Make Your Team Great by Focusing on B Players

Davana Pilczuk

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

Time and time again I see managers make the same mistake. In an effort to get quick results, they focus heavily on their A-players. However, if teams want to create a winning streak, they need to think differently. In order for your team to get powerful results, be resistant to burnout and resistant to high turnover, focus on your B- players.

Who’s an A-Player?

A-players are those individuals who have the trifecta of qualities: naturally talented, strong work ethic and are highly skilled. A-players are usually intrinsically motivated and very capable of handling tough situations with little to no supervision. Managers love when they get A-players on their team because it makes their life so much easier and often very rewarding. Why? Simple. A’s help you win. A lot. They are usually the ones who land the big sale, generate innovative ideas and work their tails off to get the job done. A’s are exciting to watch, fun to manage and exceptionally easy to rely on. No wonder they are so utilized.

Downside of A’s

Unfortunately, there are some down falls to having A’s on your team. Most of the time these individuals know they are valuable, which makes them prime targets for other companies and teams to pluck them from under your nose. Don’t get too attached because your most talented people will most often be the first to leave. A’s also tend to be extremely hard on themselves and will continue to push through a task, even when its wiser for them to take a break. This high degree of internal motivation often opens the door for burnout, which can be lengthy and difficult to recover from. Socially, A’s often tend to stand alone. Their high performance creates resentment with lower performing teammates and often a division amongst the team will start to occur. When managers favor A’s, they unknowingly help deepen the divide between employees.

Focus On the B’s

There is actually a great way to prevent all the above from happening. Make a concerted effort to focus on the ‘B’s. These are the team members who are solid performers and give time and time again. They rarely miss work. They do what you ask them to do. They may not be shiny, but they are most likely the bulk of your team. The B’s don’t usually have high amounts of charisma or gifted levels of talent, but usually their skills are decent and so is their work ethic. Those two things that can be greatly improved upon. 

The amount of gain you get from making an A-player into an A+-player is small and requires a high degree of attention from the manager to focus on tweaking subtle aspects of the player’s game. Turning a ‘B’ into an ‘A’ actually yields a higher return on investment since these individuals simply need a small degree of attention to tweak common mistakes, that once fixed, can yield huge improvement. B’s also flourish from one on one positive feedback, which they often don’t get from managers. By strengthening your B-players, you increase the depth of your team, make them feel valued and increase the team’s ability to be more resilient. If the thought of losing your best employee scares you, then you haven’t invested enough in the others.

The next time you have a big project or have a game to play, stack the deck with your B’s and teach them how to rise to the challenge. The reward will be a little slower coming, but in the end not only will you have a powerhouse team and developed yourself as a true leader, you will have invested in people whom others have dismissed. Your employees will remember you because being invested in is the greatest gift a person can receive. 

Davana Pilczuk, PhD, is an award winning kinesiologist who specializes in the field of human performance. She is an avid speaker and writer, and has consulted for several Fortune 500 companies, universities and medical groups. She can be reached at or follow her on twitter @DavanaHPG.