Full Article in Forbes:
Every time I tell a manager, “You are managing personalities,” I’m typically met with a puzzled look of, “this Vice President is out of her mind.” But the rule to keeping employees happy is simple: Do unto others as you would like done unto you.
I have proven over and over again that all it takes is the human touch: showing that we care and the organization has the best interest of its people at heart in every decision. The department is called human resources for a reason. The word “human” tells us there must be some human factor to running a successful organization.
As a manager, I think it is important to understand the personalities of the employees you manage. There is a root to every act and if you take the time to understand the foundation of every member of your team, you will be able to lead a successful department.
Identify Your A, B And C Players
Managers struggle and departments fail because they do not know their key players. Once you know who your key players are, you will better understand how to manage them. In the perfect world, we would like to think we only hire “A players.” Everyone interviews so well and looks amazing on paper, and then harsh reality hits: I might not have made such a good hiring decision. Well, not so fast. Before you start to feel disappointed, I recommend you figure out how to bring out the best in this individual.
Here is my simple methodology for identifying A, B and C players:
1. Always ready for a challenge: These employees will take any task given to them, no matter the complexity. They will show up before their start time and stay until the last leave, if necessary. They will volunteer themselves even if their plates are already full. A players are very focused on their careers and understand that their way to the top is doing things outside of the job description. One thing I love about A players is their ability to learn quickly.
A players know how to work independently and do not like to be micromanaged. If you try to micromanage an A player, they’ll get frustrated and shut down. They begin to feel they are not good enough and that you don’t trust them, and cease to give the usual 110 percent. Often times this is how they end up in the B or C player rooms. They are not meant to be caged; they need to know you trust them.
2. Better on a team: These employees cannot work independently. They are really good at solving one piece of the puzzle. You have to assign them to a team, preferably with other B players who have expertise in different areas. Sometimes you can find A players with the B player mentality. Over time they have given up on the organization and their manager because their experiences have led them to stop trying and they no longer believe. When you identify this scenario playing out in your organization, ask: Whose fault is this?
B players can easily be transitioned back to the top. Managers, if you recognize someone on your team is a B player with an A player personality, you must support them by slowly assigning tasks that will allow them to work on a team, but with independent responsibilities. Give them an affirmation of the great work they have done and how valuable they are to your department. Your words will be planted like seeds in their minds.
3. Can’t wait to go home: These employees are your clock watchers. They come in a little after 9 a.m. They complain about yesterday and tomorrow. You will find them in the parking lot five mins after 5 p.m. C players do just enough to not lose their job. They strategically know how to complete tasks at the final hour and, in the process, have mastered how to make everyone around miserable. I have met many C players who have become C players over time for many different reasons. I have found A and B players in the C player room.
The A and B players in the C player room are a bit tricky to manage. Before you terminate, get curious about their state of mind; I always want to know what happened to that great employee with the drive that you once saw. This is how you gain entry into the mind of the C player. Managers need to know how to receive and process the information shared. They should make an assessment. Some issues can be cured by making adjustments in assignments until the employee has passed through the difficult phase of their life. Ultimatums issued with care can scare a C player back up the ladder.
For the true C players, they are not always meant to be terminated. Some teams need C players to succeed; you just have to know what your C player has to offer and not assign them A and B players’ tasks. When you keep giving them roles that they are not capable of fulfilling, you are setting your department up for failure.
The state of your organization relies on your leaders. When I ask how healthy an organization is, the first thought that typically comes to mind is the revenue and bottom line. The view from my office says corporate health is not how many dollars your organization collects, but rather the state of mind of your employees.
Are your managers equipped to manage people? Everyone has a story and that story has led them to your organization. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to understand the root causes of their behavior? We must train our managers to manage with care.