Know Your A-Player Profile

Earl Weaver, former manager of the Baltimore Orioles, has nothing but contempt for modern day baseball philosophy that emphasizes statistical analysis to manage games. Weaver’s philosophy (minus the expletives) is simple: get the strongest players you can and have them hit the ball out of the park. You can read more about this philosophy from a related Sports Illustrated article here

I recently talked to the president of a marketing business who told me that he wants to double the number of “homerun hitters” that he has in his organization. He wants people who can anticipate problems, see opportunities, and create solutions that serve customers. Another way of saying this is that the most valuable people in his business are those who know how to create solutions for customers and who can lead other employees to be a part of that process.

If you want to increase the number of strong leaders and performers in your company, here are two points to consider:

Every position has a combination of technical skills and behavioral skills required to qualify as an A-Player. What is the A-Player profile for key roles in your company? Don’t assume that people “will know an A-Player when they meet one.” They won’t. Or, worse, every person involved in the hiring process will have a different picture of what it means to be an A-player. Get everyone on the same page regarding this A-Player Profile so you can put on a big push to find and hire the best people.

In addition, not all employees are created equally. You should be investing your time with the A-players you already employ. Keep track of how much time you spend with your A players versus your problem children employees. Don’t spend too much time trying to solve problems for your average to poor performers while neglecting your best people. Your best employees don’t need their hands held. They do need you to provide them with the training and resources necessary to be successful. When you spend your time putting out fires for weaker performers, you do exactly that – spend your time. The only return you get is a resolved problem that should have been taken care of by someone else. However, when you invest your time with A-players, you give your best people the time and attention they need to do their jobs better. They take on even more responsibility and you fulfill one of your priorities – building an organization that has greater capacity to create value for customers and generate strong financial results in the process.

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