A Hard Truth For the Boss: Your B Players Could Be A's if You Were Better at Your Job
In 1999 Peter Drucker wrote an essay for the Harvard Business Review titled “Managing Oneself.” We use it with almost all our clients, regardless of engagement. In 'John Wooden' speak it is at the base of our Pyramid of Success. Drucker asks a series of questions of the reader related to feedback analysis such as: "What are my strengths and values? Where do I belong? How do I work? What can I contribute?" One would expect that the motivated worker would be compelled to implement what they have learned and share with others their answer. Drucker’s logical explanation is sound, well written, and his authority as a leading thinker is beyond reproach. So why doesn't it work? Because it doesn't feel good, and it might not be safe…
Drucker’s logical argument sits right in your teammate’s brain and waits. it waits for an emotion to kick it into gear. This emotion accounts for up to 60% of the missing engagement reserves that plague our workplace today. Managers are responsible for creating the secret sauce, for having insight into what makes their people tick, and then making it safe for the worker to implement Drucker’s insights to strive and reach.
In looking to study this on a first hand basis and because we have the right age children we have volunteered as a youth sport coach for over 250 hours this year. In both recreational and....
select team environments we have observed the massive range of engagement levels based upon the child’s connection to its team and its coaches. 'A' players can perform at a C level in the wrong environment, C players can improve to a B level with the right teaching and if they are in a "safe failing" team setting. What we can learn from 10 year olds is that they are socially aware and they engage and disengage quickly. Add the right leader and they shine up, add the wrong one and they fall to pieces.
Which brings us back to the challenge for the manager when they sit down to do performance reviews. It is easy to give that person a C player label and disparage their commitment to the team, when in fact that is the very moment the boss needs a quick look in a “non-skinny” mirror. It is easy to say we need more A players around here, and of course we have the ghost of Steve Jobs espousing “My A Players stole your B Players lunch money yesterday and there is nothing you can do about it.”
But there is something you can do about it, you can strive to get better at making it safe for your team members to share their answers to Drucker’s questions. With the right mindset, you will seek out opportunities to help your team trust each other and pick each other up after mistakes. You will serve the team, and the more you serve the team, the higher their engagement levels will reach. It is a long hard look in the mirror when your team is full of C’s and B’s, and yet we encourage you to invest in your team as a teacher, coach, manager, and leader. You can get better and so can they.
Read our post on Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivation and Leadership
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Drew Sanders Blog
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