Thomas J. DeLong, “Managing B Players”, HBR Ideacast, 2008/01/03

Companies that expect everyone to be an “A performer” may be missing out.

In the much-heralded war for talent, it’s hardly surprising that companies have invested a lot of time, money, and energy in hiring and retaining star performers. For most CEOs, recruiting stars is simply more fun; for one thing, the young A players they interview often remind them of themselves at the same age. For another, A players’ brilliance and drive is infectious; you simply want to be in their company.

Besides, in these troubled times, when businesses are so vulnerable, people who seem to have what it takes to turn around a company’s performance are almost irresistible. But our understandable fascination with star performers can lure us into the dangerous trap of underestimating the vital importance of the supporting actors.

It’s true that A players can make enormous contributions to performance. Yet, as the authors have found, companies’ long-term performance–even survival–depends far more on the unsung commitment and contributions of their B players. These capable, steady performers are the best supporting actors of the corporate world. They counterbalance the ambitions of the company’s high-performing visionaries. Unfortunately, organizations rarely learn to value their B players in ways that are gratifying for either the company or these employees. This article will help you to rethink the role of your organization’s B players.

Let’s Hear It for B Players (HBR OnPoint Enhanced Edition) – Harvard Business Review

[MP3 audio]

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David Ing blogs at coevolving.com , photoblogs at daviding.com , and microblogs at http://ingbrief.wordpress.com . See .

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