a change in your mindset and an adjustment of your focus, you can become an A-Level Player. Furthermore, due to differences in objectives, roles and responsibilities, someone who is a B-Level Player in one organization might be an A-Level Player in another. It’s all about the right fit.
If you want to move up in your organization, make more money, earn some recognition and achieve a sense of accomplishment, then rid yourself of all forms of mediocrity. If you spend much of your time looking busy or important in front of the boss, or politicking for advancement or a bigger bonus, you might want to rethink what you’re doing. Otherwise, before long, you may be looking for another job.
A-Level Players are relevant. They are entrepreneurial-minded in all they do. High-potential people are the CEOs of their jobs – they take ownership and make things happen instead of waiting to be told what to do. A-Levels players have radical insight and ask, “What if?” or “Is there a better way to achieve the goal?” They think strategically and innovatively about ways to generate revenue, save money and create efficiency. And finally, top-notch employees and leaders follow the same forward-thinking principle as the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky, who said: “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it is.”
I have watched A-Level players and they refuse to give their power away by accepting others’ opinions, head trash and limited view of the world, and then wonder why they’re stuck. A-Level players kick the addiction to other people’s views and opinions ‘people bondage.’ It’s one of the most debilitating diseases in the world because it causes you to give your energy away to others who don’t ‘get you.’ If you let it, people bondage will eventually cripple your future. Herbert Bayard Swope is quoted as saying, “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure: Try to please everybody.”
How can you become an A-Level Employee?
- Identify ways to make or save the organization money.
- Propose a better way of completing a task or process.
- Determine how you can integrate the various ‘hats you wear’ into a strategic role that touches several parts of the organization.
- Raise your hand and take on the project that no one else wants.
- Execute consistently – follow up and follow through. Don’t allow projects to die on the vine.
How can you become an A-Level Manager?
- Coach your A-Level employees for retention, your B-Level employees for performance, and your C-Level employees to find their happiness elsewhere.
- Teach your team how the finances work in your organization. Enhance their financial intelligence so they can contribute to the bottom line.
- Give a portion of your bonus to those staff members who assist you in achieving your goals. (I suppose HR might shoot down this idea because C-Level Employees could cry discrimination…oh well, it was a good thought. Laugh…I did.)
- Make a commitment to read the Executive Summary of “The Harvard Business Review and Strategy & Business magazine.” It will give you incredible insights into how to be an innovator in your organization.
- If you’re performing multiple roles in a do-more-with-less corporate culture, consider it a blessing instead of a curse. Why? If you’ll pay attention, you should be able to develop relevant insight into how to improve the business.
Every day, you have a new opportunity to demonstrate your insight and innovation. Remember, your relevance is your point of differentiation.
Simon says, “If you don’t want to be obsolete, you must be relevant!”