Building a team who maximizes profit margins organically…It’s as Easy as ABC

All too often organizations find themselves in a rut with frustrated customers, disengaged associates and declining profit margins despite their best efforts. Often times, there is an underlying cause that requires a deeper focus; one within our control. It’s no secret that our team of associates has a direct impact on the bottom line. How do you build a team so successful that your profit margin widens organically? An analysis on the performance, conduct and attitude of each individual associate is a great place to start. Begin by categorizing each team member into one of 3 pre-determined categories:

A Players– these are your associates who you can always rely on no matter the circumstances at hand. They have an innate desire for the organization to succeed. They are a constant ambassador and they offer a positive attitude with unmatched initiative. You often hear direct accolades from your customers in regards to their experiences with these associates. They work hard, come to the table with solutions and stand out amongst their peers on a regular basis. These associates are considered highly engaged.

B Players– these are your associates who would be considered consistent. They will show up for their scheduled shifts but most times you will find they do the basics. They don’t wow you but they don’t cause you issues either. Their attitude is likely to shift day to day based on existential circumstances but overall they are pleasant. These associates will participate when called upon but typically show indifference to the overall success of the organization. They are there to collect their paycheck and they’re more likely to “watch the clock”. These associates are considered semi-engaged.

C Players– these are your associates who are unreliable and inconsistent. They bring with them a sense of entitlement and negativity and they show no interest in the success of the organization. They often fail to meet the objectives at hand and tend to cause disruption in the workplace. It’s not uncommon for you to experience poor attendance patterns and negative customer complaints. These associates are considered disengaged.

Once you’ve designated associates into the subjective categories, you’ll want to view your results holistically. Where have the majority of your associates been categorized? Can you see a pattern or trend with how your associates have been categorized and the current state of your operations?

As leaders we understand the financial impacts of recruitment, retention, culture and morale on the bottom line. Inherently the more A-players you have, the stronger your organization will thrive.   The more C  players you have, the harder it will be to drive profitability. This concept coincides nicely with the familiar phrase, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” which in business, is often thought of as a means to finalize or solve your outstanding initiatives through active outreach. However, in terms of ABC players, consider this example more like the disruptive child, or C Player, who consumes all your attention while their angel of a sibling, or A Player, is off doing his or her homework without being asked to do so! Your C players are the ones who will suck all your precious time and energy and convert it into a dark cloud that consumes your organization. You must convert it back!

Your biggest area of opportunity lies within your B Players. These are the associates you should intentionally seek to convert to A-players before they become enraptured in the cloud of the C players. Whereas B players are largely considered to be passive in terms of their interest and engagement, it’s not too late for them to learn their value and potential within the organization. This will take time and effort and we strongly encourage you to actively involve your A players in assisting with this conversion process.

Your A-players are often your most vulnerable.  If we go back to the concept of  “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, it’s obvious your A-players don’t require your attention as frequently as your B and C players.  Let’s face it, as leaders we’re in the business of putting out fires so it’s likely your time is focused on your C players and the challenges they cause,  leaving you to rely on the fact that your A-players innately hold a high level of self-motivation, discipline and initiative.

While you’re busy tending to your C players, a vicious cycle is occurring and before you know it your misplaced focus propels B-players to convert to  C players. Albeit slowly, it’s likely your A players will seek alternate paths of employment out of frustration.   Don’t make the mistake of assuming every A  player is happy. Your A-players still need recognition to keep their self-motivation clock ticking.  The challenge with your A-players is finding ways to recognize them as they’re constant in their exceptional results. A simple “thank you” can surely go a long way but eventually this form of appreciation will be overlooked.

What’s the best way to keep A players engaged? Challenge and empower them! Your A players are smart and when they are given appropriate challenges, especially those that allow for them to view the organization’s missions in a holistic sense, you will find these associates to be invested and committed to the bottom line organically. You pair up an A player with a B player and offer them both a collective challenge in this manner, it’s likely you’ll close out the project with two A players at hand. Side note- monitor closely to ensure you haven’t miscategorized a C player as a B player here, otherwise, your results may vary!

We know you’re all wondering what to do with your C players. Unfortunately, the time and energy it would take to convert a C player into an A or B player is like spreading frozen butter on dry bread; possible, but probably not the best use of your time! A good leader will never be inclined to give up on their associates but a great leader will never be inclined to stand by and watch their organization slowly deteriorate in front of their eyes. As challenging as it may be, your best move is to free the ship from its excess weight before it sinks. Replace your C players as quickly as you can and you’ll be surprised to feel the weight off your shoulders and the positive ripple effect it will have on your team.

Studies confirm happy and engaged employees contribute to simplified recruitment measures, higher retention rates, positive community relations, happy customers and a stronger culture overall. Business is about people and people continue to evolve. This practice should be no different, so be sure to go back regularly to evaluate the conversions that have occurred. If done well this will allow for you as a leader to focus your energy in the right places. The places that drive revenue, leading to a successful organization who attracts A players providing more value to your bottom line!