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Hire Only A & B Players

**This article was written by the U.S. SBA Entrepreneur of the Year, Author, Las Vegas Motivational Speaker and the Founder of DJ Connection Tulsa Wedding DJs, Clay Clark.

Before I begin teaching you the irrefutable truth that YOUR COMPANY CAN THRIVE ONLY IF YOU COMMIT TO RECRUITING AND EMPLOYING “A AND B PLAYERS ONLY,” let’s take a brief time out to assume that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Let’s assume, for a moment that you as the reader don’t value my opinion as a consultant, author and business owners. If that’s the case, whom would you believe? Whose opinion would you value? As a general rule most people only value people who have demonstrated verifiable and profound levels of success. So to prove my point I’m going to start off this chapter by letting you see what Steve Jobs and Jack Welch had to say about hiring and retaining top level people.

  • Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.– Steve Jobs – Founder of Cofounder of Apple
  • “Strong managers who make tough decisions to cut jobs provide the only true job security in today’s world. Weak managers are the problem. Weak managers destroy jobs.” – Jack Welch – Former Iconic CEO of GE
  • “Think of yourself as a gardener, with a watering can in one hand and a can of fertilizer in the other. Occasionally you have to pull some weeds, but most of the time, you just nurture and tend. Then watch everything bloom.”– Jack Welch – Former Iconic CEO of GE


Boss, you have to grasp this concept of your business will be unable to thrive and you will always find yourself struggling to merely survive. Trust me on this. I have personally enabled enough morons to fill up the cast of an average rap video or reality TV show many times over. This was not a good thing. And I paid the price for allowing these under-performing “C Players” to call my office home. You simply cannot afford to have any “C Players” on your team. They will occupy your time with mindless justifications for lack or performance and destroy your ability to deliver your products and services to your customers at a high level. These people also emit dangerously contagious amounts of negativity to all whom they come in contact with. If they aren’t killing your motivation with their stories of woe, they will kill the motivation of the person next to them as they complain about the “unrealistic expectations” that you place on everyone.

Hire only A & B Players by focusing on hiring for attitude and training skills and the day to day drama will decrease while the quality of your products and services will increase dramatically. At the end of the day when it all comes down to it you just can’t surround yourself with people that can’t get the job done. Jack Welch, the former CEO and the iconic leader of GE was famous for looking for employees that had what he called the “4 E’s.” Every time he hired anyone he looked for individuals who had the ability to bring ENERGY to the workplace, the ability to ENERGIZE others, the ability to EXECUTE the business plans to get things done and the EDGE needed to be candid with everyone at all times.

In the rare case that someone was actually able to deliver high marks in all four of his “4 E” areas he referred to them as “A” players. If someone was great in a couple of areas, but lacking in others he referred to them as “B” players. When someone was weak it every area, he called them “C” players, then he called them into his office and fired them.

My friend that harsh reality of business is that people in a capitalist society are not patient. Why should they be? If your product or service is terrible they are simply going to find somewhere else to buy the product and service from that is not terrible. This competition and survival of the fittest is what makes our country great. Thus, if you want to make in this society you must not tolerate the work of marginal “C Player” employees. “C Players” cannot be helped.

Psychologically “A Players” love getting things done. They love wowing customers. They love results. These are purpose driven and they view mediocrity as a source of evil. People that don’t get things done are an annoyance to them so much so that many of them will refuse to stay at an organization where idiocy, lack of accountability and excuses are the order of the day. If don’t want these top people going, you had better make sure that your organization is growing. “A Players” make up only 10-15% of all non-dumb, non-distracted, and non-dishonest employees so you must work like hell to keep these people on your team or your organization will suffer.

“B Players” make up about 80% of every good workplace. These people value being part of the team, and love being “consistent.” They love showing up on time and leaving on time. They are not interested in staying late, nor are they very excited about anything that requires change. To them “change is bad” and “consistency is good.” They are unable to grasp the concept of incrementally improving a business to achieve peak results, however they will relunctantly go along because they “don’t want to rock the boat.” Every organization needs “B Players.” Do not be annoyed by these people, because every organization needs them. These people value following the rules and honoring their word, but you cannot have your growth limited by their overall lack of ambition. Your goal as a leader should be to inspire, coach and train your “B Players” into wanting to become “A Players.” If you celebrate your “A Players” enough, some “B Players” will begin to become discontent with their current reality and will begin to act differently so that they too can join the ranks of your company’s “A-Players.”

“C Players” are negative and lazy. They are dumb, they are distracted and they are dishonest. Their life’s thermostat is permanently set to “make-just-enough-money-to-support-my-baby’s mamma” mode. These people spend their work day making excuses for not performing, talking bad about management, spreading rumors and questioning every aspect of your business relentlessly. When they don’t get something done they will always blame someone else. They can’t write well because “their teachers in school weren’t any good.” They steal because “they had to to make ends meet.” They’ll routinely ask management either or questions that don’t make sense like:

“So do you want me to be a good husband or a good salesman?”
“Are you wanting me to get my paperwork done or to make my sales calls?”
“Are you wanting me to get everything done or to focus on doing a good job?”

These people consistently make bad decisions but are unable to mentally grasp the concept that they ever caused any of the problems that they are currently experiencing in their lives. These people are “draining” and they will kill your business. When you “sit down” to meet with them they always find a way to make you feel responsible for their bad decisions, and poor results. When dealing with these people keep this quote by best-selling author and multi-millionaire businessman-turned-author, Harvey Mackey in mind, “It isn’t the people you fire who make your life miserable, it’s the people you don’t fire.”

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  • Founder of DJ Connection
  • Founder of Epic Photography
  • Founder of the Tulsa Bridal Association Wedding Show
  • Founder of Make Your Life Epic Marketing / Advertising Agency
  • Founder of Thrive15.com
  • Former Owner of Party Perfect (Which is now PartyProRents.com
  • Co-Founder of Elephant In The Room Men’s Grooming Lounge
  • Co-Founder of Fears and Clark Realty Group
  • Co-host of the Thrive Time Business Coach Radio Show