B- The Champion of an Organization
Who are the ‘B’ players? What is their role? How can organisations engage them better?
Over the few years we have increasingly become focused on our ‘A’ performers. In fact, when you search material on ‘B’ players you are bound to stumble upon articles that’ll give you tips to convert your ‘B’ players to ‘A’ players. It’s no surprise that in a tryst to stay on the top many leaders succumb to the thought of their ‘A’ player being the star of the show and neglecting a large chunk of their workforce in the process.
Who are the ‘B’ players?
According to professor Thomas J Delong and Vineeta Vijayraghavan, B players are the supporting cast of any organization and play a very crucial role in the smooth workings of a business. They have often been in the organization for a while, tend to conform and continue commit to the organization without much handholding. Yet organizations categorize them as the “second fiddle”. If you are wondering why despite such positive attributes’ “B” players are looked at from this lens, then you are not wrong. The key distinction lies in:
- Their demeanour, most ‘B’ players tend to work in the shadows and rarely try to bring attention to themselves.
- Their need for a work-life balance, whilst a B player excels in their work, it does not come at a heavy price of personal time – especially time spent with friends and family.
The importance of ‘B’ Players
It’s no surprise that a large chunk of an organisation’s population are all B’s. They fit snuggly right in between the star players and the poor performers. They are the ones holding the fort when ‘A’ players leave the organisation and the ones who tend to consistently deliver. In a sense they are the ones who are most adaptable to change, come to terms with any restructuring quickly and they are ones to help the company bolster major changes. Perhaps the most crucial quality of a ‘B’ player is that they tend to ask the toughest, yet most authentic questions which enables other people who trust their ideas and judgements. They are the ones supporting newer members through the “tough times” and really offering all their expertise sans the need for recognition.
Engaging your ‘B’ Players
Here are a few pointers distilled from our interactions with leaders who have faced this issue over the years:
- Micro-Culture. While it’s true that an organizational culture plays the most important role when it comes to engaging employees, one must take into account a team’s micro culture. What are your team members saying? Or not saying? Are you able to create that space and understanding for your ‘B’ players? What can you do in your team context to help your ‘B’ players appreciated? Prachee Phule, senior consultant with Human Dynamic says “It’s important to acknowledge your ‘B’ players, remember to pay attention, coach them even if they seemingly never ask for it.”
- Stay clear of biases. We often tend to get along with people who are similar to us. It is natural for us to gravitate towards people we seemingly get along with better. This can cause one to not understand the motivations, intentions and the style of functioning. We often tend to hold a biased perception then and continue holding on this perception till we lose an integral part of our team. It’s very crucial to monitor, reflect and recalibrate our behaviours to best individual team members.
- Reward their efforts. Because star performers are really good at showcasing their contributions we tend to disregard and not reward the seamless background support that B players tend to offer. These rewards don’t necessarily have to restrict themselves to a monetary compensation, but can be in terms of acknowledgement, a thank you email, a praise or just showing interest in the work they do.
- Helping them do what they do best. An important piece of the puzzle is to understand their individual strengths, review the things that worked and the things that did not work. The intention behind this review would be to help them focus on what they are good at and create that unique identity for themselves.
- Utilising their commitment to help them progress. Talent development initiatives more often than not are hyper focused on the ‘A’ players. What are some of the initiatives that a ‘B’ player would appreciate? How is the organisation facilitating a career progression map for them? It’s of utmost importance to remember that performance is an interplay between intelligence, personality and motivation. Having a customized program for ‘B’ players is imperative in such cases.
While categorisation really helps to keep certain organizational principles and structures in place. It’s important to remember to transcend the labels that we assign, at the end of the day any employee would feel a sense of belonging when their work is noticed, appreciated and are given opportunities to foster their talents.
Do challenges like these feel familiar? How can you really help your C players? If such questions are often something you wonder about, feel free to reach out to Human Dynamic for consultations. We offer customized solutions that perfectly suit your organizational needs.
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Msc Psychology (Counselling), PGCR (CAT)
Consultant & Client Relationship Manager